Co-Producing Knowledge in Action: Reflecting from the Main Bhi Dilli Campaign for Equitable Planning in Delhi

Rashee Mehra, Ruchika Lall, Malavika Narayan   | 2023


There is a need to recognize plural knowledge and lived experiences for equitable urban planning. Much has been written about the potential of coproduction of services and knowledge in recent literature. How does this coproduction of knowledge take shape at the scale of the city and what is the role of academic actors here? Positioning academia within a constellation of urban actors, this paper reflects on the process of coproduction within a campaign for equitable urban planning in Delhi – Main Bhi Dilli (I too, am Delhi) Campaign. The campaign brings together urban actors with diverse positionalities, differing theories of change across academic actors, social movements, and civil society actors, across sectors and lived experiences in the city. This paper draws from the archival material of the campaign produced through prolonged dialogue and practice-based research. It focusses on one particular knowledge product that the campaign has produced called the Factsheets. Factsheets are 4-page documents that simply provide an overview of the theme (informal -livelihood, housing, gender, etc.) and what the Master Plan can do to address the gaps in planning that exist. The paper uses the ‘factsheets’ as an artefact of coproduction, as a site that holds the processes of coproduction together. It argues that while the factsheet itself is one of several outcomes of the campaign, it is the processes of holding, contesting and channeling multiple positionalities towards a common aim and vocabulary that is technical, timely and strategic, that are of real value. While the exact format and material may not be translatable in contexts with different social and political realities, we argue that the principles of accessibility, legibility, holding diverse streams of knowledge and contestations and synthesizing them in a propositional mode while in a diverse coalition are useful across contexts.