The “Jugaad” State in Mumbai


CPR and CSH are pleased to invite you to a workshop on

Iron Cage meets Makeshift Shed – The “Jugaad” State in Mumbai
Shahana Chattaraj
Tuesday, 27 November 2018, 3:45 p.m.

Conference Hall, Centre for Policy Research

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How does the state govern cities where much of the economy is informal, on the margins of state regulatory institutions? I draw on field research in Mumbai between 2009-2016 to present an empirically-based conceptualisation of how the state works in cities like Mumbai, where ‘informality is a mode of urbanisation.’ I use the popular Indian notion of ‘jugaad,’ which refers to makeshift adaptations, workarounds and improvisation under constraints, to describe the state in Mumbai. ‘Jugaad’ practices and strategies of governance – adaptive, flexible, negotiated and contingent – are routinely applied by state actors at different levels in Mumbai, in spaces “illegible” to formal state institutions. ‘Jugaad’ governance practices are not arbitrary or merely corrupt, but rational, if ad hoc and extra-legal, adaptations around formal rules. These processes embed state actors in local power structures and crosscutting networks that span state, market and political organisations. While they enable the state to apprehend and partially incorporate the city’s informal spaces, they dissipate centralised state power and cohesiveness. The ‘jugaad’ state concept encapsulates how the formal and informal workings of the state interact and shape urban governance in largely informal cities. It draws attention to tensions and disjunctions within the state and in state-society relations in informal contexts.

About the Speaker

Dr Shahana Chattaraj is an interdisciplinary social scientist, lapsed architect and urban planner who works on urban governance, political economy and policy,  the informal economy and the future of work, and comparative urban research.  She is a visiting fellow at the Centre for Policy Research New Delhi, where she is writing a book comparing state projects of urban transformation in Mumbai and Shanghai. Shahana holds a PhD from Princeton University in Public Affairs (Urban Policy/Sociology), a Masters degree in Development Planning from MIT and a degree in architecture from SPA, New Delhi. She has held fellowships and taught at Oxford University, the University of Pennsylvania and Princeton. Before her doctoral studies, Shahana worked at the World Bank and the United Nations, as well as a community development organisation in Delhi. Prior to joining CPR, Shahana worked on a research project at the University of Sheffield on the implementation of the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor in Gujarat and Uttar Pradesh.

This workshop is free and there is no registration required. Find all the available videos of our previous workshops, here.

This is the hundredth and sixth in a series of Urban Workshops planned by the Centre de Sciences Humaines (CSH), New Delhi and Centre for Policy Research (CPR). These workshops seek to provoke public discussion on issues relating to the development of the city and try to address all its facets including its administration, culture, economy, society and politics. For further information, please contact: Olivier Telle of CSH at, Partha Mukhopadhyay at or Marie-Hélène Zerah at

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