Having spent a number of years studying urban transportation in Indian cities, Karthik uncovered a strange situation. While there was general consensus in the field on the best policies to implement, few were employed by governments at the local level. This led him to explore the sociological, political and economic forces that shape the governing policies of urban spaces.
For instance, he studied the messy reality of street-vendor politics in Mumbai and Chennai, showing how – with the decline of populist political regimes – informal workers were led to appeal to the courts. He was interested in how legal institutions function in such unorthodox circumstances, and found that the effect of judicial intervention was not to establish the legality of street vending, but rather to allow street vendors a mechanism to buy time and forestall their eviction. Currently, Karthik’s research is centred around tracing the emergence of ‘rurality’ as a spatial category in India’s developmental regime, and the manner in which it was articulated discursively, institutionally, and in everyday practice from the early 20th century.
Keywords: Urban Spaces Street Vendor Politics