UKNA - Urban Asia presentation series

Struggle for Urban Space: Politics of Slums in India’s top Smart City, Bhubaneswar

Right to shelter is an everyday struggle for the urban poor across India – from metropolis to small towns. The making of ‘illegal’ slums, continuous fight of slum dwellers for their basic right to shelter, interplay of discourses and contestations, and involvement of economic and political actors unravel interesting dynamics of urban politics in India. In this context, this presentation by Professor Pralay Kanungo will introduce Bhubaneswar, the capital city of Odisha, located in eastern part of India.

Bhubaneswar has marched forward from an ancient temple city to a modern capital city, and then finally being designated as India’s top most smart city. During this journey, side by side, it has seen a steady growth of slums of all kinds, from tiny clusters to mega complexes. Then this paper will discuss the history, planning, economy and politics of two slums: ‘Rangani Sahi’, a tiny slum, located close to State Governor’s house and ‘Salia Sahi’, a mega slum complex, consisting of cluster of slums being encircled by rich and posh localities of Bhubaneswar. Finally, it will highlight how the slum dwellers have successfully resisted state’s agenda to make the city ‘slum free’ by manoeuvring both formal and informal political networks—through democratic politics as well as militant mobilisation.

Professor Pralay Kanungo is currently the ICCR Chair of Contemporary India Studies at IIAS and the Leiden University Institute for Area Studies (LIAS). He is also Guest Professor(2015-2020) at Sichuan University, Chengdu and Honorary Professor (2015-2018) at Australian Catholic University, Melbourne. Before coming to Leiden, he was Professor and Chair, Centre for Political Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. He was also a Fellow at Nehru memorial Museum and Library, New Delhi and Visiting Professor at Maison des Sciences De L’Homme, Paris.

Kanungo is the author of RSS’s Tryst with Politics: From Hedgewar to Sudarshan (2002) and co-edited Cultural Entrenchment of Hindutva: Local Mediations and Forms of Convergence (Routledge, 2011), Public Hinduisms(Sage, 2012) and The Politics of Ethnicity in India, Nepal and China (Primus, 2014). He was also the Principal Indian Investigator of Indian-European Social Sciences Research Networking Project on Electoral Changes in Urban and Rural India (2013-2016).

Please register at: