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Unwanted in my city - The making of a 'Muslim' slum in Mumbai.



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Qudsiya Contractor
Mehboob Bhai1 commented looking at me that ‘this [Shivaji Nagar] is like living in
hell, would you call this living?’ pointing towards the sea of garbage that surrounded
us. ere was garbage everywhere, as far as the eye could see. He pointed to the chil-
dren playing in it, ‘Look, our children even play in garbage, they have nowhere else
to play’.
Fieldnotes, 24 January 2010
‘It is not because they [Muslims of Shivaji Nagar] are not interested [in upward social
mobility] people or because of their lack of commitment, that is really not the prob-
lem or that of capability. e problem is that it [Shivaji Nagar] is like a walled city. It
is a huge area. And they rarely get a chance to go outside. When you don’t see things
like fancy brands or just the English labels on things or the fancy stores to buy them
from, you don’t know that is the world you want to aspire for. You are content with
what you have. at’s what they have learnt from their parents’ [emphasis added].
Interview with Kriti Singh, English teacher at a Shia Trust run private
English medium school, 24 March 2010
‘Our crime is that we are Muslims (Hum logon ka jurm yeh hai ki hum Musalman hain).
It is the way we are looked at. We are being pushed behind’.
Interview with Ramzaan ji, 25 November 2010
Shivaji Nagar is a predominantly Muslim slum situated at the periphery of an
industrial suburb of Mumbai. It is one of the worst places to live in Mumbai
owing to its proximity to the city’s largest garbage dump as well as to the eco-
nomic status of those who live there. However, being a Muslim slum dweller
in Mumbai has become not just a socio-economic disadvantage but can also
end up as a precursor to peripheral living in a city that was once the panacea
to urban aspirations. Based on an ethnography of everyday life in Shivaji
Nagar, this paper traces the processes that led to its formation and construc-
tion as a ‘Muslim area/slum’. I argue that the state, through its violent spatial
strategies, and the Hindu right, through its cultural populism and commu-
nal politics, have played a crucial role in its construction as a peripheral life
space. Furthermore, the paper exemplies the blurring boundaries between
the everyday spatial practices of the state and the Hindu right through the
experiences of the people of Shivaji Nagar. Finally, the paper describes how
these exclusionary spatial practices are countered by Muslims through every-
day claims to the city itself.
Communal Politics as Spatial Politics
in Contemporary Mumbai
Historically, Muslims formed a substantial minority in the city with their eco-
nomic engagements ranging from being traders to constituting the mill work-
force in the cotton textile industry (Hansen T. B., 2001a; Chandavarkar, 1994).
Muslim localities in colonial Mumbai represented a socio-cultural diversity
and their spatial location in the city was closely linked to their position in the
city’s economy. Parts of the city that had high concentrations of Muslims as
early as the eighteenth century are distinctly noted as Muslim areas of the city
even today.2 e ‘Muslim quarter’ of the city being fairly diverse had mohallas3
associated with caste-like groups or interrelated occupational groups among
Musl ims th at were linguistica lly a nd cultur ally disti nct (Mass elos, 1977; Chan-
davarkar, 1994).4 is included working class neighbourhoods housing the
industrial workforce, which were segregated along religious and caste lines as
a manifestation of the social organisation of labour in the city.5 Conforming
to broader trends of nationalist politics and communal mobilisation, religious
festivals and processions became occasions for contestation and coding of city
spaces based on the politicisation of communal identities (Hansen, 2001a;
Masselos, 2007a). e 1930s and 1940s saw an incipient isolation of the Mus-
lim working class in the economy as well as spatially in the city, and the pro-
cess became even more pronounced aer Independence (Hansen, 2001b).6 Post
Indepen dence, Hindu nationalist agenda s, disc ourse an d institution s g radu-
ally penetrated everyday life, and acquired a growing, though not uncontested,
social respectability in contemporary Indian society (Hansen, 1999; Jarelot,
1996). Mumbai was no exception to this and the rise of Shiv Sena in the 1960s
marked the beginning of the communalisation of the cultural and political
environment of the city (Appadurai, 2000; Lele, 1995).7 Shiv Sena oered the
rhetoric of ethno-religious unity, regional cultural pride and also a solidarity
that repackaged older anti-Muslim myths (Hansen, 2001a). e politico-cul-
tural strategies of the Shiv Sena relied heavily on spatial tactics,8 which included
violently rewriting urban space as sacred, national and Hindu space (Appadu-
rai, 2000). e Shiv Sena took to slums and working-class neighbourhoods
with its Hindu-Marathi chauvinism in the light of the growing insecurities of
urban living (Appadurai, 2000; Heuze, 1995; Sen, 2008). Nationally, the party
joined hands with the BJP to further hindutva and its agenda for a Hindu
nation, which radically transformed the citys geography. e Shiv Sena’s spa-
tial strategies widely used public spaces as sites for the display of the Hindu
right’s violent political strategies and anti-Muslim rhetoric (Hansen T. B.,
2001a).9 Hence, the spatial segregation of Muslims in the city can be attrib-
uted to their growing economic, political and socio-cultural alienation as well
as violence eventually transforming their spatial location in the city.
e incidents that followed the demolition of the Babri Masjid in Ayodhya
on 6 December 1992 (the riots of December 1992 and January 1993, which
caused at least 900 hundred deaths, as well as the bomb blasts of March 1993,
which made 250 victims) have had a lasting impact on the social geography of
the city.10 Many chose not to go back to their homes in mixed neighbourhoods
in the city (Masselos, 2007b; Punwani, 2003; Robinson, 2005). It has been
argued that it is the scarcity of housing in Mumbai that translated the explo-
sive violence of 1992–93 into the imaginary of cleansed space, a space with-
out Muslim bodies (Appadurai, 2000). Soon aer the riots and as a consequence
of the violence, one witnessed the formation of new boundaries around com-
munal identities, dened through a process of naming at the intersection of
religious identity, nationality and personal identity (Mehta & Chatterji, 2001).
is was the case, in particular, in Dharavi (the largest slum in the city if not
in Asia), where the lines of demarcation between Hindu and Muslim domi-
nated areas were designated as ‘India-Pakistan borders’. Other areas with an
already sizable Muslim population saw a further inux of Muslims from other
parts of the city. In central Mumbai areas such as Nagpada, Madanpura, Bhendi
Bazar or Mohammed Ali Road, as well as some parts of Wadala such as Kid-
wai Nagar or Byculla saw an inux of Muslims. In the suburbs, Jogeswari (west),
Kurla, Govandi and Mumbra were further concentrated with Muslims. Mid-
dle class Muslim localities such as Millat Nagar, a large complex of apartments
o Lokhandwala in Andheri (west) and Mira road, a distant suburb in North-
west Mumbai, have become noticeable and distinct as Muslim localities over
the last ten years (Robinson, 2005: 43).
Table 1.1. Population of Muslims in Mumbai and Maharashtra in 2001*
Total Muslims Percentage (%)
of the total population
Mumbai 3,338,031 734,484 22.0
Mumbai (suburban) 8,640,419 1,488,987 17.0
Maharashtra 96,878,627 10,270,485 10.6
* Compiled from Census of India, 2001.
In an act to reclaim the city from its cosmopolitan image and to establish
its regional credentials, the Shiv Sena-BJP alliance renamed Bombay to Mum-
bai in 1995 (Hansen T. B., 2001a). Once in power, their spatial tactics through
democratic processes/institutions transformed several other landmarks in the
city by renaming them aer Chhatrapati Shivaji, the Hindu Maratha warrior
king and icon of the Shiv Sena. Today several public spaces (including govern-
ment oces, commercial establishments, lanes, streets, parks and even trac
islands) across the city are marked with the installation of grand statues of Shiv-
aji (mounted on a horse holding a sword) decorated with forked saron ags.
Signicant to the institutionalisation of the exclusionary spatial strategies of
the Shiv Sena has been its growing dominance in the Brihanmumbai Munic-
ipal Corporation (BMC) from the late 1960s through the 1990s.11 is has
even translated into the reorganisation of administrative boundaries in certain
suburbs of the city.12 Furthermore, this is accompanied with a low presence of
Muslim political representatives in government. In Maharashtra, out of the
288 Members of Legislative Assembly (MLAs), only eleven (3.8%) are Mus-
lims.13 e presence of Muslim MLAs in the Mumbai region is slightly better;
of the thirty-six MLAs here, six (16.6%) are Muslims. However, of the total
227 Municipal Councillors (Corporators) under the Municipal Corporation
of Greater Mumbai (MCGM), only twenty-four (10.5%) were Muslims.14
e following sections are based on ethnographic eldwork conducted in
Shivaji Nagar. I draw from what Hansen (2001a) describes as the ‘localised
notions of what the locality was’ or the ‘local phenomenology of locality and
space’ in the face of the elusive and oen unxable nature of social boundar-
ies in urban space in a city like Mumbai. rough an ethnography of everyday
life they describe how exclusionary acts and imposed representations of the
state and mainstream society are subverted in ordinary situations by Muslim
residents of Shivaji Nagar (Certeau, 1988).
Map of Mumbai
Garbage dump, human dump
Shivaji Nagar is situated on the swampy terrain of the ane creek in close
proximity to large tracts of municipal land allocated for the disposal of the
city’s garbage in colonial times, popularly referred to as the ‘dumping ground’.
e land that it occupies was once a marsh that turned into solid land by the
continued disposal of garbage there. Shivaji Nagar came into existence in the
early 1970s following the demolition of several slum settlements across the city
as part of the state’s slum clearance drives. Following the resettlement of slum
dwellers from other parts of the city, the population of Shivaji Nagar had a
large proportion of Muslims right from its formation. e older residents
ascribe this to the large number of Muslims living in the slum settlements that
were cleared. One of the rst to be resettled was a locality of butchers work-
ing in a municipal slaughterhouse (popularly referred to as katal khana) that
was itself relocated close to the garbage dump. e katal khana, along with its
predominantly Muslim workforce that lived in close proximity to their work-
place, was originally located in Bandra (a western suburb). is Muslim pop-
ulation was evicted to make way for an express highway connecting the city’s
western suburbs. e katal khana was relocated a few kilometres away from
the garbage dump thus moving an unpleasant, dirty business to the margins
of the city. e workers on the payroll of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Cor-
poration (BMC) were allotted houses in a housing colony close to the katal
khana, in multi-storeyed buildings. Others, who were contract workers, were
allotted plots in an open stretch of land that was being used before for garbage
e oldest residents describe Shivaji Nagar in its early days as a large marshy
land that had nothing at all except garbage. Not many people were happy to
be resettled in this area because of its proximity to the dumping ground and
the creek. So coercion was used, which included the burning down of slum
pockets in order to forcefully move people to Shivaji Nagar. Slum dwellers
were then brought in from Worli, Mahalaxmi, Sewri and Bandra and allotted
square plots of land of 10 by 15 square feet. As one of the older residents recalls,
‘People would say there are such big mosquitoes here. Who will want to stay here? e
BMC brought people and dumped them here. is was a dumping area, so people were
dumped. And once they were dumped, they were dumped [laa ke dala hai]. Now, they
did allot plots to people, but this is still a dumping area. (pauses) At least they have a
house. at is how it is’.
Interview with Hussein, resident since 1974, 22 March 2010
Like most squatter settlements in the city, Shivaji Nagar is located on munic-
ipal corporation land and hence the residents are tenets who were allotted
housing on the submission of proof of residence in the city like ration cards
and payment of a deposit amount towards the rental agreement.
e area has
grown considerably since its formation in terms of the density of population
and the area it covers. ere has also been an inux of newer residents who
have either purchased tenements from earlier residents or rented them.16 e
rents in this area today are as low as Rs. 400–500 per month for a small room.
ose who lled in the ‘gaps within the squares’17 came through social or kin-
ship ties with those resettled here, hence further increasing the concentration
of Muslims. eir image as ‘encroachers’ was largely held by outsiders espe-
cially BMC ocials and even professional NGOs. However, the cause for this
inux is seen by the residents as a need for toilers such as themselves to have a
familiar, safe and aordable space to live in a mega city like Mumbai.
Communal violence in 1984 and 1992–93
e residents of Shivaji Nagar experienced two major communal riots—one
in 1984 and the other in 1992–93—that had a lasting impact on the landscape
of the neighbourhood. Although the epicentre of the 1984 riots was the tex-
tile and power-loom city of Bhiwandi, it spread to various parts of Mumbai.
Shivaji Nagar was among the main troubled areas in Mumbai where the Shiv
Sena with the help of local goons attacked Muslims (Engineer, 1984).18 Sev-
eral Muslim residents attempted to ee from the area or sought refuge in neigh-
bouring slums. e area was put under curfew for ten days with the military
being called in to put an end to the violence. Immediate action from the state
to restore law and order instilled a sense of safety in the residents of Shivaji
Nagar. e communal violence led to the out-migration of Hindu residents in
the area and localities became more segregated. Some Hindu residents of the
surrounding middle-class housing colonies consider the 1984 riots as one of
the causes for Shivaji Nagar becoming a distinctly Muslim-dominated area.
However, it still remained a mixed locality with some proportion of non-Mus-
lims continuing to live there.
Following the demolition of the Babri Masjid on 6 December 1992, Shiv-
aji Nagar was reportedly one of the major sites of violence in the city. e
detailed sequence of events has been reported in the Srikrishna Commission
report (1998) as well as the Indian People’s Tribunal (1994), two main reports
that documented evidence. e trouble in the area reportedly began with Mus-
lim mobs committing acts of violence and attacking public transport (BEST)
buses, a local BJP activist and two temples in the area. Muslims in large num-
bers gathered in public areas within Shivaji Nagar to protest the demolition
of the Babri Masjid wearing black armbands. ese acts of public and, in cer-
tain cases, violent protests resulted in a violent conict between Hindus and
Muslims living in Shivaji Nagar. e situation intensied with the police open-
ing re on mobs, killing more Muslims than Hindus. is incident caused a
major dent in the relationship between Muslims of Shivaji Nagar and the police.
en what followed was the killing of two police constables by a mob of Mus-
lims during a violent conict between them and the police.
‘On 7th December […] a mob of Muslims attacked the police during the course of which
two policemen were killed. ere was a picket of nine constables near a temple in Padma
Nagar. e mob over ran the police picket and attacked the two police personnel despite
eighteen rounds red by the police. e police were outnumbered and had to retreat.
One police constable was killed and the other died on his way to the hospital. ir-
teen Muslims were killed in the incident and six were injured’.
(Report of the Srikrishna Commission: An inquiry into the riots at Mumbai
during December 1992 and January 1993, 1998; pp. 82–84)
is followed with a violent battle between the police and the residents,
with Muslims bearing most of the loss and damage. e evidence presented
before both the commissions pointed towards a nexus between the Deonar
police station and the Shiv Sena. In some areas, the police had attacked peo-
ple and burnt their houses along with the Shiv Sena. In other cases, policemen
themselves shouted slogans such as ‘Jai Shree Ram’ and ‘Jai Shivaji’ while they
were attacking the victims (Indian People’s Human Rights Tribunal, 1994).
ereaer, the military was called in to restore law and order with the area
being put under a curfew that lasted for three months.
Table 1.2. Loss of lives and property due to communal riots in Shivaji Nagar during
December 1992*
Hindu Muslim Others Total
Number of persons killed 6 44 50
Establishments subjected to damage
and looting 665 1006 2 1673
Arrests 11 129 140
* Compiled from the Srikrishna Commission Report (1998).
Muslims in certain pockets within Shivaji Nagar in turn negotiated with
some individual policemen to perform the Friday namaz in the open areas in
order to restore their spatial claims to the locality. During the curfew, Muslim
women provided the army and policemen with food and water. is was done
with the hope that it would lessen the hostility and antagonism owing to the
death of the policemen. Hence, peaceful coexistence among the police, Hin-
dus and Muslims had to be negotiated.
Nearly seventeen years aer the incident, the recollections and memories
of the riots are part of the history of Shivaji Nagar that residents still feel
uncomfortable talking about. e demolition of the Babri Masjid was usually
described in terms of martyrdom, a frequently used phrase being Jab Babri
Masjid shahid ho gayi… [When the Babri Masjid was martyred…]’. ey oered
detailed descriptions of incidents and the environment of fear and terror that
gripped the entire area as well as the city. e already appalling living condi-
tions in the peripheral areas of Shivaji Nagar worsened as unidentied bodies
were being dumped in the dumping ground. e familiarity of the locality and
neighbourhood provided a sense of safety, though:
‘Even today if someone mentions ’92 it feels like it happened only yesterday. We have
seen what happened. So that scene is still fresh in our minds (pauses) as if it happened
today, why even yesterday. […] Any sound at night used to startle us. We somehow
managed to pass time in the day sitting at home. At night…we could not sleep. If there
were a sound coming from anywhere we would feel they have come. is would scare us’.
Mehboob, 20 November 2009
‘When bullets were red we used to feel scared. ere used to be the sound of shutters
being pulled down. ere was a house in front of ours on a mala (mezzanine oor) it
was a [Muslim] family, they also had kids. We moved into their house. […] Even today,
when someone pulls down a shutter I feel scared’.
Heena, 8 May 2009
Goli ruki yani normal hua. Goli ruki nahin to bahut hua (It was stable/normal if the
bullets/ring stopped. If the bullets did not stop, a lot of violence happened). We could
not go out of our homes. Everyone used to tell us, stay here, stay here, don’t go out.
Keep yourself away from the eyes of the police. If you stay you will be safe. If you go
out there is a possibility that someone might get stuck somewhere or somebody might
kill you or do something else to you (pauses) some others may kill you. at is why
[you should] stay here. If you want to be safe, stay at home’.
Munira, 25 November 2009
Several residents of Shivaji Nagar chose to ee from the city during the riots
aer the demolition of the Babri Masjid. Among those who chose to leave were
both Muslims and Hindus. A Muslim resident narrated an incident of a Mus-
lim man who ed with all his belongings but was looted before he got on to
the train to reach his hometown. Hence it made sense not to leave the local-
ity. Some residents persuaded others (both Hindus and Muslims) not to leave
and even accommodated the inux of more Muslims, who were eeing from
neighbouring slums like Sion, Dharavi and Ghatkopar.
‘We stopped many people…would leaving the place have solved the problem? What if
somebody is caught on the way? If the person is from UP, he has to go for at least 1300–
1400 kms. On the way he has to cross Maharashtra and other states. To yeh 1992 ka
lafda India level ka lafda tha. Kisi ko bhi maar sakte the (the 1992 riots was an all India
level riot. Anyone could have been killed.) So a person was only safe at his location.
What if he is killed by the time he reaches VT [Victoria Terminus now renamed as
Chatrapati Shivaji Terminus]? ere have been several cases like this’.
Mehboob, 20 November 2009
‘H: A lot of people sold their rooms and le the area. In our gully there were more
Hindus than Muslims before the riots. Aer the riots, the Hindus sold o their rooms
and those were bought by Muslims. Although not a single Hindu was touched in our
area. Muslims were killed and nothing happened to the Hindus, but they chose to leave.
Q: Why did they leave?
H: We don’t know what might have come into their hearts (unke dil main kya aya).
ey probably must have thought that if nothing happened to us this time, what if
something happens to us in the next riots’.
Heena, 8 May 2009
Most of the relief and rehabilitation work post-riots was carried out by non-
state actors in the area. Relief camps were set up in the area by the local jama‘ats
and mosques aer the riots. Several mainstream elite Muslims including lm
actors from the community visited Shivaji Nagar and distributed relief mate-
rials. Muslim youth in the area were involved in the distribution of food grains.
Aer the riots several NGOs (headed by progressive middle class Hindus) got
involved in relief and rehabilitation work in the area. Some of these, who had
been working there, took their activities to the interiors of Shivaji Nagar and
much closer to the dumping ground. In the absence of state facilities, they have
continued with the services they provided before the riots such as primary
health care, education and sanitation. ese have also been a source of employ-
ment for Muslim men and women from the area. In the absence of state ser-
vices in the interiors of Shivaji Nagar, NGOs are functioning as an interface
between the state and the people. Some have been engaged in creating a cul-
tural space to reinforce the message of communal harmony through the involve-
ment of youth and children. Post-riots, these organisations have extended their
work to poverty reduction through self-help groups and micro-credit pro-
grammes. Some have adopted the rights-based approach to development19 ven-
turing into addressing gender-based violence and nurturing women’s community
participation. However, their interventions are largely based on a somewhat
limiting premise that poverty reduction (through self-help) and religious
reform (focusing primarily on Muslim personal law) are keys to improving the
condition of Muslims living there. is, coupled with the failure of the state
to deliver justice and its general neglect of the area, has oen le the residents
with self-blame and victimhood as the only means to negotiate survival in the
city. In spite of their limitations, the involvement of NGOs in relief and reha-
bilitation work as well as their continued presence in the interiors has been
able to restore connections with the city at large, including trust in the main-
stream city’s progressive Hindus eorts at bridging a divide that deepened with
the riots.
Peripheral Living
Shivaji Nagar is situated in the M (east) ward of Mumbai, which has one of
the highest proportions of slums in the city, including the largest number of
slum resettlement colonies.20 According to the Mumbai Human Development
Report (2009), M (east) has the lowest Human Development Index (HDI) at
0.05, much lower than the city’s average of 0.56. M (east) ward (including Shiv-
aji Nagar among other areas) and has a population of 673,871 according to
the 2001 Census. e population has increased to 759,613 in 2008 and
771,177 in 2009 according to the BMC estimates. However, the unocially
estimated population of Shivaji Nagar itself is six lakhs, of which Muslims con-
stitute more than two-thirds.21 e rest comprises of excluded ‘others’ such as
those from outside Maharashtra, Christians, Dalits etc.22 e residents pres-
ent a fair diversity in terms of language, caste, sect and occupation. One can
nd people from almost every state and linguistic background, but a large pro-
portion of them are from Uttar Pradesh and Bihar.
According to municipal records, Shivaji Nagar is divided into two areas
known as Shivaji Nagar I and II, both of them distinct and quite a contrast to
each other. Shivaji Nagar I comprises of organised plots and has a network of
that connect these plots that originally had 150 households each. With
the inux of more people and constant need for accommodation, many resi-
dents have built additional rooms that they rent out to these new entrants.
Hence, each plot in Shivaji Nagar now holds approximately 250–300 house-
holds each. Shivaji Nagar II is fairly unorganised, closer to the garbage dump
and comprising of newer migrants. e residents of Shivaji Nagar I are mostly
Shias, economically better o, most of them are small entrepreneurs and some
also work in the municipal corporation. ey dominate the economy of Shiv-
aji Nagar and their businesses oen employ those from Shivaji Nagar II. e
main market, banks, most of the schools in the area (both municipal and pri-
vate), the government health centre, post oce, political party oces (such as
those of the Congress, Samajwadi Party and Shiv Sena) are located in Shivaji
Nagar I. Each plot here has a common toilet and garbage dump. e roads are
much wider and clean. e houses in this area are referred to as ‘chawls’ by local
residents. Some of the houses here look well maintained and some even gran-
diose with large ornate wrought iron gates that were painted black and gold.
Some houses had doors a few feet above the ground with small steep staircases
that lead up to them. Some had walls lined with fancy ceramic tiles and large
sliding windows. e windows are heavily curtained, blocking the view of the
passers-by, unlike the general milieu of a slum where privacy is a privilege the
poor do not possess.24 e Muslims in Shivaji Nagar I are also well connected
Shivaji Nagar in Mumbai
to the Muslim elite (especially Shias) in the city, which has made its presence
felt through business and trade links or through charity-related activities
(zakat). Some are also involved through charitable trusts which run schools
in the area or provide educational sponsorship.
e living conditions in Shivaji Nagar II are appalling due to the proxim-
ity to the dumping ground. It has very poor infrastructure and suers from a
complete lack of state services. e houses here are much smaller and separated
by congested narrow lanes that gives the entire area a feel of a dense, complex
labyrinth. e majority of the Muslims living there are Sunnis. Most of them
are skilled workers (such as tailors, weavers, zari workers, carpenters, plumb-
ers, drivers etc.), small entrepreneurs or casual labourers. A signicant propor-
tion lives o the garbage dump either as rag pickers or involved in the resale
of sorted garbage (bhangar). e area is always enveloped in thick black smoke
emitted from the garbage dump due to the burning of garbage by those involved
in sorting and siing through it. Several women and children are engaged in
the collection and sorting of garbage. Islam bi has been living in Padma Nagar
since the last eight years as a tenant. Her husband is a casual labourer and she
works as a rag picker at the garbage dump. She earns sixty–seventy rupees for
siing and sorting garbage for nine hours a day. e garbage dump is also the
only ‘open’ space available to the residents of Shivaji Nagar II and is used as a
playground and grazing ground for cattle and goats.
Despite being a resettlement site for some years now, Shivaji Nagar has been
at the centre of housing and slum resettlement speculation because of the city’s
booming real estate market. Certain pockets have also been under the constant
threat of demolitions from the state due to their ‘unauthorised’ or ‘illegal’25 sta-
tus. In 2008–09, 114 hutments in Sanjay Nagar, 300 in Ra Nagar and 130 in
Indira Nagar (all situated in Shivaji Nagar II) were demolished by the BMC.26
ere is a perception that Shivaji Nagar being a ‘Muslim area’ makes it more
vulnerable to frequent demolitions. Municipal authorities also deal with the
demolition of localities in Shivaji Nagar dierently and harbour the percep-
tion that they are swarming with criminals.
‘Whenever the names of our areas come up they feel dierent. Whether it is the munic-
ipal authorities or the police they feel these areas are dangerous. Why they feel these
areas are dangerous I don’t know [pauses to answer a phone call]. Perhaps it shows
somewhere that this is a Muslim community. ese are not good people, more crime
happens here. More criminal-type people stay here. is is the message they get’.
Interview with Shaheed, local resident and housing rights activist,
8 November 2009
e scarcity of water is another issue that the residents associate with the
demographics of the area such as the inux of more people as well as a dispro-
portionate supply to begin with because of the skewed consumption patterns
in the city that favour the elite.27 e water problem is more than a decade old
and is also perceived to have come about soon aer the 1992–93 riots. Some
however maintain that the water problem started in 1997, aer a Shiv Sena
corporator in the area was voted out. In ocial documents of the local munic-
ipal oce, the short supply of water in the area is attributed to its physical loca-
tion, specically describing Shivaji Nagar as a ‘fag end’ to connote its distance
from the main water supply reservoir that is located closer to the non-slum
areas of the municipal ward. Dealing with an acute scarcity of water is a part
of the every day life struggles for survival in Shivaji Nagar. Jameel (20 years),
who lives closer to the dumping ground, has been fetching water from a neigh-
bouring slum since he was ten years old: ‘I have been fetching water my entire
life. First my father used to fetch water, now I have to do it too. His family has
to pay Rs. 5 per gallon (3.7 litres), which could go up to ten or even een
rupees in situations of acute scarcity. e daily consumption of water per house-
hold varies according to economic status and size. For instance, some have a
dierent arrangement, where a monthly water charge of Rs. 300 has to be paid
in order to get a supply of water at one’s doorstep limited to teen–twenty
minutes in the morning. Instead of addressing the problem, the lack of polit-
ical will, apathy of municipal authorities and the police has le the residents
no choice but to purchase water.
‘What is the purpose of such an Independence (Kya faeda aisi azadi se)? e govern-
ment is not even giving us water. You think yourself, 10 rupees for a gallon of water?
When the cost of a Bisleri bottle is 5–10 rupees. (pauses) We buy a gallon of water for
10 rupees. […] When people from Shivaji Nagar go to neighbouring slums to get water
carrying their water cans they are confronted by the police, their cans are broken and
bicycles are conscated. ese neighbouring slums like Gautam Nagar, Shastri Nagar
etc. there is a lot of excess water owing from the pipes there’.
Interview with Ramzaan ji, 25 November 2009
Shivaji Nagar as a ‘Muslim Slum
Despite a sizeable non-Muslim population, outsiders oen label Shivaji Nagar
as a ‘Muslim area. However, this image largely held by outsiders is also accom-
panied by strong associations to the undesirable presence of poverty, garbage
and butchering-related activities (due to Shivaji Nagar’s proximity to the
slaughterhouse [katal khana]). To the outsider, mountains of garbage visible
from a distance make up Shivaji Nagar’s skyline. It carries with it notions of
being a forbidden territory associated with all that is foul and undesirable. e
slaughterhouse and its association with non-vegetarian food cultures of Mus-
lims—and more specically the consumption of beef—feeds into its negative
image as an undesirable cultural life space, peripheral to the mainstream. Once,
an autorickshaw driver—a Hindu OBC migrant from UP, who lives in a slum
in Kurla—told me that he usually never takes passengers from this area: ‘if the
person says Deonar-Shivaji Nagar I generally refuse. ere is a slaughterhouse
where they cut beef (bade ka mutton). It smells so much. Once I took three
passengers from here and the whole rickshaw was smelling foul (pura rickshaw
bas mar raha tha)’ (Fieldnotes, 2 January 2010).
On entering Shivaji Nagar, what is visible is a landscape marked by the pres-
ence of mosques, temples and Buddha Vihars, some of which are older struc-
tures that came up during its formation and some that are recent. ough there
is a signicant number of Dalits, the number of temples is not representative
of the number of Hindus living in the area now. Aer the riots in 1992–93,
several temples stand abandoned or locked but are looked aer by the local
Hindu residents. e largest mosque in the area is located in Lotus colony and
is the only mosque located on a main road. e other mosques are located in
the interiors of Shivaji Nagar, some of which are currently under construction,
awaiting donations from jama‘ats and the Muslim elite to be completed. Lanes
and market places are also at times lined with green paper ags (a colour asso-
ciated with Muslims) or streamers put up during the celebration of Muslim
festivals such as Eid-ul-tr and Eid-ul-zuha (also known as Bakra Eid). Dur-
ing weddings, these lanes turn into community kitchens where food for the
dawaat (feast) is cooked in the open and the aroma lls up the air as do the
beats of the latest Bollywood music.
Hansen (2001a) gives us a detailed account of the historical trajectory of
the Muslim mohalla in Mumbai and its metamorphosis into social spaces that
today evoke connotations of crime, prostitution, gang war and the myth of the
Muslim badmaash (rogue). Shivaji Nagar has been no exception to this image.
Due to the incident of two police constables being burnt and its notoriety for
criminal activity, illicit liquor manufacturing and drug peddling,
Nagar’s image as a breeding ground for the ‘rogue’ Muslim became a reason
enough for police atrocities during 1992–93 and hypersurveillance aerwards.
At the time of the riots, Shivaji Nagar was under the jurisdiction of the Deonar
police station that was located at quite a distance from it. ere was neither a
police station nor a police beat (outpost) in the vicinity. Aer the riots, a police
station was built right next to the entrance of Shivaji Nagar. Five police beat
chowkies were constructed within the area. Most of these remain closed today
though a police van with six to eight police constables patrols the area at least
twice a day and at times even more. ere are police outposts located in pub-
lic spaces like market places, which are either in close proximity to temples or
have been named aer them. One of the police outposts situated on the main
access road into Shivaji Nagar is located right in front of the local Shiv Sena
shakha. Amongst the residents, the Mumbai police are considered the real
threat, being notorious for their anti-Muslim sentiment and actions: ‘they
encourage crime in the area instead of curbing it and keep asking for bribes
from those who commit crimes in return for keeping them out of jail’.29
Most public places such as the post oce, police stations, health posts and
health centres are marked with pictures of Hindu gods and goddesses. e only
indication in state institutions of Muslims living in the area is in the munici-
pal schools where notice boards in Urdu (a language associated with Muslims)
can be seen, as it is also one of the mediums of instruction. is denotes the
gap between the social worlds of those working for and heading state institu-
tions and Muslims in the city. is deep-rooted chasm can also be seen in their
attitudes towards Muslims. A woman resident doctor at a local government
facility in Shivaji Nagar said:
‘I don’t know. is doesn’t happen in our [Hindu] families. ey [Muslim men] are
illiterate, they don’t work. All they want is more children. It is all about pleasure. at
is all they want. ey are not responsible towards their families’.
Fieldnotes, 15 April 2010
e myth of Shivaji Nagar being a ‘Muslim area’ is much more than simply
a label based on a signicant Muslim population but is understood as a demo-
graphic aberration by state institutions, non-residents and the mainstream city.
e production of this myth is an important element of the social spatialisa-
tion30 and cultural discourses that positions local working-class Muslim neigh-
bourhoods socially as well as spatially marginal (peripheral) to the mainstream
city. Furthermore, the sensory connotations (visual i.e. garbage and olfactory
i.e. smell) to the spaces occupied by working class, lower caste Muslims as well
as the criminalisation of Shivaji Nagar contribute to its image as a lawless for-
bidden territory.31 In the following section I look at how the Muslims of Shiv-
aji Nagar counter the processes of exclusion and how this involves contestations
and negotiations in everyday life.
Acts of Naming and Counter-naming
Shivaji Nagar, named aer the Maratha king by, unsurprisingly, the BMC, is a
place at odds with its composition and history. All those people resettled from
dierent parts of the city were allotted dierent locations and plots; these local-
ities have now become distinct neighbourhoods. Some of these have been
named based on the plot numbers allotted by the BMC. Others bear associa-
tions to the original locations from where the residents were resettled. e rst
inhabitants of Shivaji Nagar were resettled from Worli into an area that is now
known as Lotus colony. Ra Nagar was named aer Mohammed Ra, the
famous playback singer in Bollywood whose death in 1980 coincided with
resettlement in the area. e Bandra plots are where those resettled from the
qasai wada in Bandra were relocated. In certain cases the names of localities
are based on their past use. Local residents refer to a large part of Shivaji Nagar
II as Baiganwadi, as the land was earlier used for agriculture specically brin-
jal farming (baingan meaning brinjal in Hindi). Similarly, Zakir Husain Nagar
came up at a site where a factory once stood owned by a person by that name.
Others have been named aer slumlords such as Baba Nagar, Kamla Raman
Nagar and Raman Mama Nagar. It is the residents of Shivaji Nagar who make
associations of the present to the past by naming their localities or in the nar-
ratives of their histories. e multiple institutions of the state may not recog-
nise this in their own nomenclature of these areas, eectively disconnecting
the present from the past histories of the residents.32
Individuals through every day practices also engage in the naming and mark-
ing of spaces in order to counter the denationalisation of ‘Muslim areas’. Arif
Sheikh works as a physical instructor in a municipal school and is a resident
of Shivaji Nagar since 1994. He took the liberty to name the gully (lane) he
lives in aer Shaheed Abdul Hamid, a soldier with the Indian army who died
during the 1965 India-Pakistani war. He was also the rst and only Muslim to
have been awarded the Param Vir Chakra by the government.
‘Our people have sacriced their lives. But there is not a trace or sign of our names any-
where. Isn’t that true? What has Lokmanya [Tilak] done? He celebrated the Ganpati
festival. […] ere are areas, roads and lanes named aer others (names a few leaders).
Why are they not named aer our people? Do you know who this lane is named aer?
Shaheed Abdul Hamid. I have named it. How will anyone know about him? Arif Sheikh
[i.e. Muslims like himself ] knows who Ram and Ganpati are, but does he know about
Abdul Hamid even if he is from his own caste?’
Interview with Arif Sheikh, 24 January 2010
Arif Sheikh has also registered a welfare society with other members of the
neighbourhood by the same name that looks into the maintenance of the gully
he lives in (such as garbage disposal, sanitation, repairs etc.) with limited suc-
cess. Sheikh sir (as he is popularly known) is originally from UP and lives in
one of the several localities closer to the mountainous heaps of garbage. His
house imitates those seen in Shivaji Nagar I with its painted walls, tiled oor-
ing, and sliding window with a few potted plants opening into the narrow
gully. Inside, the room had a television, a bed in the corner and a small alumin-
ium folding table. A newly constructed wall in order to make a separate kitchen
had divided the small area. A small glass shelf in the corner had two ower
vases and a recent picture of Sheikh sir in a military-like uniform, taken in a
studio. He has undergone paramilitary training at the National Defence Acad-
emy in Pune and completed an MA in Hindi from Mumbai University. He
was unable to make it into the army so ended up as a physical education teacher.
Sheikh remarked that he was living in this place out of nancial and familial
compulsions. He supplements his meagre salary by working part-time in a pri-
vate school. But he pointed out to me that in spite of living in such a lthy
place he was doing so in style, ‘It is by Allah’s grace that we even live here like
this (Yeh Allah ka karam hai ki apun yahan bhi is tarah se rahte hain)’. He
pointed to the tiles and newly painted walls. en he told me that he does not
consider himself any less than others.
Being a municipal school teacher, Sheikh takes a lot of pride in his knowl-
edge of the state system and in his uency in English and Marathi, for which
he is also respected locally. He has registered another welfare society under the
name ‘Al Hind Friends Group’ that is meant to engage in social work for the
needy. e letterhead of the society has a logo on the right hand side that com-
prises of an enlarged map of India juxtaposed on to an image of the globe posi-
tioned exactly over and covering up that of the United States of America.
Within the map are two hands clasped in a handshake along with an abbrevi-
ation of the name of the society, AHFG. Around this image is a by line in cap-
itals that says, ‘Only patriotism. Proud to be an Indian. e entire lane is marked
by such patriotic symbols put up by Sheikh sir such as a board that bears the
name of Shaheed Abdul Hamid Welfare Society and of all the residents and
their house numbers in English, a common letterbox with the postal address
and a notice board again bearing the name of the society in English and Urdu.
At the entrance stands a ag poll where the national ag is hoisted on 15 August
and 26 January with a gathering of local residents. A tattered banner also stood
at the entrance that bore the pictures of Hemant Karkare and een other
police and army ocials who died during the terrorist attacks at the Taj Mahal
Hotel in Mumbai on 26 November 2008 and stated in Marathi, ‘A great salute
to the brave police men who were martyred ghting against terrorists.
Sheikh sir’s case illustrates that formal citizenship in the nation-state is
increasingly neither a necessary nor a sucient condition for substantive cit-
izenship (Holston & Appadurai, 1996). And this seems especially true for low-
status Muslims who enjoy formal citizenship but who are de facto deprived of
their citizenship and, more specically, of their rights to the city. e acts of
naming represent the blurring boundaries between state institutions and the
agendas of the ruling elite who can manipulate bureaucratic procedures to
demand their ‘democratic’ share of public resources (or more than that). How-
ever, even the poor, low-status and weak can sometimes benet from their own
manipulations of political and administrative systems, pragmatically trying to
deal with them rather than striving to resist them (Fuller & Benei, 2001).
Sheikh sir’s act of ‘counter-naming’ can be understood as an act of mainstream-
ing or countering segregation by making links with notions of nationhood and
patriotism. It counters the notion of Muslims as anti-national by invoking
nationalist imagery through symbols from within the Muslim community that
are forgotten.
In view of the processes that have led to the formation and construction of
Shivaji Nagar as a peripheral life space, some parallels can be drawn here from
the perspectives on racial and ethnic ghettos in the west. e complexities sur-
rounding the multiple processes that have both transformed and maintained
‘Muslim’ slums such as Shivaji Nagar may not be totally explained by adher-
ing to existing nomenclature and classication concerning spatial segregation
of racial, ethnic or religious groups elsewhere. However, the case of Shivaji
Nagar does point towards possible trends of social cleansing, especially as far
as poor urban Muslims are concerned. Despite the specic context of Shivaji
Nagar owing to its location (proximity to the city’s largest garbage dump), the
processes of spatial exclusion and discrimination experienced by Muslims resid-
ing there are representative of the condition of slum dwelling Muslims any-
where else in the city. e history of communal politics in its violent outbursts
as well as everyday forms of socio-cultural exclusion has resulted in the forma-
tion of what Wacquant (2008) refers to as ‘neighbourhoods of exile’ born out
of the forcible relegation of a negatively typed population, which in this case
are poor, low-status urban Muslims. e representation of Shivaji Nagar as a
culturally deviant (at times anti-national) urban disorder creates the need for
it to be ‘dealt’ with by the state and the mainstream city at large to bring it back
into the realms of the (Hindu) nation-space. In doing so, the nation-state
engages in the production of local subjects within the locality by creating a
wide array of formal and informal techniques for the nationalisation of all space
considered to come under its sovereign authority (Appadurai, 1995). Coun-
tering these processes of exclusion involves an everyday negotiation with the
state as well as society in general, not only for the Muslims of Shivaji Nagar
but for those of Mumbai at large. e context of its history and demographic
composition augment the complexity of not just these struggles but also the
larger question of the right to the city itself.
pp. [20–24]
98. Ibid., p. 439.
99. Ibid., p. 447.
100. Ibid.
101. Sunil Khilnani, e Idea of India, op. cit., p. 109.
102. C.A. Bayly, Rulers, Townsmen and Bazars, op. cit., p. 450.
103. Christophe Jarelot, La démocratie en Inde. Religion, caste et politique, Paris:
Fayard, 1998.
104. C.A. Bayly, Rulers, Townsmen and Bazars, op. cit., p. 450.
105. Ibid., p. 456.
106. David Gilmartin, Empire and Islam. Punjab and the Making of Pakistan, Delhi:
OUP, 1988, p. 213 sq.
107. C.A. Bayly, Rulers, Townsmen and Bazars, op. cit., p. 456.
108. Sunil Khilnani, e Idea of India, op. cit., p. 124.
109. is continuity is made explicit in the opening chapter of the novel, where Ali
quotes the verses of Mir Taqi Mir reproduced above, which he recited on his
arrival in Lucknow in 1782.
110. Ahmed Ali, Twilight in Delhi, New York: New Directions Publishing, 1994
[1940], p. 4.
111. Anita Desai, In Custody, Delhi: Random House, 2007 [1984].
112. For a critical discussion of In Custody, see Amina Yaqin, ‘e Communalization
and Disintegration of Urdu in Anita Desai’s In Custody’, in Ather Farouqui (ed.),
Redening Urdu Politics in India, Delhi: Oxford University Press, 2010, pp. 108–
113. Sachar Committee Report, p. 14.
114. Loïc Wacquant, Urban Outcasts, op. cit., p. 8.
115. Ibid., p. 49.
116. Louis Wirth, e Ghetto, Chicago: Chicago University Press, 1964 [1928], p. 285.
117. A point also made by Didier Lapeyronnie, Ghetto urbain. Ségrégation, violence,
pauvreté en France aujourd’hui, Paris: Robert Laont, 2008, p. 12.
1. All the names used here are pseudonyms.
2. According to the 1901 Census, these areas were Chakla, Umarkhadi, Kharatalao,
Nagpada, Mandvi and Dongri, which still have a signicant proportion of Mus-
3. e spatial concentration of Muslims, commonly referred to as the mohalla, was a
term introduced by the Mughals for an administrative division of the city and has
since been associated with Muslim neighbourhoods. e Marathi words wada and
wadi were used in reference to Hindu localities and chawl referred to working class
neighbourhoods. See Masselos (2007a) and Chandavarkar (1994).
pp. [24–29]
4. Entire mohallas were identied (for certain parts even within 1901 Census data)
with specic, at times occupational, groups—business communities like Khojas,
Memons, Bohras, Ansari weavers, Qureshi butchers and so on.
5. See Chandavarkar (1994).
6. It is probably important to note that despite the communalisation of city politics
in the 1940s, there was no mass exodus of Muslims from Bombay to Pakistan aer
1947. For a detailed discussion see Hansen (2001a).
7. For a detailed account of the birth and rise of the Shiv Sena see Gupta (1982),
Heuze (1995), Lele (1995), Sen (2008) and Eckart (2003).
8. Here I draw from the work of Foucault, which is lled with implications and
insights concerning spatiality (Crampton & Elden 2007). Foucault (1984)
describes the control of space as central to the exercise of power. Elsewhere he
emphasises that the space which we live in is not void but is a heterogeneous space
in history/time, dened by a set of relations. See Foucault (1986).
9. Based on his critical analysis of urban reality and everyday life, Lefebvre (1991)
maintains that spaces comprise spatial practices and representations that are inu-
enced by hegemonic ideological imaginations. Space is made up of spatial prac-
tices (buildings and actions), representations of space (conscious theories and g-
ures) and representational spaces (imaginations, experiences).
10. For the worst aected areas in the city during the 1992–93 riots, see the Srikrishna
Commission report (1998) and the report of the Indian People’s Human Rights
Tribunal (1994).
11. In 1968, when the Shiv Sena won forty-two seats in the corporation elections, it
had the largest number of representatives in the corporation aer the congress.
is considerably eased the tasks and increased the eciency of the shakhas across
the city. See Gupta (1982).
12. A study conducted by YUVA (1996) traces the concentration of Muslims over a
period of two decades in a progressively shrinking settlement now surrounded by
Hindu settlements. Drawing municipal ward boundaries between the exclusive
Hindu and Muslim areas has institutionalised this division.
13. (Accessed on November 2010).
maha_cabinet.html (Accessed on November 2010).
15. e residents have to pay a rent of Rs. 300 and the rent for commercial establish-
ments is Rs. 400 now. Earlier, it was 15–25 rupees for housing and 55 rupees was
the rent for commercial establishments.
16. However, this is illegal since the residents do not have ownership of the land and
are themselves tenants.
17. is is with reference to the areas between the square-shaped plots that were allot-
ted to those resettled.
18. e other aected areas were slums such as Kherwadi (in Bandra), Majaswadi (in
Jogeshwari) and Cheetah Camp (in Mankhurd).
pp. [33–38]
19. e rights-based approach to development (or rights discourse in development)
refers to the shi in the develoment perspectives of INGOs emphasising develop-
ment as a right of citizens that has to be claimed from state. e rights-based
approach followed by NGOs is criticised by Marxist scholars as a process that de-
politicises development, where increased emphasis is put on elite advocacy rather
than on social movements. Supporters of INGOs and NGOs, on the other hand,
argue that they re-politicise development by bringing it to the centre of citizens’
20. e percentage of slum population in M (east) is 77.55% and is higher than the
city average of 54.06%. See the Mumbai Human Development Report (2009).
21. ese pieces of information are provided by local NGOs and elected representa-
tives in the area. Ocial sources do not give segregated data based on religion or
22. is is again based on unocial estimates.
23. ere are fourteen parallel roads that cut across the entire area. A eenth one is
being planned between the garbage dump and settlement area.
24. Fieldnotes, 13 May 2010. One particular house that I visited was spacious but
minimal. ere was a large iron bed in a corner. Above the bed was the television,
which was showing a cricket World Cup match. e room had two windows and
a bathroom. ere was a lo above that served as another bedroom with a double
bed placed there and sari that served as curtain to allow the privacy of a separate
25. ‘Unauthorised’ or ‘illegal’ status is dened by the Slum Rehabilitation Act (1995)
as those slum settlements that have been built aer January 1995. e date was
extended to January 2000 by the Congress-led government in June 2009 just before
the assembly elections in order to full an election promise made in 2004.
26. rough the intervention of a local NGO, the demolition of some houses was pre-
vented as Muslims slum-dwellers had documents to prove of their existence before
27. is pattern of consumption is imitated in the M ward itself where, according to
BMC’s ocial documents, the major consumers of water are industries such as
Bharat Petroleum Corporation Limited (BPCL), Hindustan Petroleum Corpo-
ration Limited (HPCL), Pepsi, Dukes, the slaughterhouse and the Rashtriya
Chemicals and Fertilizers (RCF) colony.
28. Shivaji Nagar is described as one of the hotbeds of crime in the city by Shaban, A.,
City, Crime and Space: A Case of Mumbai Megapolis, Tata Institute of Social Sci-
ences, Centre for Development Studies, Mumbai: Tata Institute of Social Sciences,
29. Interview with Ramzan ji, 25 November 2009
30. Shields (1991) drawing largely from the work of Lefebvre, Bourdieu and Foucault
theorises social spatialisation as a social construction of the spatial and its impo-
sition and enactment in the real topography of the world.
pp. [38–48]
31. Similar connotations have been made to racial and ethnic ghettos in the west that
eectively lead to their production as socio-spatial solutions meant for ethno-
racial closure or control by the dominant mainstream. See Wacquant (2008).
32. Emma Tarlo (2003) describes a similar collective silence and the deliberate loss of
ocial memory articulated through the experiences and memories of the poor
and marginalised who were targeted in the mass slum clearance and sterilisation
drives ubiquitous in Delhi during the Emergency.
1. e authors are most grateful to Abida Desai for her so precious help in the eld.
2. On the web site of the Municipal Corporation, the rst sentence reads: ‘Ahmed-
abad, better known as Amdavad’, is initial ‘Karmabhumi’ of Mahatma Gandhi,
Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, Vikram Sarabhai and Abdul Kalam in western part of
India’ (, accessed on May
2010). Born in Tamil Nadu, Abdul Kalam, who has worked at Ahmedabad as a
scientist and was President of India in 2002–07, is the only Muslim element in
this introductory sentence where the rst name, Ahmed, is downplayed and the
Hindu notion of ‘Karmabhumi’ highlighted.
3. Jizya is a tax that non-Muslim people had to pay the rulers.
4. A. Varshney, Ethnic conict and civic life. Hindus and Muslims in India, New
Heaven/London: Yale University Press, 2002, p. 7.
5. Most of the city wall was demolished in 1924 to make the expansion of the city
easier (Kenneth L. Gillion, Ahmedabad: A Study in Indian Urban History, Berke-
ley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1968, p. 150 and p. 170).
6. Harish Doshi, ‘Traditional Neighbourhood in Modern Ahmedabad: e Pol’ in
Reader in Urban Sociology, 1991, p. 179. See also, Harish Doshi, Traditional neigh-
bourhood in a modern city, New Delhi: Abhinav Publications, 1974; and Jan Hes-
selberg, Issues in urbanisation: study of Ahmedabad city, Jaipur: Rawat, 2002.
7. Ornit Shani, Communalism, caste and Hindu nationalism, Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, 2007, p. 33.
8. Darshini Mahadevia, ‘Changing economic scenario. Informality and increased
vulnerability’, in Amitabh Kundu and Darshini Mahadevia (eds), Poverty and vul-
nerability in a globalising metropolis: Ahmedabad, New Delhi: Manak, 2002,
p. 36.).
9. Ornit Shani, Communalism, caste and Hindu nationalism, op. cit., p. 43.
10. On the inclusive power of this ‘legendary Trade Union’, see Ashutosh Varshney,
op. cit., pp. 232–234.
11. Howard Spodek, ‘From Gandhi to Violence: Ahmedabad’s 1985 Riots in Histor-
ical Perspective’ in Modern Asian Studies, vol. 23, no. 4, 1989, p. 779.
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While it is argued that Muslims are concentrated in self-employment activities, apart from noting discrimination in salaried work resulting in a push into self-employment, research has not explored additional reasons contributing to this choice. This paper employs a mixed-methods approach and through an empirically grounded work, explores the reasons given by Muslim male and female youth, primarily living in the segregated neighbourhood of Jamia Nagar in New Delhi, India, for the choice of self-employment among Muslim youth. The paper notes that while discrimination in salaried work featured as a significant reason for the choice of self-employment, it was not the overwhelming one. The choice for self-employment, rather, was attributed to a number of reasons, the salient ones being the presence of social networks in self-employment in Jamia Nagar, and the social respect earned through ownership of self-employment (apna kaam). In the narratives of the women youth, safety and respectability offered by self-employment in Jamia Nagar were highlighted as critical reasons attracting them to such occupations.
Whitehouse et al. (2019) recently concluded their groundbreaking big-data historical research by stating that “moralizing gods” followed in the wake of early increases in social complexity, rather than preceding and paving the way for such increases. According to these results, it was doctrinal (group) rituals that helped facilitate an increase in social complexity and (religious) identity. The idea of a “supernatural punishment” came later, helping to maintain the existing cooperation in societies once those societies reached a certain size. However, the focus on big data in the pursuit of these questions runs the risks of leading to oversimplifications and presuppositions. I will draw on examples from Roman religion that appear in the Seshat dataset to illustrate some critical points, and will point out some problems concerning cooperation and social complexity that follow from the way in which the historical evidence is handled and, thus, merged into the databank.
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In this chapter I examine forms of engagement with Islam in the lives of members of the Muslim middle class in Mumbai. This chapter is part of a larger work on upwardly mobile Muslims in 1 Mumbai moving out of Muslim enclaves and finding work and being educated in more socially diverse environments. This circumstance creates new ways in which faith is understood, explained to oneself and engaged with. Individuals may apply different orders of norms in the sphere of work; religion no longer integrates the other spheres of life and the community does not have the influence and authority over the individual as it did a century ago. Yet, my research, for which over 85 Sunni Muslim individuals between the ages of 22-40 years were interviewed, reveals that faith does constitute an important axis of life for most Muslims. Even for those who are actively engaged in pietistic Islamic practices, however, the elements of self-reflexivity, choice and agency are not absent. What emerges from the study are three approaches to faith which are discussed below. The levels of educational attainments and resulting economic independence are crucial factors for the processes described below. The three approaches are Weberian 'ideal types': in actual fact, individual persons may, to some extent, inhabit more than one category. Yet, as heuristic tools, the categories proposed below are useful to help us to think through distinct ways in which Islam may be understood, engaged and negotiated with by urban Muslims. Islam needs to re-imagined as something other than a fixed and static ideological structure that one merely internalizes. In a heterogeneous metropolis such as Mumbai, the lack of overarching authority structures in the matter of faith permits individuals to cultivate independent modes of imagining faith and adjust the degree to which they choose to have faith saturate their lives.
Building upon an ethnographic exploration of the pedagogy and alternative dispute resolution activities of an Islamic feminist movement in India called the Indian Muslim Women’s Movement (Bharatiya Muslim Mahila Andolan), this article speaks to the tension between Saba Mahmood’s influential account of religion and gendered agency, and a liberal feminist conception of gender equality. Anthropological explorations of Muslim women’s pious commitments as well as liberal feminist engagements with religion and culture are premised upon a presumed dichotomy between ethical engagements with religion, and a commitment to gender equality. Yet there is little analysis in existing scholarship of how gender equality is constituted by social movements premised on a religious identity, such as Islamic feminist movements. This article moves beyond thinking about gender equality merely as an abstract liberal normative good to explore how the discourse of gender equality is constituted in a movement that brings together everyday ethical commitments inspired by notions of piety and concerted everyday struggles against social and legal inequality. The ethnographic vignettes show how gender equality ( barabari) connotes social and legal equality between men and women premised on their equal spiritual status as God’s creations, their equal pious obligations irrespective of gender and the equal imperative of ethical conduct on both men and women based on Quranic values of compassion ( raham) and justice ( insaf). The pursuit of gender equality also entails reinterpretation of social norms in the light of ethical conduct, and an ethical commitment to collective struggle against gender discrimination in state and non-state forums.
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Indian society is characterised by significant horizontal (religious, regional, linguistic) and vertical (income, occupation, caste) divisions. These socio-economic fragmentations significantly shape the production of space in cities. In fact, all major cities in the country are pervaded by socio-spatial divides, which often become sources of conflict, violence, exclusion and, also, solidarity. Mumbai is the industrial, commercial and financial capital of the country. Bollywood has, over the years, helped in carving out a distinct (pan) Indian identity for itself and the city, both within and outside India, and is a major rallying and unifying aspect for India. Among all its glitter, the city is also infamous for its underworld (originating from its excluded and marginalised neighbourhoods), slums and poor residential areas. The city is pervaded by socio-spatial fragmentation and is a divided city. This chapter shows that the highest level of segregation in Mumbai is based on religion (Muslims and Non-Muslims), followed by class, caste and tribe.
What kinds of civic ties between different ethnic communities can contain, or even prevent, ethnic violence? This book draws on new research on Hindu-Muslim conflict in India to address this important question. Ashutosh Varshney examines three pairs of Indian cities, one city in each pair with a history of communal violence, the other with a history of relative communal harmony, to discern why violence between Hindus and Muslims occurs in some situations but not in others. His findings will be of strong interest to scholars, politicians, and policymakers of South Asia, but the implications of his study have theoretical and practical relevance for a broad range of multiethnic societies in other areas of the world as well. The book focuses on the networks of civic engagement that bring Hindu and Muslim urban communities together. Strong associational forms of civic engagement, such as integrated business organisations, trade unions, political parties, and professional associations, are able to control outbreaks of ethnic violence, Varshney shows. Vigorous and communally integrated associational life can serve as an agent of peace by restraining those, including powerful politicians, who would polarize Hindus and Muslims along communal lines.
In 1985 riots racked the western Indian city of Ahmedabad, continuing for a period of almost half a year, form February through July, leaving some 275 people dead, thousands injured, tens of thousands homeless, and a loss of property and trade estimated at Rs 2,200 crores (US$1.75 thousand million) ( India Today , 13 August 1985, pp. 60 and 119), in ‘the most alarmingly sustained bout of rioting (as opposed to the sort of terrorism Punjab suffered…) since India's independence’ (Manor 1986: 102).
The Idea of India, op. cit
  • Sunil Khilnani
Sunil Khilnani, The Idea of India, op. cit., p. 109.
describes a similar collective silence and the deliberate loss of official memory articulated through the experiences and memories of the poor and marginalised who were targeted in the mass slum clearance and sterilisation drives ubiquitous in Delhi during the Emergency
  • Emma Tarlo
Emma Tarlo (2003) describes a similar collective silence and the deliberate loss of official memory articulated through the experiences and memories of the poor and marginalised who were targeted in the mass slum clearance and sterilisation drives ubiquitous in Delhi during the Emergency.
See also, Harish Doshi, Traditional neighbourhood in a modern city
  • Harish Doshi
Harish Doshi, 'Traditional Neighbourhood in Modern Ahmedabad: The Pol' in Reader in Urban Sociology, 1991, p. 179. See also, Harish Doshi, Traditional neighbourhood in a modern city, New Delhi: Abhinav Publications, 1974; and Jan Hesselberg, Issues in urbanisation: study of Ahmedabad city, Jaipur: Rawat, 2002.
Religion, caste et politique
  • Christophe Jaffrelot
  • La Démocratie En Inde
Christophe Jaffrelot, La démocratie en Inde. Religion, caste et politique, Paris: Fayard, 1998.
Punjab and the Making of Pakistan
  • David Gilmartin
  • Empire
  • Islam
David Gilmartin, Empire and Islam. Punjab and the Making of Pakistan, Delhi: OUP, 1988, p. 213 sq.
Shivaji Nagar is described as one of the hotbeds of crime in the city by Shaban, A., City, Crime and Space: A Case of Mumbai Megapolis
Shivaji Nagar is described as one of the hotbeds of crime in the city by Shaban, A., City, Crime and Space: A Case of Mumbai Megapolis, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, Centre for Development Studies, Mumbai: Tata Institute of Social Sciences, 2006.