Humans have always lived in an unequal world, be it the apartheid in South Africa or the Racism in The United States, or Caste discrimination in India. This discrimination now has changed its face. It is not based on colour caste, or creed, now, it is based on where you live. People have made gated settlements, and you need to be of the standard to enter these settlements. In all this, one settlement, ignored all the time, is people living in slums. They are not gated, nor big with all modern technologies. They are a symbol of the failure of our economic systems and a symbol of income inequality.
How did we end up with this, that one part of the population lives in big houses with only four people living in an 8-bedroom house and on the other hand a part of the population which lives in a single room with eight people in it? This injustice has been the case of many families for a long time now, and it has not changed. The buildings have kept added floors in them, but the slums have kept increasing with little or no sewage systems. No infrastructure, no electricity. They live in a place where even primary human rights are also a luxury.
Now the question arises, why do cities have slums?
After the era of industrialization, the growth in factory jobs surged, and a new form of population emerged. The ones that came from villages for new opportunities and to live the dream life they saw in Bollywood movies, and they started living near the factories due to which the ghettoization of these communities started, and it kept on growing like wildfire, and this gave rise to illegal housing, illegal electrification. After all, the government was not paying attention to them, because these were migrants. And they did not vote, and so they were not a vote bank.
In India, according to the 2011 Census, out of 4,041 statutory towns from them 2,543 Towns (63%), more than 50% of the city have slums in it, and the total no of slums is 1.08 Lakh which is classified into three types; Notified slums, recognized slums, and identified slums. In India, 137.49 lakh households are classified, as slums, and from these households, 38% are in cities with a 46 million-plus population. In the greater Mumbai region, 41.3% of the households are classified, as slums, and the highest percentage of slums are in Vishakhapatnam, with 44.1 % of the households classified as slums.
In 44.8 % of the slums do not have more than one room, and 25.1 % of the slum’s houses, have four members in their family. And 44.3% of the slums do not have closed drainage systems, and some do not even have a drainage system. In Mumbai, 52.5% of the population lives in slums and just 9 % of the whole geographical landmass of Mumbai. This result shows that though the slums are such a crucial aspect of the demographics, still, they are neglected in most things. According to a study by the National Child Labor Project District Society, Hyderabad, about 57% of the children had received education only up to the primary level. Over 9% of the children in the 5-17 years age group are not attending school. 48% of the parents said they did not send their children to school as they could not afford their education. This reason came out as a more important reason than the lack of interest in schooling.
Also, around 14% clearly said that the child was required to work to supplement the family income, and hence, could not be sent to school. This reason brings out that poverty is an important reason responsible for child labour. It also tells us that there is a vicious circle here firstly, government schools are not up to the mark, so parents try to get their kids into private schools there, due to high fees, students drop out after a time, so they do not have opportunities, and that is the reason why they have to work harder for basic wages and this gives rise to more child labour.
On again Off again Discrimination
One more crucial thing that hurts people living in slums is the always-on discrimination. They are not accepted, in schools, and if they are, the name-calling does not stop. They are discriminated, by people living in societies. In an interview with the residents of Dharavi by an Asian boss, the residents said,” we don’t tell where we come from. I used to write Sion in my official documents to avoid discrimination, and when we go to job interviews, we have always been looked down as soon as they read Dharavi in our resumes or CVs”.
This discrimination is keeping the people from slums where they are, and not giving them a chance to socially, uplift themselves, and is the reason, we see more and more growth in slums and the big, gated buildings adding more floors and being more gated.
Rehabilitation into Hell
The government did give apartments to people and tried rehabilitation programs. But these programs were useless because, in some places, they are becoming a death chamber for people e.g., the Mahul rehabilitation buildings. After the demolition of slums in Sion, the MHADA rehabilitates these people in Mahul near oil and chemical factories. The people who were living there started dying one after the other, due to the smoke from the oil refineries, and the chemical factories.
According to a report given to the BMC, 22 people died due to these factories and diseases related to them. It is turning into not rehabilitation heaven but a hellhole. Housing is for protecting individuals but houses next to chemical factories are like having a house, in hell. A resident from Mahul said,” we have an average income of 12000 and we have to spend 4000 on travelling and then manage other expenses in 6000 and then because of the governments blessing we also have to visit the doctors monthly which now feels like an EMI”.
Bigger Danger than Covid
In the covid-19 times, these localities and slums were at the most harm and risk but not because of covid-19 but because for them, Covid-19 was a danger but, more than that hunger was a greater tension the government did introduce schemes such as the Pradhan Mantri Jan Dhan Yojana, but it only gave Rs.500 to a family per month survival of a family of 4 with just Rs.500 is an impossible task that no one can complete. Due to the lockdowns, they did not have jobs, they were in their homes locked, and for them, it was not the pandemic that was killing them, but just the basic needs were.
What I feel is the government has kept neglecting the people from the slum areas. And any welfare scheme that came to these areas did not reach them, because of rampant corruption, and lack of political voice. These people are always backed into a corner and their social upliftment is only possible if they got an education, but due to costly education and discrimination, they do not even have a way around here, and that gives rise to more and more income and social inequality with health hazards and lack necessities always around the corner.
Now the question arises whose responsibility is housing? Is it the people’s responsibility who come to the cities for opportunities, or is it that of the government based on socialist principles? The government seems to have not shown any interest, in them and systematically pushed the slums aside in a hellhole like Mahul or just pure isolation and denial of primary rights and commodities.
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1 month, 2 weeks ago by surakshabajaj1462001
I loved it very strong and important to talk about!!
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