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Urban Livelihoods in India - Polity NCERT Notes for UPSC

Jan 25, 2023

Urban Livelihoods in India - Polity NCERT Notes for UPSC

There are more than five thousand towns and twenty-seven big cities in India. Some big cities like Chennai, Mumbai have more than a million people living and working there which is why understanding Urban Livelihoods becomes essential for IAS aspirants. 

This article will explain Urban Livelihoods in detail and will help you to elevate your UPSC CSE preparation. So, let’s get started! 

Urban Livelihoods

Street workers 

  • A large number of people in the city work on the streets. They generally sell things or repair them or provide a service. 
  • They are self-employed and have to organise their own work. 
  • Their shops are usually temporary structures: sometimes just some boards or papers spread over discarded boxes etc.
  • Issues with the Street Workers: 
    • They can be asked to dismantle their shops at any time by the police. 
    • They have no security
    • There are certain parts of the city where these hawkers are not allowed to enter
    • Street vending was looked upon only as an obstruction to traffic and to people walking.

Ways to improve their Conditions

  • With the efforts of many organisations, the street vendoring is now recognised as a general benefit and as a right of people to earn their livelihood. 
  • The government can modify the law that banned street vendors and they can have a place to work. 
  • Hawking zones have been suggested for towns and cities. 
  • It has also been suggested that mobile vendors should be allowed to move around freely.
  • Hawkers need to be part of committees that are set up to take these and other decisions relating to them.


  • There are many people who own shops which may be small or large and sell different things.
  • Most businesspersons manage their own shops or business. 
  • They employ a number of other workers as supervisors and helpers. 
  • These are permanent shops that are given a licence to do business by the municipal corporation.

Daily Wage Labourers 

  • They work as helpers to masons and dig at construction sites, lift loads, dig pipelines etc.

Casual basis: Workers are required to come as and when the employer needs them.

Also Read: Panchayati Raj System in India - Polity NCERT Notes for UPSC

Reasons for Small workshops and factories employing casual workers

  • They are employed when the employer gets large orders or during certain seasons. 
  • At other times of the year, they have to find some other work. 

Working conditions of Casual workers

  • They are not permanent
  • No Job security: If workers complain about their pay or working conditions they are asked to leave. 
  • There is no job protection if there is ill treatment. 
  • They are also expected to work for very long hours. For example in the cloth mill units the workers work on day and night shifts, with each shift lasting 12 hours. 

Benefits of Permanent workers

  • Job security: They can expect their job to continue for a long period of time. 
  • Savings for old age: A part of their salary is kept in a fund with the government which gives them interest on these savings which can be used after their retirement.
  • Holidays: They get regular off in a week, national holidays and also gets some days as annual leave. 
  • Medical facilities for family: Company pays the medical expenses up to a certain amount for their workers families.

Interesting Points

  • There are almost one crore 'street vendors' in the country working in urban areas.
  • In a survey of Ahmedabad city, it was found that 12 per cent of all the workers in the city were people working on the street.

FAQS about Urban Livelihoods in India

What is the meaning of urban livelihoods?

Urban livelihoods include those people living in urban areas and making a living by working jobs. A livelihood is a means of making a living and urban livelihood is a means of making a living in urban areas. 

What are urban livelihood give example?

Examples include people working in offices, in government departments, municipal workers, security guards, taxi drivers, construction workers and every person earning a livelihood in a city. 

How people earn livelihood in urban areas?

There are more than five thousand towns and twenty-seven big cities in India. Some big cities like Chennai, Mumbai have more than a million people living and working there.

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