Bengaluru Jilla Beedhi Vyaapari Sanghatanegala Okkuta ‘s Study on Vendors

The (Federation of Street Vendors Union in Bangalore District) has begun a study of street vendors in two wards of Bangalore – SK Garden and BTM layout. In both these areas, the Street Vendors Federation does not have a presence. The study is conducted in two parts – one, a mapping exercise and two, interviews with the street vendors in the area. Through the mapping process we hope to better understand where, what and when vendors are vending in different areas, attaining an overall picture, through the mapping process, could disclose unexplored insights into their vending logistics.

The interviews will help draw out a picture of issues that vendors are facing on a more micro level. It may also reveal glean insights into issues that do not come up when the union operates in ‘crisis’ mode. These issues may include scrutinies such as what aspects of street vending are interesting or difficult, what kinds of changes people want, people’s future plans and so on.

Street vendors are a highly diverse group of people with a range of different backgrounds and ambitions. Consequently, supporting efforts to work together across various divides is not always easy. It is hoped that this study might support the work of the federation by illuminating new perspectives into working with street vendors. People’s own narratives about their lives might emphasise issues the federation had not paid attention to in the past. Geographical distribution patterns might point the way to new modes of organising; new issues pertaining to these particular areas may emerge. Additionally, the process of conducting the study is making us think about the kinds of pitfalls or traps government officials might confront if they end up conducting an official vendor survey as per the requirements of the “Street Vendors (Protection of Livelihood and Regulating Street Vending) Act (2014)”. This in turn will furnish grounds for a process of articulating demands for such studies.

Ongoing learning is an important part of any social movement, even with regards to re-assessing the fundamental assumptions of the work one is doing. This study is still in its early stages, and so it remains to be seen what the results of the study will show.

 Guest Piece By Ashwin Thomas