In 1992, a mob of right wing Hindu nationalists dismantled the Babri Masjid in Ayodha, claiming that the mosque was situated on “Ramjanambhumi”, literally, the birthplace of the Hindu god Ram. This event stoked incidents of communal violence across India, most notably in Bombay, where close to 1000 people, mainly Muslims, were killed. The heinous nature of these riots was exacerbated by the role of municipal and state government institutions, such as the police and army, that did little to stem the violence, and in many cases, decisively aided in its progress.
This studio asked participants to produce schemes for public housing in Bombay. The task is problematic, in that the imagined “combination of government and civil society charged with administering” the right to housing could simultaneously be “charged” with overseeing the slaughter of thousands of its own citizens. Moreover, the very notion of “right” becomes unhinged when (Muslim) victims of violence seek refuge in what amount to Muslim ghettos, and in so doing, are accused of abandoning the (secular) polity upon which such rights are normally conferred.
My proposal foregrounds the relationship between housing and citizenship in this context of communal tension and violence. Citizens displaced by rioting and its aftermath are assembled into a new electoral ward that stands on the thresholds of three existing such wards in Central Bombay. Housing becomes a machine for the promulgation of Indian democracy, with all of its idealism and shortcomings, as politicians are encouraged to battle for the support of this newly consolidated constituency. More importantly, the (formally) visible nature of this ward should remind government institutions of their accountability to even the more vulnerable electoral bodies. Finally, the contestation of citizenship is (hopefully) de-activated, as the very fact of habitation in the new architectural-electoral ward affirms that its residents are undoubtedly Indians—citizens who are home to stay.
Status: School Project