The Impossibility of World-Class Slum-Free Indian Cities and the Fantasy of ‘Two Indias’

  • Tara van Dijk
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Urban Anthropology book series (PSUA)


A Žižekian critique of ideology is applied to the elite visions of making ‘world-class’ and ‘slum-free’ Indian cities. This reveals both the impossibility of this utopia (or dystopia) and how it is covered over by the fantasy of one India holding the ‘Shining’ or ‘Rising’ India back. Thus, the reason for why ‘India can’t plan its cities’ is transferred from the structural contractions of contemporary capitalist urbanization and placed onto the ‘risk averse’ or backward mentalities of the ‘other India’.


Civil Society Urban Poor Indian City Political Society Survival Economy 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Bhan, Gautam. 2013. Planned Illegalities. Economic and Political Weekly 48(24): 59–70.Google Scholar
  2. Brown, Wendy. 2015. Undoing the Demos. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.Google Scholar
  3. Chakravartty, P., and S. Sarkar. 2013. Entrepreneurial Justice: The New Spirit of Capitalism in Emergent India. Popular Communication 11(1): 58–75.Google Scholar
  4. Chatterjee, Partha. 2004. The Politics of the Governed: Reflections on Popular Politics in Most of the World. New York: Columbia University Press.Google Scholar
  5. ———. 2008a. Democracy and Economic Transformation in India. Economic and Political Weekly, 19 April, pp. 53–62.Google Scholar
  6. ———. 2008b. Peasant Cultures of the Twenty-First Century 1. Inter-Asia Cultural Studies 9(1): 116–126.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Fernandes, Leela. 2000. Nationalizing the Global: Media Images, Cultural Politics and the Middle Class in India. Media, Culture & Society 22(5): 611–628.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. ———. 2004. The Politics of Forgetting: Class Politics, State Power and the Restructuring of Urban Space in India. Urban Studies 41(12): 2415–2430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. ———. 2010. The Violence of Forgetting: Poverty and Change in Post-Liberalization India. Critical Asian Studies 42(2): 265–272.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Ghertner, D. Asher. 2015. Rule by aesthetics: World-class city making in Delhi. New York: Oxford University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Gidwani, Vinay, and Anant Maringanti. 2016. The Waste-Value Dialectic Lumpen Urbanization in Contemporary India. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 36(1): 112–133.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Gidwani, Vinay, and Rajyashree N. Reddy. 2011. The Afterlives of “Waste”: Notes from India for a Minor History of Capitalist Surplus. Antipode 43(5): 1625–1658.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Glynos, J., and Y. Stavrakakis. 2008. Lacan and Political Subjectivity: Fantasy and Enjoyment in Psychoanalysis and Political Theory. Subjectivity 24(1): 256–274.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Harriss-White, Barbara. 2010. Work and Wellbeing in Informal Economies: The Regulative Roles of Institutions of Identity and the State. World Development 38(2): 170–183.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. MacDonald, Scott B. 2006. A Tale of Two Indias. Society 43(5): 72–77.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Marcuse, Peter. 2005. ‘The City’ as Perverse Metaphor. City 9(2): 247–254.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. McFarlane, C. 2012. From Sanitation Inequality to Malevolent Urbanism: The Normalisation of Suffering in Mumbai. Geoforum 43: 1287–1290.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Roy, Ananya. 2009. Why India Cannot Plan its Cities: Informality, Insurgence and the Idiom of Urbanization. Planning Theory 8(1): 76–87.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. ———. 2014. Slum-free Cities of the Asian Century: Postcolonial Government and the Project of Inclusive Growth. Singapore Journal of Tropical Geography 35(1): 136–150.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  20. Roy, Ananya, and Aihwa Ong, ed. 2011. Worlding Cities: Asian Experiments and the Art of Being Global, Vol. Vol. 42. Malden, MA: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  21. Sanyal, Kalyan. 2007. Rethinking Capitalist Development: Primitive Accumulation, Governmentality, and Postcolonial Capitalism. New Delhi: Routledge India.Google Scholar
  22. Schuster, Aaron. 2016. The Trouble with Pleasure: Deleuze and Psychoanalysis. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Shatkin, Gavin, ed. 2013. Contesting the Indian City: Global Visions and the Politics of the Local. West Sussex: John Wiley & Sons.Google Scholar
  24. van Dijk, Tara. 2011. Networks of Urbanization in Two Indian cities. Environment and Urbanization Asia 2(2): 303–319.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. van Dijk, T. 2016. Looking Awry at the Function of Agency in Development Studies with Slavoj Žižek. Under Review. Alternatives. Google Scholar
  26. van Dijk, T., A. Bhide, and V. Shivtare. 2016. When a Participatory Slum Sanitation Project Encounters Urban Informality: The Case of the Greater Mumbai Metropolitan Region. International Area Studies Review 19(1): 45–59.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Zasloff, Jonathan. 2011. India’s Land Title Crisis: The Unanswered Questions. Jindal Global Law Review 3: 11–29.Google Scholar
  28. Žižek, Slavoj. 1989. The Sublime Object of Ideology. New York: Verso.Google Scholar
  29. ———. 1993. Tarrying with the Negative: Kant, Hegel, and the Critique of Ideology. Durham: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  30. ———. 2000. The Ticklish Subject: The Absent Centre of Political Ontology. New York: Verso.Google Scholar
  31. ———. 2002. For They Know Not What They Do: Enjoyment as a Political Factor. Verso.Google Scholar
  32. ———. 2003. On Belief. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tara van Dijk
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Technology and Society StudiesMaastricht UniversityMaastrichtNetherlands
  2. 2.Institute for Housing and Urban Development StudiesRotterdamNetherlands

Personalised recommendations