A large number of street vendors under the banner of the National Association of Street Vendors of India (NASVI) gathered at India Gate in New Delhi on Wednesday to celebrate International Street Vendors’ Day.
The international solidarity action held on Wednesday also marked the tenth anniversary of the inception of StreetNet, a global collective of street vendors’ organisations working in Latin America, Africa and Asia. NASVI is the Asia focal point of StreetNet.
Addressing the gathering, the NASVI leaders urged them to organise themselves into collectives to protect themselves. Mr Arbind Singh, the national coordinator for NASVI, said: “Since India Gate has so many street vendors, and is a popular attraction for tourists, we decided to celebrate this day here. We hope to see the workers here organise themselves into an organisation, which we will be aiding, so that they can collectively protect themselves against the problems they face.” The street vendors said they face harassment at the hands of police and municipality officials, and thus find it hard to carry on their business peacefully.
Kailasi, a vendor who earns her living peddling beaded wristbands and making henna tattoos, said: “This (peddling of goods at India Gate) is how we earn our living. We don’t have any fields or land to cultivate. So it’s not like we have any other means of earning a living. The policemen come harass us and tell us not to carry out our business.”
She is also a member of NASVI and places a lot of faith in the organisation, which she says has helped her obtain identity cards and helps her and her fellow street vendors when they are harassed by the policemen. “We call them (NASVI) and they come and help us,” she said.