30 May 2012
Dr Susan Chaplin leads 'Tiffin Talk' at the Australia India Institute
Dr Sue Chaplin was a guest at the Australia India Institute’s Tiffin Talks speaking on ‘The Politics of Sanitation in Urban India’.
Organised by the Australia India Institute, Tiffin Talks air a wide range of views on India with lively discussions over lunch.
On Thursday, May 24, 2012, Dr Chaplin presented 'The Politics of Sanitation in Urban India'. The presentation argued that the environmental problems confronting Indian cities have arisen because millions of people have been forced to live in illegal settlements that lack adequate sanitation and other basic urban services. This is the result of two factors.
The first is the legacy of the colonial city characterised by inequitable access to sanitation services, a failure to manage urban growth and the proliferation of slums and the inadequate funding of urban governments. The second is the nature of the post-colonial state, which, instead of being an instrument for socio-economic change, has been dominated by coalitions of interests, accommodated by the use of public funds to provide private goods.
This has enabled the middle class to monopolise what sanitation services the state has provided because the urban poor, despite their political participation, have not been able to exert sufficient pressure to force governments to effectively implement policies designed to improve their living conditions. The consequence is that public health and environmental policies have frequently become exercises in crisis intervention instead of being preventive measures which benefit the health and well-being of the whole urban population.
Susan Chaplin is a Research Officer at the Centre for Sustainable Organisations and Work, RMIT University where she is a member of a research team examining the social, political and historical bases of community awareness and resilience in bushfire contexts. Previously she has worked on issues of urban development, vulnerable populations, displacement and climate change adaptation in India and is the author of The Politics of Sanitation in India: Cities, Services and the State, Orient Blackswan, New Delhi 2011.