Grant TypeDissertation Fieldwork Grant
Institutional AffiliationYale U.
Grant numberGr. 9834
Approve DateApril 30, 2019
Project TitleMullick, Souvanik (Yale U.) "Transport Democracy: Small-Scale Transport Operators and Political Action in Delhi," supervised by Kalyanakrishna Sivaramkrishnan
SOUVANIK MULLICK, then a graduate student at Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut, was awarded funding in April 2019 to aid research on ‘Transport Democracy: Small-Scale Transport Operators and Political Action in Delhi,’ supervised by Kaylyana Sivaramkrishnan. How do democratic processes in the postcolonial mega-city enable and shape the political action of small-scale transport operators? This study undertook a historically informed, ethnographic investigation on the legal and political processes by which these transport operators — the erstwhile hackney carriage drivers, the motorized auto-rickshaw drivers, manual cycle-rickshaws and new electric rickshaws — become political agents in Delhi. The project examines the political action of small-scale transport operators as a window to studying urban democracy. It studies both formal and informal politics to examine the full range of street politics, legal engagements, and bureaucratic encounters, through which the urban working poor participate in postcolonial democracy in contemporary India. Examining the political engagement of a spectrum of small-scale transport operators shows in full variation the modes and significance of the working urban poor’s political action on a mega-city. The study is based upon ethnographic fieldwork conducted in Delhi, along with case-law and other governmental records-based research from 1911 onwards, to study existing and emergent forms of democratic engagement in the transport sector. In its study of democracy, the project brings center stage the claims for inclusion and recognition that the urban working poor make through their political action.