The Union Minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation and Culture, Kumari Selja unveiling the plaque to inaugurate the National Resource Centre on Urban Poverty, Slums and Housing, in New Delhi on May 16, 2012. Poverty, it is said, is the greatest polluter. A resource center of this scale is bound to not just alleviate urban poverty but also help reduce urban pollution to a great extent.
Recently I revisited Oscar Lewis’ thesis of “Culture of Poverty.” Simply stated it tells you that context determines every thing. If you wear rose coloured glasses, everything appears red and if you wear blue coloured glasses every thing appears blue. There has always been a struggle between those who came to a city and live in slums and those who live in flats. Alternate perception of the slums is a material deprivation. Economist define slums as places where the expense per capita is low. Right now I am staying in a small room of an empty flat. It has nothing. No tables, no chairs, no cupboards, no shelves, no nothing. There is one folding bed to sleep on, one air conditioner to bear the heat. And few very functional electrical appliances like a fridge, washing machine, TV and a g
Without inclusive growth, that includes the poor, the rich cannot survive in a city. Thank you for appreciating the development and environment combination of the blog. Your time is precious and I appreciate you making it available to comment on the Blog. There is a dominant tendency on our part to think that poor living in the cities are a homogenous lot with same problems and therefore need uniform solution in the form of anti poverty programmes. JNURM (Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission) is an example of inclusive growth for the poor in the cities. Although in all honesty, while it does make efforts toward targeting heritage cities and look for unique needs of different cities, it does not take into account the needs of different slum settlements within a city. My own experien...
The Taj Mahal: A resource curse in the 'heart' of India? Mention or lack of mention of just one word makes a difference. Thank you for appreciating the film review with ‘Beautiful.’ I had the privilege of being present in an awesome event in Agra. Empirical facts indicated that of the 378 settlements that can be classified as slums, one slum settlement with about 400 households was successful in having 94 twin pit latrine with pour flush in the city. It took the community and the NGO working with them together over three year to achieve this. So the question is, whether it is worth the time, money and efforts that went into this project? The short answer: the context that this community comes from is what is makes the effort totally worth it. The long answer requires a brief
Let's stand up on World Habitat Day and let it be known that affordable, adequate housing should be a priority everywhere—in our communities, in our towns, in our country, in our world. The United Nations has designated the first Monday of each October as World Habitat Day. This year, Habitat for Humanity in USA has invited the international community from around the world in support of this global observance and come together to declare that the lack of decent, affordable housing is unacceptable. According to the United Nations, more than 100 million people in the world today are homeless. Millions more face a severe housing problem living without adequate sanitation, with irregular or no electricity supply and without adequate security. Raising awareness and advocating for change
A trip to the Ranthambore Wildlife Sanctuary got me thinking. I realized that the jungle supports livelihoods of the tribal people who have essentially been hunters and gatherers by profession. They do not own the forests or even part of it, they only access it and use it to meet their every day needs of survival. They go in the forests to collect food, fodder ,fuel and small timber. Just the way it is, without altering the habitat or without disrupting the resource base. They visit different places, trees, wines, shrubs in different seasons to collect berries-nuts-fruits-flowers-leaves and other products like honey or tree bark and roots. All that requires an intimate knowledge of the forest. These resources are not ‘free’ - as it needs efforts and knowledge to get them, without
Something about beauty, which is perfection, always touches, moves and inspires people. Judging by the responses to the blog I seem to have done that. I truly appreciate you all, who make that extra effort to share with me how you feel. That is my inspiration to write every week. Thank you. Continuing on the theme of beauty and perfection, in one of my recent works I realized that slums in mega cities--considered as blotch on the city landscape--are located in ecologically sensitive areas, sea coasts river floodplain, along ponds, forests etc. In Delhi too, they are located, to the best of my knowledge, in ecologically sensitive areas. These slums tend to be in river basins like Yamuna and Ganga, or hill slopes and foot hills of the ‘Ridge’ with minor forest lands etc. These ecol
Your responses are what keeps this blog going, thank you for sharing. Continuing on the governance issues for urban slums in Delhi on how to justify providing water sanitation etc to the existing Jhuggi Jhompdi (JJ) slums? As you all have rightly pointed out the quality of life for a middle class in the city like Delhi is subsidized by people living in slums. They are ready to accept an inferior quality of life so that the middle class could have their service providing community, at a subsidized price. Another argument is that JJ slum dwellers are not ‘paying’ any property tax or other municipal taxes. Let us look at this argument. Yes, but they are consumers and as such pay excise duty and sales tax on all the items they purchase and hence contribute to the economy directly.
The urban governance projects initiated in the infrastructure sectors in Indian cities like Delhi and Mumbai, over the past ten years are all based on the assumption that slum dwellers have basic unalienable human rights to clean drinking water, sanitation and environmental hygiene, especially in the slum community of the city. These rights are so basic and fundamental that, the elected representative and the government as right protector, is obligated to provide them. While the investment for capital assets like toilet blocks or stand posts and drainage lines are paid for by donor funding in Delhi NCR region over the decade. There is pressure on the city governments to meet the Operation and Maintenance (O and M) costs, of electricity used for pumping if any and minor repairs of ta...