The Mumbai Model in Delhi: Shifting Relations of Developers, Residents and the Local State in Housing and Land Politics

Saturday, 21 July 2018: 09:00
Oral Presentation
Liza WEINSTEIN, Northeastern University, USA
Anitra BALIGA, London School of Economics and Political Science, India
Contributing to an understanding of the political economy of developers, this paper analyzes how large and small development firms work with local governments and urban residents to shape the field of informal settlement upgrading and low-income housing construction in urban India. Based on a case study of Mumbai’s Slum Rehabilitation Scheme (SRS), it argues that configurations of local state power, including the relative strength and coherence of administrative and political institutions, shape the relative influence that private developers can garner in this field. The paper traces the shifts and mobility of SRS over the past 25 years, revealing the ways it has changed in response to both the changing field of property development in India and emerging housing and urban land rights movements across the country. It traces the program through three periods: first from 1991 to 2004, the program’s early years, during which Mumbai’s politicians worked to craft a cross-subsidized housing program that was both sufficiently populist and entailed hefty enough incentives to elicit participation from private developers. During the second period, from 2004 to 2012, the program’s aims and incentives were altered as both property development firms grew larger and more international, and housing advocates and activists grew savvier and more effectively networked. During the third and current period, beginning around 2008, the “Mumbai Model” of privately financed in-situ slum upgrading has become a mobile policy model and has been adopted by the Delhi government as a way to “make Delhi slum free.” Drawing on both historical and comparative analysis, this paper demonstrates that local configurations of state power and urban democracy affect how private developers operate within the field of urban development. These findings contribute to an emerging political economy of developers by revealing the importance of the institutional and political context in which they operate.