Street Vendors vs. World Imaginaries: Everyday Contestations of Bodh Gaya, India

Author – Ritika Rajput


Street vending is an integral part of the urban economy in India and other Global South regions. This article focuses on the challenges street vendors face in Bodh Gaya, Bihar, after its UNESCO World Heritage site designation in 2002. Examining the period from 2002 to 2023, including significant events like the heritage status, the Mahabodhi temple bomb blast in 2013, and the implementation of the Street Vendor Act in 2014, it explores how these events shaped street vending in the town.

Despite Bodh Gaya’s aspirations to be ‘world-class,’ street vendors endure precarious livelihoods and the impact of beautification efforts by local authorities and international pressures. The article contends that securing street vendors’ livelihoods necessitates proactive protections against evictions and bullying.

 Keywords: Street vendors, World-Class city, Buddhism, World Heritage Site, Bodh Gaya

Author’s Bio: Ritika Rajput is a doctoral student at the United Nations University, Tokyo. She was previously engaged with the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, Government of India as a Smart Cities fellow (2021-2022) and an Urban Fellow (2020-2021) with the Indian Institute for Human Settlements. She did her masters in Ecology and Environment Studies from Nalanda University, Bihar. Her research interests are sustainability, urbanisation, urban water, and climate change.