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ALICE Interview 09 – Sharit Bhowmik – Dhruv Pande – 20-06-2013


Questions asked during the interview:
Following questions are related to ALICE Thematic Areas of: Democratizing Democracy, Other Economies and Transformative Constitutionalism — all of which are quite related to the work of Sharit Bhowmick.

1. What exactly, are the components of Urban Informal Economy? (Structure of Alternative Economy)
2. What are the different factors that make up for the need of an informal worker? (Reasons for the rise or origin of Informal Workers)
3. What are the limits of the National Policy on Urban Street Vendors, formulated by the Government of India? (Limits of State Institutionalism in Indian Democracy leading to Transformative Constitutionalism)
4. How far has National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI) helped in resolution of some specific issues of Street Vendors and Other Informal Workers? (NASVI as an example of effective grass-roots initiative for urban informal workers)
5. Is it the Caste-dimension or the Gender which is more at the margins, within the urban informal economy? (Specific Aspects of Democratizing Democracy within Informal Economy)
6. What is the utility of urban informal economy, especially for the urban lower middle-class and the poor, residing in different quarters of big cities in India? (Significance of Other Economies).

Keywords (5-7 keywords identifying the content of the responses):
1. Urban Informal Employment
2. Services and Manufacturing
3. Home-based Production
4. Street Vendors
5. Grassroots Initiative
6. Gender Dimension
7. ‘Alternative’ Sustainable Economy

Short summary of the interview:
Professor Sharit Bhowmick talks about the urban informal employment in India. Furthermore, he elaborates on the policies of the State which have mostly been rendered ineffective for this sector in India, considering a major population of the country is sustained through this urban informal economy. One gets a glimpse of the various components of this ‘alternative’economy in India, besides noticing a gender-dimension which Sharit Bhowmick highlights through the working conditions of women as part of this economy. Analysing further, Professor Bhowmick mentions as to how this informal economy comes into existence, and what have been the grassroots initiatives in some parts of the country in order to improvise their living-working conditions. As a consequence, one sees how these economies provide a sustainable ‘alternative’ to the state-run economy in India.

Literature of relevance of the interviewed (may include texts and video):
1. Street Vendors in the Global Urban Economy. Routledge India. 2009.

2. Another Production is Possible: Beyond the Capitalist Canon (Reinventing Social Emancipation: Toward New Manifestos.
Boaventura de Sousa Santos, Sharit Bhowmik, Horácio Martins de Carvalho and Hermes Augusto Costa (2007).