Securing, Leveraging and Sustaining Power for Street Vendors in India


  • Sachin Kumar Government College of Teacher Education, Dharamshala, Himchal Pradesh, India 176215
  • Arbind Singh National Association of Street vendors of India (NASVI)



While street vendors have provided goods and services to millions at an affordable rate on their doorsteps since time immemorial, erosion of the rural livelihood base, growing informalisation and unabated urbanisation have suddenly increased their numbers in Indian cities in the 1990s. Despite the fact that these workers contribute significantly to the urban economy, they have faced and often continue to experience humiliation, continual harassment, confiscations and sudden evictions. It became imperative to advocate for their rights through the formulation of appropriate policies, the enactment of relevant laws, and the provision of adequate social protection benefits. The National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI) played a pivotal and catalytic role in transforming street vendors from non-entities into a formidable force to reckon with. Based on existing published works on the street vendors’ movement in India, a series of key informant interviews and national consultation with stakeholders, the paper aims to document the journey of NASVI in terms of milestones, struggles and successes using the theoretical framework of power resources and capabilities. It also makes an attempt to bring out important lessons for social actors interested in organising informal workers.

Author Biographies

Sachin Kumar, Government College of Teacher Education, Dharamshala, Himchal Pradesh, India 176215

Sachin Kumar holds qualifications in Geography, Career and Livelihood Planning, and Training and Development. For the last 20 years, he has been engaged in teaching, training, research and counselling in different institutions. He also consults and volunteers with organizations working in the areas of positive youth development, teacher education, career services, green livelihoods, informal labour and Himalayan culture. Currently he is working at the Government College of Teacher Education at Dharamshala, Himachal Pradesh, India.

Arbind Singh, National Association of Street vendors of India (NASVI)

Arbind Singh holds a Master’s degree from the Delhi School of Economics.  An activist and a social entrepreneur, he has been empowering informal workers by securing their access to markets, financial services and technology through collective action He has received  Ashoka Fellowship and Eisenhower Fellowship (2007);  Social Entrepreneur of the Year at the India Economic Summit by the World Economic Forum(2008); Skoll Award for  Social Entrepreneurship by the California based Skoll Foundation  (2012) and a number of other awards and distinctions.  He is on the board of many  Government and  Non-government   Committees at national and state level. Curently  he is the   National Coordinator of NASVI and Secretary of StreetNet International, a Durban based international federation of street vendor organizations.