National Consultation ‘Making Delhi a Caring City’
With a view to make Delhi a caring city, the Indo-Global Social Service Society (IGSSS), New
Delhi, organised a day-long National Consultation on ‘Making Delhi a Caring City: Review
and Way Forward’, India International Centre (IIC), New Delhi, 13 March 2012.
The consultation brought to light the need for looking at the city through the eyes of the
communities living on its margins and making Delhi a more caring city and an egalitarian
society. Addressing the participants, K.P. Fabian, former Ambassador and President, IGSSS, said
the government is able to document the number of billionaires, but it has no data on the homeless
people in the country which is strange.
Miloon Kothari, Executive Director, Housing and Land Rights Network (HLRN) and former
Special Rapporteur on Adequate Housing, United Nations Human Rights Council, said the
increase in the number the homeless people is the result of the neoliberal policies of the
government. The government’s urban policies are directed at displacing people for creating
complexes, business malls, etc. People who were displaced and evicted in the building of the city
find no place in the city. Development policies should meet the need of the most vulnerable first,
based on the principles of the constitution and human rights. Although there are policies and
schemes for the rural poor, they are unable to cater to the needs of the urban poor. Kothari said
instead of eviction polices we require alternative housing polices for the homeless in the cities.
Harsh Mander, Supreme Court Commissioner on the Right to Food and member National
Advisory Council (NAC), criticised the middle class attitude and prejudices against the homeless
people in the city. The homeless people in cities are increasing because the government is
making less and less investment in the agriculture sector for the last 20 years, which has forced
people to migrate. Although there are enough policies for rural poor, government is actually
working against them and treats the urban poor as illegitimate citizens. Shelters for the homeless
in cities are not a solution, but a necessity in the current scenario. The problem of homeless is an
ongoing humanitarian crisis, Mander said.
K.B. Saxena, Professor of Social Justice and Governance, Council for Social Development
(CSD), New Delhi, said the various censuses failed to enumerate the homeless in the country.
The present development plans are based on a project mode, which do not reflect the
development priorities and hence the plans are not inclusive. In the current scenario, polices are
made not by the elected representatives but by the nexus of corporate, bureaucrats and the
political class. Saxena said homeless people do not need charity; they need rights and
entitlements based on our constitution.
Rita Panicker Pinto, Director, Butterflies, New Delhi, spoke about the need for interventions for
children. Dr. Usha Ramanathan, Independent Law Researcher, shared on the need for scrapping
the beggary law. Ashraf Patel, Pravah, New Delhi, highlighted how youth can be made change
agents. Rashmi Singh, Executive Director, National Mission for Women’s Empowerment,
Government of India, stressed on building partnerships between government and civil society
organisations. Amita Joseph, BCF-India, briefly shared how corporates can care for the neediest.
Shubha Rajan, Senior Advisor, External Relations, Confederation of Indian Industry (CII), for
the first time confessed publicly that how when she (who belonged to the Royal family of
Travancore) was rendered homeless; she too slept on the railway station platforms with her
children, and due to this she understands the plight of CityMakers (Homeless Residents). She got
the courage to speak of her life due to this day long consultation.
Bharti Ali, HAQ - Centre for Child Rights- spoke how the Convention on the Rights of the Child
(CRC) was flouted and still many rights never reaches them.
The national consultation brought together urban planners, representatives of civil society
organisations, academics, people’s representatives, bureaucrats, media and also the CityMakers
A special message for the consultation from the eminent jurist Justice V.R. Krishna Iyer, former
judge of Supreme Court of India, was read out at the consultation.
CityMakers (Homeless Residents) Charter
for Making Delhi a Caring City
1. Permanent houses for all CityMakers
2. Identity proof, ration cards for all CityMakers
3. Stop police brutalities - Protection and safety against police
4. Free medical facilities for one and all
5. No exploitation of women on streets
6. Opportunities for sustainable livelihood
7. Proper drinking water, food and clothes to lead a dignified life
8. Electricity and proper toilet facilities
9. Formal and informal education for men, women and children
10. Clean and pollution-free Delhi
11. Free and good transport facilities for CityMakers
12. Accountable government
13. Playground for children
14. Addiction-free city
15. Unemployment allowance.
Girl Child’s Charter
for Making Delhi a Caring City
1. Teach me with love
2. Show care and love towards me
3. Protect me from exploitation – sexual, physical and mental
4. Want privacy, dignity in my own house with electricity and garden
5. Need proper drinking water facility and safe and clean toilets
6. Ask locality residents not to tease and laugh at me
7. Government school teachers shouldn’t discriminate between rich and poor students
8. Education in government schools should be at par with private institutions
9. Food at government schools needs to be improved, else we stay hungry
10. Want a park to play
11. Sexual harassers should be imprisoned.
Homeless too have the Right to Sleep
The Supreme Court has spoken out about the ‘Right to Sleep’. This is an important recognition,
most importantly for those who face trouble in finding a place and undisturbed peace to exercise
this right. Protecting the Right to Sleep of the homeless is the responsibility of the state, just as it
is the obligation of the state to prevent any violation of this and other fundamental rights. The
Supreme Court, however, has excluded the ‘homeless’ from this right in its judgment on the
“Suo Moto Writ Petition (CRL.) No. 122 of 2011 in RE: Ramlila Maidan incident
DT.4/5.06.2011 v. Home Secretary, Union of India and others.” The judge observed that “More
so, I am definitely not dealing herein with the rights of homeless persons who
may claim right to sleep on footpath or public premises but restrict the case only to the
extent as under what circumstances a sleeping person may be disturbed…”.
This is not merely unfortunate, but disentitles the poor from the rights guaranteed by the
constitution. The homeless are the most sleep deprived people and this consultation declares
in unequivocal terms that the homeless are as much the citizens and they are equally
entitled to the fundamental rights as any other citizen of this country.
IGSSS Shreshtha Puraskar
The Shreshtha Puraskar (Award for excellence) was instituted by the Indo-Global Social
Service Society (IGSSS) in its Golden Jubilee Year 2011 to recognise organisations/individuals
who have made significant contributions in the field of development. This year the award is
given for significant Urban Interventions, especially for bettering the lives of CityMakers
Shri Pragada Srinivasu (Andhra Pradesh), Nidan (NGO based in Bihar), Aashray Adhikar
Abhiyan and Chetanalaya (NGOs based in Delhi) and Hindustan Times (Media) were given
Shreshtha Puraskar. The awards were presented at the sidelines of the National Consultation in
Indo-Global Social Service Society (IGSSS) is a non-profit organisation working with the
mandate for a humane social order based on truth, justice, freedom and equity. Established in
1960, IGSSS works for the capacity building and enlightenment of the vulnerable communities
across the country through a rights-based framework for their effective participation in
development. With its presence in 17 states of India, IGSSS has set its thematic focus on
promoting sustainable livelihood, energising the youth as change makers, protecting lives,
livelihood and assets from the impact of hazards, advocating for the rights of CityMakers
(homeless citizens) and developing a cadre of leaders from the community as well as civil
society organisations. Gender is an underlining theme across all its interventions.