Alliance for a Secular and Democratic South Asia
p r e s e n t s
India: An Urban Battleground – a talk by Dr. Parthosarathy Ray
FRI. JUL 26 | 6:30 pm
MIT Building 4, Room 237
77 Mass Ave, Cambridge
Over the last decade or so, the focus of most activists and organizations in India has been mostly on the countryside, where large scale displacement and land grab has been going on in the interests of national and multinational capital. However, in the meantime, the urban conflict over land, over the right to the city, and over proper working and living conditions has also become more and more intense.
Actually, the conflicts in the rural areas and urban areas are interlinked by economics and the commonality of class interests. At the fundamental level, this battle, beyond the rhetoric on urban development and beautification, on rights and rehabilitation, on investment and industrialization, is class conflict. It is a conflict between the urban working class and the bourgeoisie, and the basic question in contention is the “right to the city”. In some places the conflict is taking the shape of slum eviction and resistance to it, in others, it is reflected in the militant action of unorganized labor.
The contours of this conflict are going to shape the future nature and the character of the cities in India, where most of the economic activity in the country is already concentrated, and understanding and developing a proper response to it is therefore of immense importance to all of us.
Partho Sarothi Ray is a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at the Indian Institute of Science Education and Research, Kolkata. He has been active in the anti-displacement movements around India and has been part of the struggles of the urban poor in Kolkata and Bengaluru. He is a founder member of the solidarity forum Sanhati. He was the first activist to do a thorough ground-level reporting of the movement in Lalgarh, West Bengal, and has written extensively on the political economy of contemporary India, especially the political economy of urban struggles.