Critical human security and the uneven distribution of risk and insecurity: Neighbourhoods and the pandemic in Delhi, India

Patricia A Kennett*, Shrawan Acharya, Jitendra Agarwal, Syed Salimuddin, Deepali Sanasam

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to conferenceConference Paperpeer-review


The recent pandemic has highlighted the importance of understanding the role of place and space, cities and communities in shaping people’s uneven exposure to risk and insecurity, as well as their opportunities, capacity and resources to protect themselves from harm. Absolute increases in the urban population in India, and in Delhi National Capital Region (NCR) in particular, has occurred in the context of rapid economic growth but limited social progress, manifesting in rising inequality in economic, social and cultural opportunities within and between cities, between rural and urban areas, and between men and women, as well as conflict, crises and environmental degradation. These dynamics have resulted in the transformation of urban space, but also disconnected and under-developed governance mechanisms and expertise, limited planning, consultation and accountability, and climate change. These challenges have shaped whether, as well as the extent to which, different groups of residents across the NCR have access to basic services, decent housing, health care, viable opportunities to gain employment, and experience community and environmental security. In this context, this paper is an exploration of the impact of and policy responses to the recent pandemic on people and places in Delhi NCR.
This paper draws out the findings of a survey of 90 households across three different neighbourhoods located in a District of Delhi. The household survey integrates the conceptual frame of critical human security addressing questions relating to health, economic, environmental and community security, as well as personal and political freedom. It seeks to draw out the experiences of the pandemic for people living in three different neighbourhood types, and highlight how dimensions of insecurity coalesce and impact on the daily lives of households and how this varies across the neighbourhoods and for different groups of people. The paper will also consider the extent to which the critical human security is useful for understanding and explaining the complexity, contradictions and multidimensionality of urban transformation and the socio-political ecology of the city in the context of the global pandemic.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2023
EventSocial Policy Association Annual Conference - Nottingham, United Kingdom
Duration: 5 Jul 20237 Jul 2023


ConferenceSocial Policy Association Annual Conference
Country/TerritoryUnited Kingdom


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