Kaun jae Zauq par Dilli ki galiyan chhor kar
(Who wishes to leave, Zauq, wandering the streets of Delhi)
— Sheikh Ibrahim ‘Zauq
Time spent wandering the streets of Delhi, drinking in the depths of everyday life; meeting with people, partaking in their memories and experiences; pouring over the work of the finest thinkers and maverick walkers of the world; reflecting on human existence, oppression, and emancipation has come to fruition in this work. Based on my doctoral thesis from the University of Delhi (2008–12), this book is a result of a process of great discovery and learning for me. The entire process is marked by moments of serendipity followed up with much digging, probing, and analysing. Though this process had its solitary moments, for the most part I was travelling with wonderful companions.
I was extremely fortunate in having Professor Manoj K. Jha as my doctoral supervisor. He is an inspiration for championing against ignorance, apathy, and prejudice. Every interaction with him is a lesson in being political and doing theory. I can never even begin to thank him (p.x) properly because I know I will never be able to thank him enough for his generosity and brilliance, both of which know no bounds. I thank my colleagues at Delhi School of Social Work (DSSW), University of Delhi, where I taught at the time of being engaged in my doctoral work. Special thanks to Pushpanjali for being a comrade in arms and for sharing true empathy. I particularly wish to acknowledge my students in the State, Political Economy and Governance course. They (without knowing it, perhaps) challenged me to see familiar concepts with a critical perspective, and escape the danger of oversight and oversimplification.
I would be setting myself up for an impossible task to thank all the participants of this study, but I would certainly be amiss if I did not mention Juned Khan and Ovais Sultan Khan, Shakeel Malik and Azeem Akhtar sahab for sharing their deep insights with me; for their faith in my efforts; for their willingness to indulge me with constant conversations, walks, and phone calls; and for introducing me to numerous other people. Thanks are also due to Humera Arzu for her support in accessing newspaper archives and transcribing interviews. Grateful thanks also to the OUP team who worked on this book, for their exceptional professionalism, their openness, and for making me keep to the schedule.
It was in the work of Professor N. Sridharan that I first encountered spatiality of marginalization. I thank him for drawing me to engage with students at the School of Planning and Architecture (SPA), Delhi, as Visiting Faculty. I thank my MA Regional Planning and Urban Planning students, who not only made teaching exciting by their critical and enthusiastic response, but also helped me learn so much about their discipline. Thanks are due to Shubham Mishra for sharing his insights about mapping and getting me all excited about GIS, and to Sheema Fatima for her incisive comments on spatiality of middle-class aspirations. Thank you all for demystifying Planning for me.
The discussions and feedback received in two conferences gave my work an additional edge. I thank the Sir Dorabji Tata Trust for giving me a travel grant to present a paper titled ‘Spatiality of (p.xi) Differential Belonging: Variable (but Durable) Marginalities among Muslims in Delhi’ based on preliminary findings of this research at the international conference organized by RC21—Research Committee for Urban and Regional Studies of the International Sociological Association at the University of Amsterdam in July 2011. I also thank Professor Manish K. Jha who invited me to present a paper at a symposium organized by him at the Tata Institute of Social Sciences in collaboration with Mahanirban Calcutta Research Group in November 2011. This paper was titled ‘Muslims in Delhi: The Normative Non-Citizens of the Global Urban’. Revised versions of these were published respectively, in the Economic and Political Weekly (EPW) titled ‘Capitalist Logic of Spatial Segregation: A Study of Muslims in Delhi’, and in the Working Paper Series of the Centre for the Study of Law and Governance (CSLG), JNU, as ‘Normative Non-citizens of the Global Urban: Muslims in Delhi’. Slightly reorganized, this material is included in the present book. I thank EPW and CSLG for permission to republish this material.
I cannot thank Pratiksha Baxi enough for her friendship and camaraderie. The thesis has been published as a book largely because of her support, and encouragement of other colleagues—Professor Niraja G. Jayal, Professor Amit Prakash, and Dr Chirashree Dasgupta—at Centre for the Study of Law and Governance, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi.
I am profusely grateful for the comments of the two reviewers. It is difficult for me to articulate what their feedback and endorsement means to me. Their suggestions were important in improving the manuscript. Of course, its failings are all mine.
I thank my elder brother Zafar Ullah—his intimate familiarity with the changing geography of Old Delhi and its recent history was a constant source of reference. My younger brother Faiz Ullah would go over each argument in the book with me as I wrote and revised it. Thank you for our chats (sometimes at unearthly hours). Biggest thanks are due to my sister-in-law Salma Begum, who took over the role of my mother and my daughter’s mother too. This book was possible only because of her rock solid support and love. (p.xii)
Many thanks are due to my friend of over two decades and my partner Nasir Jamal. The games he invented ostensibly to keep our daughter Miftah busy, and the resultant interruptions, kept it real for me.
Finally, I thank my parents Anwari Begum and Azmat Ullah. Even though they are no more, the attentive memory of their dreams for me egged me on.