The Slumdog Entrepreneurs, running small street enterprises, with their own cultures of service and commerce - in food, waste, housekeeping, clothes - care, equipment spare parts, repair and re-use, traditional rural crafts, motor driving and domestic help, gardeners and home-delivery boys...
You name it - this so-called unorganized activity makes up 86 percent of India's workforce and contributes over 55 % to the nation’s GDP (Report of the National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector, NCEUS, Government of India, 2009)!
You and I could not live a day without its help.
Yet its called the "shadow" economy, the "informal" economy - because we choose to keep it that way - unregulated, unrecorded - to make our life in the city a little more easy, a little more cheap.
The "unorganized" sector is really not so at all. quite organized. With official governance going "missing" in the mega Indian cities, see how people manage their enterprise – off the record!
Make your neighbourhood an observatory, a lab, to solve this puzzle, not to mention the unauthorized settlements and colonies that have come up at the edges of major global cities of the world.
The self-help, informal networks and communication strategies of the poor - how they share, borrow, recycle in life, work and play - are worthy of larger attention in these times of resource scarcity.
The sustainable city of the future will increasingly be determined by what the poor consume - the quality of life the city permits not just you but your less privileged neighbour as well.