Journal Article

Advocacy Coalitions Influencing Informal Sector Policy: The Case of India’s National Urban Street Vending Policy

Published on 6 October 2009

In urban India, public policy concerning street vending often consists of local authorities’ licensing systems that regulate access to public space. As a rule, anyone wishing to sell goods or services on publicly owned land requires a license, but as these are generally parsimoniously issued, the great majority of street vendors are rendered illegal. The National Urban Street Vendors Policy (NSVP), announced in January 2004, embodied a major break from prevalent regulatory approaches. Hailed as a ‘paradigm shift’(NASVI 2004a), this first national policy for street vendors in India incorporated a more benevolent and accommodating perspective on vending. Moreover, the NSVP made part of a series of initiatives in the early 2000s illustrating the emergence of national arenas for informal sector policy making. This chapter uses an Advocacy Coalition Framework (ACF) approach to analyse the emergence of the NSVP. 1 It argues that a detailed analysis of the cognitive preferences and ideas of key policy actors can complement traditional interest-based explanations of policy change in India. Moreover, the case study demonstrates the significant presence and influence of advocacy coalitions in the Indian policy process. Accordingly, the NSVP is shown to be the outcome of a sustained and coordinated campaign of a group of civil society and state actors espousing a clear set of normative values.


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Dolf J.H. te Lintelo

Research Fellow and Cities Cluster Leader

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te Lintelo, D.


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