The Bartlett Development Planning Unit


The DPU remembers Jockin Arputham

15 October 2018

The DPU are saddened to hear the news that SDI president Jockin Arputham passed away over the weekend.


Jockin Arputham founded the National Slum Dwellers Federation in India and was president of Slum/Shack Dwellers International (SDI), with a career as an activist against inequality, displacement, and for more inclusive urban development that spanned half a century.

Jockin negotiated hard to improve the lives of millions across the globe, and was a great source of inspiration for many of us at the DPU who are working for a more socially just urban development.

He was was born in 1946 in Kolar Gold Fields, near Bangalore in the south of India, spending much of his early life there with his family. He moved to Mumbai in 1963 to become a carpenter, living in the Janata ‘slum’ community. It was here that he became involved in mobilising residents to fight eviction.

Following the founding of the Federation in 1975, Jockin went on to ally this with Mahila Milan, the Indian federation of women slum and pavement dweller savers. He lived in slums for most of his adult life, working first in Mumbai and then across the world, encouraging and supporting federations of slum residents to improve the quality of their lives.  He worked for more than 40 years building representative organisations into powerful partners with governments and international agencies for the betterment of urban living.

In 2014 Jockin and SDI were nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in a bid put forth by Swedish Minister for Public Administration and Housing Stefan Attefall. The nomination was a recognition their commitment to the struggle against urban inequality through the organisation of the poorest of the poor, primarily women, in cities.

More about Arputham's work can be found in this Environment & Urbanization paper. The paper describes his life and work plus the many different methods he has used to fight eviction and get government support for people-centred development over the past 40 years.

Photo: Abhijit Bhatlekar/Mint