Housing for all, understood by few:
Colloquial narratives from Delhi
Swati Janu and Anushka Shahdadpuri, in conversation with Camila Cociña
Keywords: colloquial, India, master planning, housing, urban vocabulary, urban informality.
In this conversational piece, the authors reflect on their process of designing an interactive toolkit, named ‘Kaun Hai Master? Kya Hain Plan’ (Hindi for ‘Who is the Master? What is the Plan?’), in a step towards linguistic decolonisation. It was developed as a part of the Main Bhi Dilli (Hindi for ‘I’m Delhi too’) Campaign—a civic society campaign in Delhi formed to inclusively reimagine the latest Master Plan for Delhi 2041. The toolkit deconstructed the technocratic documents in English that represent Delhi’s Master Plans, and present a more inclusive alternative to the typical top-down processes behind formulating them. It was developed keeping in mind the communities who are typically left out of planning processes. Drawing from the experience of the workshops conducted using the toolkit, emergent narratives are offered to discuss methods in which key terms and concepts related to housing can be broken down to inform, and align with, people’s struggles in asserting their right to the city. The authors discuss outcomes from the workshops that may enable us to think of ways to embed learnings from on the ground experiences in policy and planning frameworks. Simultaneously, they urge for the expansion of vocabulary located within a particular place and its people.