A Conversation with: Activist Gautam Bhan
The New York Times
11 December 2013
Image: The New York Times
Activist and researcher Gautam Bhan (Ph.D. Planning ’12) raises social questions about civil liberties and human rights in an urbanizing India, and is active as part of a larger conversation about marginalization with respect to communities such as L.G.B.T. and urban poor populations.
In response to the December 11 Supreme Court ruling restoring a colonial-era law banning gay sex, Bhan has led the gay community as a spokesman for gay rights. He is a key figure in the protest movement as one of the strongest advocates for L.G.B.T. rights, and works as a petitioner in the legal battle to decriminalize homosexuality in India.
Bhan focuses on slums and urban marginalization as areas of concern in his research paper, “Of Slums or Poverty: Notes of Caution from Census 2011.” With collaborator Arindam Jana, Bhan examines the correlation between slums and urban poverty in India, delving into the slum data from Census 2011 and the question of why few cities and towns report slums. Bhan’s research cautions against making the assumption that “if slums are doing better, therefore, so are the poor,” and proposes targeting the slum and the urban poor as two separate sites of action. Gautam Bhan currently work at the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS), a national education institution committed to the equitable, sustainable and efficient transformation of Indian settlements.