Social exclusion in an urbanizing world

SHARMA, VINAY (1); AGRAWAL, RAJAT (1); MISHRA, HIMANSHU SHEKHAR (2); KAR, SUJATA (1) (2018). 'SOCIAL EXCLUSION IN AN URBANIZING WORLD' Paper presented at the annual conference of the HDCA, Buenos Aires, Argentina 2018.


Urbanization is a witness to social exclusion in several ways and there are issues such as residential segregation and urban inequality which can be suitably addressed though in terms of development of infrastructure.

But, there are issues such as social marginalization and exclusion, violence and human trafficking which, evolve out of social fragmentation, spatial segregation and the widespread growth of informal settlements, or slums reflecting the persistence of social and economic inequality in the context of the expansion of cities.

This paper is all about begging and human trafficking embedded in urbanization, especially, of religious places as observed during past three decades in case of the city of Haridwar in the foothills of Himalayas in India taken as a case. The paper on the one hand proposes for ‘Capability Approach’ to contribute in the critical thinking to develop adequate policies for making cities more inclusive and safe and on the other hand proposes for usage of Technology through the concept of Senseable cities as propelled by MIT senseable city lab ( to focus on human side of the cities for enhancing the safety of people encapacitating people especially children subjected to begging and human trafficking so as to enhance their ‘freedom’ as explained by the ‘capability approach’.

Religious places have a peculiarity in terms of the context mentioned in terms of not only a huge floating population but also in terms of income generation through exploitation of or inheritance of a feeling of (donation) by the visitors coming and people staying there.

The Context of Begging and Human Trafficking in relation to the Urbanization of Religious Places like Haridwar:

Places like that of city of Haridwar situated on the banks of the river Ganges where around 100 Million people visit throughout the year for various religious and now the tourism based reasons have witnessed need based urbanization at a random level and a very fast pace.

Enhanced road connectivity, rail transport, other services provided by the local Government and the active  role of several spiritually and religiously oriented organizations who have spread there communication and activities at a very random pace has been motivating the multifold increase in the number of the visitors from around the World and especially from within the country.

Some occasions have seen a huge gain in numbers of people. For example events like that of Kumbh Mela (one of the largest congregations in the world where more than 80 Million people participate within a time span of 2 months at a gap of every 6 years) and annual events like Kanwar Yatra where people visit to carry the holy waters of Ganges every year during Sawan (around monsoon) and walk back on foot to their homes most of them travelling more than 200 kilometres are prominent.

People when visit holy places and that too in large numbers, attract begging looking at the economic scenario of the countries like India which is what has happened in Haridwar. Need for begging enhances slums which in turn has given space to Human Trafficking at a very large level. There may or may not be a sequential relation proven in terms of which of these leads to the other but a correlative increase has been found and there are researches and reports to substantiate the same.

There has been a first-hand observation of the authors in relation to the same as the authors have been working in association with some Non-Government Organizations in this regard and have been brainstorming with several agencies alongwith speaking to the beggars at several occasions.

There is a special impetus in the levels of involvement of children in relation to this evil where in several important and contemporary reports and statements given by Nobel Laureate Kailash Satyarthi also explicitly explain the point.

One of the reports mentions the details as follows:

India is a source, destination, and transit country for men, women, and children subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. The forced labor of an estimated 20 to 65 million citizens constitutes India’s largest trafficking problem; men, women, and children in debt bondage are forced to work in industries such as brick kilns, rice mills, agriculture, and embroidery factories. A common characteristic of bonded labor is the use of physical and sexual violence as coercive means.

An interesting essay Custom Urbanization: The Effect of Globalization in India adds further details to the subject and in fact there are a huge literature with reference to the same. Link:

Kerry Preibisch, Warren Dodd and Yvonne Su in "Irreconcilable Differences? Pursuing the Capabilities Approach within the Global Governance of Migration" explain the subject in apt details.

We as authors have observed the account of rise of Human Trafficking and begging longitudinally for several years and have found interesting facts about the rise in the numbers not only in terms of the development of a structure and the evil getting more and more organized but also in terms of this trade being perpetuated by the silence of the society. The rise has been humongous. But can we do something?

Capability Approach for critical thinking on designing policies to achieve the goal of making cities resilient, inclusive, safe and sustainable and Technology for concrete measures:

Martha C. Nussbaum in one of her papers says that "Violence against women is a global problem of great magnitude and that it is the capabilities approach we need, if we are to describe the damage done by such violence in the most perspicuous way and make the most helpful recommendations for dealing with it". 

This paper not only subscribes to the above mentioned views but also proposes for the role of technology through IT based and other senseable interventions for developing the capacity of the vulnerable women and children. The said scientific interventions developed and practiced locally by the authors at institutional level have a substantial role to play and would strengthen the hands and efforts of Government and organizations working in the direction achieving the development goals.


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