Thursday, May 14, 2015

Some studies about empowerment

In a previous post, I said "most people are corrupt and take advantage of whatever privileges they have". I meant not just corporations and the -1 percent. In ny case, in what sense is this correct? at personal level, I have seen how cast connections work in India or in different countries middle class people encroaching public land, or people using office stationary for personal purposes.At the academic level, I have read some articles from India in connection with "The 74th amendment, or Nagarapalika Act, provides a legal framework for urban self-governance, and the ministry of urban development of the government of India claims on its web site that the Act has “made the urban local bodies into vibrant self-governing institutions”." John Harriss in a study of civil society organizations in Chennai says "Finally, to sum up. The kind of local organisation in civil society that is looked for in the agenda of “empowerment” does exist in a metropolitan city of India like Chennai, but it is very largely exclusive in regard to the urban poor of the informal working class – certainly as active agents. It is organisation of and for the “consumer-citizen” subjects of the neoliberal state, and much of the activity that it sustains is directed at disciplining the urban poor rather than supporting their struggles over rights to housing, livelihood and protection, or their self-realisation. It is important, however, to nuance these conclusions, for there are organisations and activities that do address the needs and interests of poor people, support their claims to political citizenship and aim to extend the possibilities for them to participate in local governance. But there are then the antinomies of representative democratic politics." There are similar studies from other cities. Here is the summary of Solomon Benjamin's paper about Bangalore:
"SUMMARY: This paper suggests that an understanding of poverty in cities such as Bangalore (often referred to as India’s Silicon Valley) requires more attention to the governance processes in which different groups compete for public investments and support. It describes the differences between the “local” and the “corporate” economies within Bangalore and their links with government. The local economies provide most of the population (including virtually all poor groups) with their livelihoods. They mostly develop outside the “master plan” areas, with diverse and complex economies and land tenure forms within which poor groups find accommodation and work. Their links with government are through local government – the City Corporation and its councillors and lower level bureaucracy. The corporate economies include the information technology industries for which Bangalore is well-known. Most of their links with government are with state and national parastatal agencies that control most of Bangalore’s development functions and have access to most government funding. But there is little local representation in these agencies. This profoundly disadvantages poor groups and the local economies in the competition for land, infrastructure and services. Rigid land use controls in the expanding corporate enclave areas exclude most pro-poor economic activity and threaten poorer groups’ fragile claims to land. Poor groups suffer demolition, resettlement, increased land prices and a governance system in which their local representative structure has little power. Meanwhile, the publicly sponsored “mega-projects” in Bangalore do little to support the local economies that are so important for the city’s prosperity; indeed, as this paper describes, many serve to disrupt them."
I will try to find some other article that I read and will post the links to them when I find them.

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