ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Participation through WhatsApp in Urban Waste Management

Citizen–Government Relations and Outcomes in Mumbai’s Participatory Waste Management Policies

Using the cases of two participatory policies for waste management in Mumbai—Advanced Locality Management and Swachh Mumbai Prabodhan Abhiyan—this paper explores WhatsApp as a platform for citizen–government interactions in urban policy implementation and its impact on participation and waste management outcomes.

Author is thankful to all the respondents of their primary research, who took out their valuable time to share their thoughts and experiences. They are sincerely grateful to their mentor, Lalitha Kamath for her continuous support and guidance.

The decentralisation of urban governance in the 1990s in ­India promoted public participation. City governments “invited” (Baud and Nainan 2008; Zerah 2009) public participation for basic service provisions through limited (Arnstein 1969) avenues like feedback, consultations, managing/financing of policy implementation, etc. On the contrary, citizens exercise agency to engage in governance through claims-making and negotiation thereby “inventing” or “claiming” participatory spaces (Baud and Nainan 2008; Bjorkman and Venkataramani 2017; Zerah 2009) beyond the limits of invited participation.

The role of technology for participation in urban governance can be seen from this lens. Technology use in participation is considered to democratise governance and increase the efficiency of basic service delivery while making cities “smart” (Datta 2015). With the proliferation of affordable smartphones and an increase in internet use (Banaji and Bhat 2018), websites/applications for interpersonal communication and sharing—commonly known as social media—have tremendously incre­ased. Of the popular social media platforms in India, WhatsApp has the highest users—53 crore in 2021 (Chakravarti 2021).

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Updated On : 27th Feb, 2023
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