Bombay slums: Dark, dingy and full of hope

Published: May 4, 2012

I was treading carefully on a mixture of stinking animal and human refuse, wet mud and miscellaneous junk that I dare not think about. PHOTO: RAKSHA KUMAR.

Bombay (now known as Mumbai) enamours me like it has many people. While the plane lands over the city, you see a seamless mix of shanties and high rises.

It is not so inconspicuous on the ground.

Riding a local train from Santa Cruz to Malad East, I gazed at the best and the worst of living conditions of the people of Bombay. I was in the city to report on the raising real estate prices in the city’s slums. As I reached my destination in Dharavi, one of the largest slums in Asia, there was a strange sensation in my stomach because I was treading carefully on a mixture of stinking animal and human refuse, wet mud and miscellaneous junk that I dare not think about.

After a few minutes, I reached the home of Rashid, the auto driver.

His family is large with four children, when asked about them, he smiled and said,

We need people’s shoulders to cry on when we are in distress, you see.

Rashid lives in a 10ft-12ft room that doubles as a kitchen and a tiny portion in the corner is marked off as wash area.

In order to reach the bathroom, Rashid and his family trek down at least five minutes outside their house to a dingy public toilet in the far corner of their small, crowded neighbourhood. The toilet, Rashid tells me has not had water for the past two days and in any case, there is no certainty that one would get to use it when one wants.

Almost embarrassed, he utters,

We have to wade through the queue.

The six members of the family share a coir mat and sleep on the hard cement floor. Khalida, Rashid’s wife, recycles her limited utensils to cook and feed her family.

The house is regularly flooded in the rainy season. And when this does happen, the family first saves the children’s books and only then moves to protect other items in the house.

Sitting on an inverted tin box, the only seating arrangement in the house, and sipping tea that was specially made for me, I could only think about how distant the privileged classes are to the realities of families such as Rashid’s. Unless one ventures out and forces oneself to be a bystander in the lives of those like Rashid, this sort of poverty will remain an exotic fantasy in the minds of those with cosy apartments.

Considering slums and substandard living conditions make up large parts of the cities of India, understanding them becomes the first step in trying to alter the situation. The common reaction of the privileged class is to cringe and shudder at the very thought of passing by a shanty town in a car. This, or they just resort to simply complaining at the very existence of this sort of housing.

Spending some time as spectators, will also bridge the palpable mental gap between the more privileged and the less privileged.

In a country like India, the more we understand the underbelly of our cities the better we can perform as a cohesive urban unit. Currently, the distance between the two urban worlds of comfort and distress seem unbridgeable. But, the future can certainly be different if we desire.

After having a small chat with Rashid’s family while I was walking away from their house, I felt a small tug on my sleeve.

Turning around, I saw 11-year-old Salma, Rashid’s daughter, smiling at me.

And in impeccable English she confidently asks me,

Could you please give me your number?

“Yeah… Sure!” I fumbled and handed my card.

“I will call you for advice on what college I should go to in a few years,” she said.

“You should,” I replied, “I would be happy to tell you all I know.”

I left with a huge smile on my face.

Follow Raksha on Twitter @Raksha_Kumar

Raksha Kumar

Raksha Kumar

The author is a Bangalore based video journalist freelancing for the New York Times and the BBC. She graduated from the Graduate School of Journalism, Columbia University in May 2011 where she majored in TV news. She is a Fulbright Scholar and has worked in various media outlets in India. She tweets @Raksha_Kumar.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Ali Tanoli

    Those Billioners and 100 billions on defence for what just to show the world how Macho we are shame on think tanks of india who cant see these things.Recommend

  • BlackJack

    Hyping Bombay slums is probably no longer possible after the release of Slumdog Millionaire, but a lot of people still choose to focus heavily on them, often to pander to vested interests; it is also a favorite with many Pakistanis on ET whose main joy in life is decrying the unsatisfied requirement for sanitation facilities in India. However, I don’t think this article is one of them; it presents a depressingly accurate snapshot of what life is probably like in Dharavi and other Bombay slums and ends with the promise of hope that genuinely draws a smile. There are multiple high-value projects proposed to redevelop the slums and provide a more healthy alternative to our people, which are held up due to bureaucracy and fragmented political interests. I hope we are able to make some headway in the next couple of years.Recommend

  • Arijit Sharma

    @Ali Tanoli: ” … Those Billioners and 100 billions on defence for what just to show the world how Macho we are shame on think tanks of india who cant see these things. … ”

    That is Siachen logic again. India must do something because Pakistan is wasting resources ? Recommend

  • Critical

    @Ali Tanoli:
    Bhai…I hope this blog helps you sleep better tonight…and I hope u will,considering the comments history of yours

    I dont deny the fact that slums exists in India…Every city has a slum having the poorest of people…

    But that doesnt mean we have to stop spending on military when the western neighbors have attacked us 3 times and release mujahideens regularly and the northern neighbors have occupied one third of Kashmir and are now staking claims on Arunachal Pradesh….

    Also,Look at your back before commenting on others…Recommend

  • Senman

    @Ali Tanoli

    Nope the money spend on defense is to protect us from the non-state actors who are waiting to back-stab us while we are helping our poor. Now that we have spent the money on defense we will help our poor more effectively. Shame on the country which mass produces non-state actorsRecommend

  • Junaid

    Its depressing to see how much poverty we have in sub-continent. Both have a long way to go before we are anywhere near developed yet we spend endlessly on defense. Misplaced responsibilities.Recommend

  • manish

    @Ali Tanoli:

    maybe indian govt is not as intelligent as this fellow rashid is.
    i have seen worse conditions in slums.
    however, it is because in rainy season that they first save the children’s book that the girl is speaking english. they are in a slum and are suffering hard, but a few years down the line his devotion towards his childrens education will really bear the fruits.
    contrast this with your country where talibans are bombing girls school.
    can you say the same about families living in slums in your country? do they also take care of their children’s education in the same manner?Recommend

  • Yash

    @Ali Tanoli:

    lol….u havent read the redevelopment plan of dharavi…have u??Recommend

  • mr. righty rightist

    I am not from Mumbai and I rarely visit it.

    I went to Mumbai a few weeks back and the area where my work was, was located next to the Ambanis’ titanic house.

    What a waste! What a waste!

    This country of the Mahatma has been taken over by the billionaire hoodlums. These elite, billionaire, millionair hoodlums of this country don’t brandish a baton or an a.k 47.

    They use economic terrorism on the poor and lower middle class of this country.

    “When the rich overindulge, poor suffer” – Mr. Righty Rightist.

    We need modesty in this country. We Indians are one of the most immodest and bigoted population on earth. When we came across Pakistanis/Bangladeshis, we show off our nukes. When we came across whites, we act like slaves. When we came across the blacks, we slither away like a scared snake. And when we come across the chinese, we shut up!

    Scrap all the IPLs, Billion dollar defense deals, billion dollar houses, misleading and vulgar bollywood. We need to look at ourselves in a way, we never attempted before.

    You all can start that by reading “everybody loves a good drought” by P Sainath.Recommend

  • Mumbai Salsa

    @Ali Tanoli: What you said doubles up for Pakistan.Recommend

  • Asad

    Would be interesting to see the religious make-up of the population living in these slums.Recommend

  • Sanjay Bettadpura

    I appreciate your effort to bring to the fore the conditions of the Indian urban underbelly – however, I do not agree with your sweeping statement that the privileged class cringe/ shudder/ complain when the have to go through such places. I have lived in Mumbai and I have visited slums in Thane and Chembur where my house maid and office attendant stay respectively. I have been there along with several of my colleagues for Ganesha festival as well as for Janmashtami – and I have been pleasantly surprised by the number of privileged people who go there and bond with the residents. In many locations there is no choice but to traverse through such localities and some of them a famous for their tea shops, vada-pav outlets and kabab joints which are frequently visited by the privileged class. I guess most of us who do cringe, shudder or complain is because many simple things that can be done by the residents and the government to alleviate some of the problems never gets done..

    These slums are house tax free, utility charge free (most houses get power supply illegally) and even when the residents have been provided with better housing under slum rehabilitation schemes, they give those houses for rent (illegally) and get back to the slums..

    The future as Rashid in your article has mentioned can definitely better if we desire — we being – the residents (mostly), the government next and finally the privileged class. Recommend

  • sars

    Both countries would do well to start thinking about what the common man needs and how he can improve his current situation , instead of pandering to the top 2% which obviously has its own agenda. Im glad the young girl from the slum has prioritized getting a good education and wish i could see more of that in pakistan.Recommend

  • Indi-Pop

    Slum tourism is a major source of business. I have personally assisted on many slum redevelopment projects in Mumbai. The slum dwellers through a contract based on mutual benefit entire into contracts with private developers who make huge apartments on the slum land and in return one apartment is assigned to family of every slum dweller and rest our sold at open market for benefit of the developers. But corruption as seeped in the system as in everywhere else. Slum dwellers once they are assigned a new apartment,put that apartment on rent and move into a new slum. Many of them have multiple homes on rent. Slum dwellers enjoy a lot of concessions and benefits from the government. It is a poverty tourism center for all westerners. Lots of money comes in through NGO’s and foreign aid workers. Don’t take slum dwellers lightly. They scam private dwellers regularly by playing the poverty card, they enter into multiple contracts, take the money then form unions and refuse to honor them. I am not trying to demonize them here but please don’t take them to be village idiots. Mumbai city is not for the faint hearted. All who survive here know the tricks to the trade and the art of survival.Recommend

  • T

    So much for the Indians who are always boasting about their country and pinpointing problems in Pakistan. Shame on you. India is no better than Pakistan.Recommend

  • LOL

    @Yash:
    none of us has..fortunately or unfortunately, we are not that much interested in Indian news as you Indians are in Pakistani news. Neither do we have the time to spam your websites with our presence all the time.Recommend

  • Mumbai Salsa

    @mr. righty rightist: yet another Ambedkar follower who would want the riches to give away their riches for free while you lazy have nots will not make any effort to earn it. Why don’t you struggle to be one like Ambani. Remember if Ambani can be from rag to riches …so can you. But You choose to just crib about not having the money Ambani has. Recommend

  • Mumbai Salsa

    @T: Your statement is laughable. Let me give you reasons why it is preposterous to compare Pakistan with India. Unlike Pakistan, India is not an isolated country. Unlike Pakistan, India has burgeoning economy. Unlike Pakistan, India is way ahead in science and technology and has it’s own space agency which is used by foreign countries too to launch their satellite. Unlike Pakistan, India has always enjoyed democracy. Unlike Pakistan, India does not have dozen terrorist groups as strategic assets. Unlike Pakistanis, Indians do not die every week by some random act of terrorism. Unlike Pakistan, there is true diversity in India. Unlike Pakistan, India did not loose any land because the citizens of the land fought for their freedom. …………….. I can go on, but I hope this is sufficient for you and your likes to understand why India is far far far better than Pakistan. Please compare yourself with somalia next time. In few years somalia is going to do better then you. Recommend

  • T

    Say all you want but India is also a poor country. Face it or deny it with your laughs. Facts wont change. Better try and improve your own country rather than wasting time on Pakistani websites..Recommend

  • Ahmad

    @Mumbai Salsa:
    Grow up man. you yourself know that half of the things you are saying are not even true about India. Stop living in a fictitious world. Democracy..lol…yes its evident from your movies how democratic India a country is…and how diverse it is..refer to Rajneeti, rang de basanti, etc…in every movie you give muslim names to criminals..thats how diverse it is. India did not lose land because it forcefully grabs the land that belongs to its neighbor. or conspires to split it. that is why. Now next time start going to somalian news websites and bless us with your absence from here. Thank you.Recommend

  • seeker

    @Mumbai Salsa:
    Does not matter, we ruled you a hundred years and we will do it again, just have to unveil some hidden and open enemies around us Recommend

  • ayesha_khan

    @Asad: “Would be interesting to see the religious make-up of the population living in these slums.”

    Why? I acknowledge that poverty is a curse and there are plenty of poor in India.But instead of trying to find ways to address the problem you want to make this into a communal issue? Stop viewing all problems through a religious lens. Recommend

  • ayesha_khan

    @T: “Shame on you. India is no better than Pakistan.”

    Does India have problems? Yes. This whole subcontinent has problems of poverty, sanitation, education, health. The question is what direction are things going. This family with its commitment and dedication to education will not remain poor. This Muslim girl living in slum speaks flawless English and expects to go to college. HEr school has not been bombed by Taliban. Female literacy in India is 65% and in Pakistan it is 36%. Therein lies the difference.Recommend

  • ayesha_khan

    @T: ” Shame on you. India is no better than Pakistan.”

    Karachi and Mumbai were comparable at time of independence with Karachi somewhat more prosperous. Both are port cities and hub of trade and commerce and the largest megapolis of their respective country. In Lyari which is a suburb of Karachi, 2000 police have not been able to establish their writ after 7 days of operation. This is just one suburb and one ethnicity’s gang. There are at least 2 more equally powerful if not more powerful gangs that are an open secret. People are firing rocket launchers at the police. I was born and brought up in Mumbai. I honestly do not remember seeing a gun with any civilian. Even police would only have pistols not automatic weapons and rifles.

    Poverty IS a problem that India and Pakistan share. No denying that. But there is a lot of difference in safety, education and health access of the poor in India compared to the poor in Pakistan.Recommend

  • narayana murthy

    @Indi-Pop who writes “Slum tourism is a major source of business.”

    It’s kind of funny. We Indians refer to certain parts of our cities as slums.

    You ask a westerner and he will tell you that the entire India is one big slum.Recommend

  • Murugan

    I am born and brought up in Dharavi and still my family members are living in Dharavi, and I don’t understand when i read things like “there was a strange sensation in my stomach because I was treading carefully on a mixture of stinking animal and human refuse, wet mud and miscellaneous junk that I dare not think about.” – before writing article this people must have never toured Dharavi, they see it form out side or read some old half cooked articles and based on that they writer their own…In amenities Dharavi is no different from the slums of any other major cites, it too faces the proplem of large number of people living in a cramped place, but it’s not the world things about Dharavi, the locality i stay (Kamaraj Nagar, Sion – Bandra link Rd, Dharavi) and many more are more neat and clean and each house will cost you $ 50,000 to $ 60,000 and that too for 300 to 400 Sq.Ft house and yet the people are able to afford to live in such houses, almost 70% of the Dharavi population will be above poverty line who can afford a good living – but then why only the 30% is always reported by the media??…
    Also very few must be aware that each year Dharavi produce a billion dollar worth of goods from leather, textile, food and other products and almost 60% to 70% of the Dharavi kids reach up to the college level education and the real estate value of Dharavi is worth billions of dollars…Recommend

  • Murugan

    If any one wants to see the true colour of Dharavi please watch the below facebook link where my friends from another locality called Rajab Ali Compund have added their community photos, this locality is mixture of Hindus, Christians and Muslims (most of them are south Indians)…

    Below link they have the photos of their chawl Committee election!!! (even in Indian slums democracy is practiced to elect their chawl Committee)
    http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.204929546189644.63960.195297633819502&type=3

    Indian Republic Day Celebrations & Prize Distribution Ceremony
    http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.195829733766292.59573.195297633819502&type=3

    Sports Day for Rajab Ali Compund kids(23-01-2011)
    http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.195822640433668.59566.195297633819502&type=3

    World Cup Cricket watched by us in big screen!!!
    http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.214270741922191.68327.195297633819502&type=3

    After the recent election the new chawl committee have decided to form a co-operative society and demolish the existing houses and construct housing building with the help of government fund and below pictures are from the foundation laying ceremony and we call it Bhumi Puja (head of the chawl committee is congress leader so you may see the congress flag all over the function, but many people are from other political parties also)
    http://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.212687075413891.67649.195297633819502&type=3Recommend

  • Dee Cee

    @Fellow Indians feeling uncomfortable with Dharavi: Poverty in India is a reality and a HUGE reality. There are sections of Dharavi that are comfortable, but abject poverty does exist there (I often travel through the place). Yes, there could be some slumlords there with Merc and Audis, but majority of the people go to shared toilets and live next to open drains. THAT is a reality! Howsoever bad Pakistan or Somalia is, our realities won’t change, so there is no point is denying or soft-pedaling that. We must accept our failures and work towards improvement. Otherwise, we will be like a family that locks up the bad-looking kid when guests arrive, and shows only the good-looking one. Dharavi is family, and we have to accept that.Recommend

  • Asad

    @BlackJack: ‘ many Pakistanis on ET whose main joy in life is decrying the unsatisfied requirement for sanitation facilities in India’ says an indian whose obsession with pakistan drives him to continuously browse a pakistani news site and comments incessantly about its inadequacies.Recommend

  • ukmuslim

    people from all over india (mostly poor) come to bombay to secure their future. as they can’t afford to buy a decent accomodation they start dwelling in slums or roadside (most cheapest), even if it is illegal. no property tax; electricity tephone, ration card can be managed. after few years politicians (vote bank) promise them to build a permanent and legal accomodation, all free. problem solved, a poor person who can’t afford to buy a decent flat now owns a legal flat in one of the costliest city in the world.

    its all business and trick.

    the homes that are costing today $60-100 K, were once (25 years ago) small sheds or huts. shivsena and congress in their tenure legalised these slums.Recommend

  • BlackJack

    @Asad:
    Dude – read my post. I have always acknowledged our deficiencies and would never try to use Pakistan’s sorry state as an excuse to ignore our shortcomings. All that I ridicule is your ability to do the same.Recommend

  • T

    @ayesha_khan:
    yes poverty IS a problem in India also…and Delhi is probably the dirtiest city in the world where one can’t walk without clipping their nose…and India is as “democratic” a country as Pakistan is (only in papers)…and whenever there is a terrorist act in India it blames it on Pakistan without bringing the accused in front of the media..though India itself is involved in several terrorist acts in Pakistan..and I can carry on for hours…but we accept our reality and problems and that is what we are also saying…you should accept it too…stop worrying so much about Pakistan’s problems and stop comparing us to yourselves…we never compare ourselves to India because its no better than us…so please you Indians should also concentrate on the development of your own country..rather than wasting your time on hateful comments on ET 24/7.Recommend

  • Murugan

    @Dee Cee: there is no need to get uncomfortable with Dharavi, because we are not what you think… I am not saying all are rich and having comfortable living in Dharavi – but strongly disagree with you that “but majority of the people go to shared toilets and live next to open drains.”…I am from Dharavi and saying this that 70% of the Dharavi population are above poverty line and their average monthly income will be more then $600 per month and also most of them are living in a house worth around $25,000 to $60,000 and some of the houses are even higher then $150,000 such us in Vaibhav Co-Operative society, Dharavi Main Road, or in the buildings in Dharavi Cross road…
    You are too negative mate, we in Dharavi no need of your help we know how to look after our self, and I strongly believe because of the last two decades overall India’s growth we in Dharavi today are able to have a better life compared to my parents…Recommend

  • BlackJack

    @Murugan:
    You are getting the wrong picture – the issue is not whether Dharavi is prosperous or not, but whether slums of this nature exist (and they do in plenty). Let’s not get caught up in a pointless discussion on which part of Bombay or India they actually are in.

    Note – In my earlier comment to @Asad – pls read *ability as inability, apologies for the typoRecommend

  • ALI

    700 million people live below wage of $2 a month and these indians here present a picture as everything is rosy in india. height of bigotry Recommend

  • Jai

    He’s had four children living in a slum and playing the victim needing someone’s shoulder to cry on. Rashid should’ve had a vasectomy years ago. Don’t bring people into this world if you are not able to feed them. You think it’s easy for those who live in apartments? They give away 30% of their hard earned money in taxes in a growingly expensive economy to socialize healthcare, food rations and education for people like Rashid who got nothing to do besides reproduce. On top of that we do charity too. But it’s never enough and never will be enough. The govt. is providing free vasectomy. People like Rashid should avail the service. Bleeding heart socialists always like to take from the successful and give to the unsuccessful to make everyone equally poor. That is no solution. These people need to be taught how to get out of the cycle of poverty and stop reproducing so many children. It’s one thing to be charitable but it’s completely another to be taken for a ride and expected to keep feeding those who will do nothing to improve their own situation. why should anyone else take more interest in improving their lives than they do themselves? Give someone a fish and they eat for a day, teach them to fish and they’ll eat for life. These are the bare facts. Call me politically incorrect monster or whatever. I do more to help the poor than people like Rashid ever did.Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli

    Karachi dont have that type of slums like exist in Mumbai but we do have poverty and do have unplanned towns and where used to be garbage and sanitation problems were but we comes out of that and big credit goes to Mustafa Kamal sahab ex mayor of karachi and every home has elect, gas, water even though water is big problem in karachi its some every
    fifteen day. best of luck for both india and pakistan …Recommend

  • Ali Tanoli

    One of my indian colleaque said that girl speak english and we are distroying girls schools in pakistan so i will tell u sir that when some thing get distroyed peoples realized and make marshel plans to build new and better ones and i am sure in the future when every thing will got better there will be new and better schools building the before and even there is talk for
    make a province of Fata this is gonna be wonderfull thing for area peoples to get mingle in the country system so dont worry we will get out of this because we dont have rigit caste system and we know how to get our rights if not then we know how to fight and get it.Recommend

  • Asad

    Funny to see indians getting so defensive about a long overlooked soft underbelly of ‘shining india’Recommend

  • manish

    @Ali Tanoli:
    thank you for appreciating my comment. but what you are missing is that the current years are the most crucial years too. population is exploding, expectations are soaring, and if resources are not allocated in proportion to requirement then, you will lay complete waste of a very promising generation: the same generation which is working wonders in other countries. frustration will rise so acutely that you will only find it increasingly difficult to manage even the bare necessities.
    however, i wish pakistan all the lucks Recommend

  • Murugan

    @Ali Tanoli: Mr Ali I have not seen Karachi so I can’t comment on the state of your city, but as far as slums in Dharavi goes I know it very well, we have 24 hour electricity, gas, and 3 to 5 hours of continues water supply daily and in my 25 years of life hardly i have seen power or water cut in Dharavi, more over we are living in a city where there is plenty of opportunity – if a person is hardworking the city gives him every opportunity come out of his misery…best example is my family, my father came to Mumbai in the 70′s with few cloths as possession, but with sheer hard work he gave his six children good education and the fortune smiled at us when India liberalised it’s economy and first stroke of luck came in the form of Y2K, my brother a graduate and with knowledge of Cobal got opportunity to work in USA and later he was an inspiration not only form my family but for your entire locality and he inspired many kids to join engineering and now many are working in IT and other fields in Mumbai and doing good…Many hear say 70% of Indians don’t have food and so, but I request them to come and visit India once and see the real India, yes we have poverty at huge level but tell me which country is not having and more over no one is having magic wand to wipe the poverty over night – it will take time to eradicate poverty and India is in correct path in doing so…there is always hope if some one is hard working and strive to improve his life in India, how many of us aware that a charity program called Akshaya Patra providing 1.3 million healthy meals daily to poor school going kids in India, please watch the below video and don’t think India is not looking after it’s poor…
    India’s Free Lunch!!!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=f227UYDJ7EURecommend

  • Ali Tanoli

    @Manish,
    To look like Malaysia or singapur u need some good leader and nice policies with in twenty years one country can achieved there goal its not a rocket science u cant succeeded.Recommend

  • Syed

    Funny how all the Indians are trying to potray that Pakistan is in even deeper waters instead of commenting on the blog itself. You might be developing but you have to accept your shortcomings as well.
    Cheers.Recommend

  • India2US

    Murugan

    Those pictures and videos brought tears to my eyes. My story is similar to to your brother’s story. Incredible changes in my life and in my many friends lives. It is only going to get better. Outsiders don’t see what we see. There are so many people working hard and honesty at local levels in India helping others. That is why I love this country. It gives a chance if you want to take it sincerely. I am from a backward caste from Gaya.Bihar so there is no stopping of India now even though great poverty is still there.Recommend

  • ayesha_khan

    @BlackJack: I isually tend to agree with your viewpoint. I differ from you on your post to Murugan. His post is a perfect example to reinforce the subject of the blog. That the slums maybe dark and dingy to the person viewing them from outside but inside people have hope and believe that their future will be better than their past if they put in the effort.

    Murugan lives in Dharavi which is Asia’s largest slum and instead of feeling bitter or entitled, he has confidence that he can have a better life by the dint of his hard work. Not sure why you are putting him down.

    Good for you Murugan, I hope you and people around you achieve your dreams by the dint of your talent and hard work.Recommend

  • Noman Ali

    I had a chance to Visit Delhi earlier this year as part of a trade delegation and must admit that i was very much impressed with the city of Delhi . It has gone truly International( probably the only one in South asia) and you can feel it as you land on their very impressive airport comparable to Heathrow/Changi.

    The city has made immense strides in their public transport with a flawless underground ( sad to say but we dont have anything like that in pakistan). Air is much cleaner than lahore/karachi, Roads impeccable.

    There were pockets of shanties which were visible here and there. but i was told plans are on way to redevelop them. The suburbs of Delhi ( Gurgaon) are collage of glitzy malls, multinational corporate towers and some shanties spread here and there which are a bit of an eye sore for an otherwise an extremely fancy suburb.

    Most pakistanis in the delegation had a smilar opinion.

    Could not visit Mumbai and hence cant speak of the slums there.Recommend

  • manish

    @Ali Tanoli:

    BRO, if you dwell on the problem of managing human beings, you will find it more difficult than rocket science. there are variables in rocket science. you can put n upper limit on the extent of failure. also a failure in rocket science is a stepping stone to a bright future. a failure in social management surely pushes you back by atleast a generation. Recommend

  • Murugan

    @Syed: Nobody is portraying your country in bad light to show India is doing better, but when we see things said by Pakistanis such as 70% of Indians can’t afford a meal a day and so on – I feel it’s necessary to inform you that we are not what you assume, developments won’t happen overnight and also to lift huge section of people out of poverty you need a basic setup and in India we have that setup now and we are doing it over the past two decades – India have lifted almost 400 million people out of poverty and made them middle class (income) families which is greater then the population of America and twice the size of Pakistan population, my self an example I am from the so called lower section of society and after my education I got direct campus job placement in one of India’s top company and now deputed in Gulf on a project implementation…

    Please watch the below videos and see yourself that not everything is bad in India, and we in India are having great hope for our future…

    Top American graduates heading to India for employment!!!
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NPDHfqpEVD4

    A Big Heart – India
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xsPic6PRCf4&feature=share

    ‘Production line’ heart surgery!!!
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-10837726Recommend

  • JB

    @Asad:

    Funny to see indians getting so defensive about a long overlooked soft underbelly of ‘shining india’

    brother- at least indians along with a “soft underbelly” have a “shining belly”
    Do we have anything to boast about?

    The only thing comes to my mind are our extremely talented singers with songs like ” bum bum phata”

    Good dayRecommend

  • BlackJack

    @ayesha_khan:
    I don’t disagree with your argument, although there are some differences on facts. Dharavi was Asia’s largest slum when we were kids, now it is not even the largest in Bombay. Dharavi has become a commercial hub with a number of small business units (leather etc) set up there, and they do not want to move out because of the low rental, free power etc – which makes the system difficult to dismantle; however, this has also increased employment among slum dwellers (and reduced crime) – education levels are also high (Wikipedia says that literacy rate is 69% which is almost comparable with the national average). Dharavi also has the largest number of proposed re-development projects, and may not look the same in a couple of years. So to summarize – (1) Dharavi no longer represents the quintessential slum, which is in line with Murugan’s argument (2) Slums exist, with conditions similar to those described in the article – and we have been dithering on making changes due to narrow parochial interests. All I wanted was that (1) does not dominate the discussion to the extent that (2) is no longer visible. But your point is well taken – even slums are in a state of flux, and what has happened in Dharavi could well take place in other slums as well.Recommend

  • Dee Cee

    @Murugan: I appreciate the positivity in you and please be assured that I am not looking down upon anybody. I reported what I see every time I go through Dharavi. Yes, there is a huge economic buzz, and things have gotten better than in past. I am only saying that things definitely need to get better, and there definitely are poor people. As for the property rates, $1,50,000 means 75 Lakhs, meaning apprx 550 Sq. Ft. at the rate of 13.5K per Sq. Ft. or even less area because property rates at Sion or BKC are through the roof. I hope people have better living conditions, and don’t live with tanneries and open drains, and have larger space to live in. Also, I appreciate the effort you and your society have put in for a better future. Power to you, and to everybody trying to make our country better. :)Recommend

  • http://www.netmagellan.com/ Ash Nallawalla

    There was a multi-part UK documentary about 2-3 years ago taken in Dharavi and Kumbhartukda. It showed both the solid buildings that are on a par with the legal tenements elsewhere and the tin shanties of the newly-arrived. http://www.channel4.com/programmes/kevin-mccloud-slumming-it/4od

    I have walked through the Mahim slums in 1981 and had tea in one home, which was as clean as humanly possible. The religion of the occupants depends on the suburb of the slums. Mahim appeared to be mostly Muslim; Dharavi seems to be mixed – it is more a matter of being largely south Indian arrivals; Kumbhartukda is mostly Gujarati speaking – Hindu and Muslim. The eye-openers in these slums is that they are huge manufacturing centres because they have lower overheads than the “legal” factories. They recycle stuff that others would not. It would be wrong to think of them as desolate ghettoes.Recommend

  • Deb

    There is more to Bombay (don’t like the name change) than Dharavi.
    Even Dharavi is not about poverty.The real story of Dharavi is it’s indomitable spirit of rising above it’s conditions and making a success of it.
    Success is more often than not is a relative term.Recommend

  • Suresh

    @T:
    I am sure you have never left pakistan to see the outside world..read the comment from your countryman Noman Ali..come out of your madrassa..Lol…Recommend

  • Suresh

    @Ali Tanoli:
    karachi’s Orangi town is the biggest slum in Asia..so chill..BTW, i thought you were American.how come you address as “we pakistanis”..Recommend

  • http://www.riazhaq.com Riaz Haq

    @Asad: A recent book titled “Behind Beautiful Forevers” by Katherine Boo documents discrimination against Muslim slum dwellers in Mumbai.

    Also, according to Sachar Commission report, produced by a committee led by a former Indian chief justice, Rajender Sachar, Muslims are worse off than the Dalit caste, or those called untouchables. Some 52% of Muslim men are unemployed, compared with 47% of Dalit men. Among Muslim women, 91% are unemployed, compared with 77% of Dalit women. Almost half of Muslims over the age of 46 can not read or write. While making up 11% of the population, Muslims account for 40% of India’s prison population. Meanwhile, they hold less than 5% of government jobs.

    http://www.riazhaq.com/2008/12/muslims-indias-new-untouchables.htmlRecommend

  • http://www.riazhaq.com Riaz Haq

    @ Suresh: The fact is that Orangi is nothing like Dharavi in terms of the quality of its housing or the services available to its residents.

    While Dharavi has only one toilet per 1440 residents and most of its residents use Mahim Creek, a local river, for urination and defecation, Orangi has an elaborate sanitation system built by its citizens. Under Orangi Pilot Project’s guidance, between 1981 and 1993 Orangi residents installed sewers serving 72,070 of 94,122 houses. To achieve this, community members spent more than US$2 million of their own money, and OPP invested about US$150,000 in research and extension of new technologies. Orangi pilot project has been admired widely for its work with urban poor.

    http://www.riazhaq.com/2009/09/orangi-is-not-dharavi.htmlRecommend

  • Critical

    @Riaz Haq:
    STOP PROMOTING YOUR WEBSITE…
    I know that you’re sitting in US and you’re spending your time creating blogs and putting the reference in ET and other forums so that others will read it….and your hit count will increase

    I do find that you just use false data and half-baked truth to highlight your points…..

    @Moderators
    Will you please remove the hyperlinks from Riaz Haq’s comments so that he can constructively comment not advertise his blogsRecommend

  • Ground situation

    Seriously Guys- someone needs to be seriously updated.

    The 9000 Crore(INR) Dharavi redevelopment project is already on.
    What are we talking about?Recommend

  • http://deleted Farah chinoy

    I have been visiting Delhi regularly for the last couple of years as part of Theatre Group workshops, and i second an opinion to someone in the comments section who remarked about Delhi’s stride in city development.

    Beleive me folks the transformation of the city has to be lauded. Considering the population and problems of Delhi, what has happened there can be compared to an elephant tied with chains and finishing 100 mtrs within 10 secs.

    If Delhi can do it why cant other cities of the subcontinent.Recommend

  • Great Indian

    Slums do exist in many Indian cities and Pakistan may have less proportion of the city population living in slums, which is indeed an achievement. Indian government is trying their level best to alleviate poverty. The main question is where will India stand in year 2020. Our great former president APJ Abdul Kalam gave us India vision 2020 mission. The goal is to become a Industrialized/developed country by 2020. In my opinion India is in the right direction to achieve the goal. If you aim to become a developed country, you might achieve at least some of the goals. Other than Kashmir I am not sure if any Pakistani leader came up with a vision statement. It is never too late. We always have two choices in life the first one is to complain about poverty and do nothing about it and the second choice is to do something. Recommend

  • Murugan

    @Riaz Haq:

    “Some 52% of Muslim men are unemployed” – most of the Muslim families are large and they tend to go in to their family business and the parents don’t give importance to higher education, by the way even Hindus have large number of people as unemployed and uneducated and there is no form of discrimination in India…

    “Among Muslim women, 91% are unemployed” – again same, Muslim society hardly allow their daughters and wife to go for higher studies and then work in a field where their women folks have to work with men or doing night shifts, but things are changing and the younger generation are defying the old mentality and getting educated to work in any field…

    While making up 11% of the population Muslims account for 40% of India’s prison population – don’t know from where you got this info…

    One thing I can understand from your post is – you want to tell your people that India is far worse then Pakistan and life of Muslims are hell in India, keep doing this and after 10 years the gap between India and Pakistan must have been widened even further…Examples – India’s each industry size is far bigger then your country, Example are:- IT more then $100 billion, according to Mckinsy Pharma industry size will be $20 billion in 2015, India is the world largest motor bike manufacturer, More than 3.7 million automotive vehicles were produced in India in 2010, making it the sixth largest in the world, India amoung the few countries who have reached moon, Indian Remote Sensing satellites (IRS system) is the largest constellation of remote sensing satellites for civilian use in operation today in the world, with 10 operational satellites.

    Even in Infrastructure there is a big gap between the two countreis – Delhi airport is the world fourth largest, Hyderabad international airport has been named amongst the world’s top five in the annual Airport Service Quality (ASQ) passenger survey along with the ones at Seoul, Singapore, Hong Kong and Beijing.In 2010, Hyderabad airport was ranked among the top airports of the world in the airport services quality (ASQ) by the global body, Airports Council International (ACI). It retained the number one position for the second year in a row among 49 airports handling 5-15 million passengers per annum (mppa). Also already we have 3 metro rail in operation and another six metros are under construction…

    Also we know that we have one of the world largest section of people living in poverty – but poverty can’t be eradicated with any magic wand you need a basic setup to pull all the section of society out of poverty, and we in India have that setup now, I am from a backward caste called (Nadar) and today including me my six sibling are doing great and have achieved a greater height in our carrier, which my parents may not have even dreamed (which they say often) – we made it possible all because of the past two decades of India’s economic growth. By the way I am form Dharavi and we have the toilet in our house and we don’t have to go to Mahim creek, and your creek story is exaggeration…

    Mr. Haq watch the below video how a barren land is today standing as one of the best IT park of Asia and this kind of development of India is our future hope :-
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69vTXDPlOkwRecommend

  • Maria

    @Ali Tanoli: I agree, while India wastes billions of dollars, hundreds of millions of people suffer in poverty. Why should they waste money when they should focus on the pressing issue of the downtrodden there. Apart from Kashmir which eventually will have to have a free referendum as mandated by the UN, there is no need for India to be spending billions on nuclearizing South Asia.Recommend

  • Murugan

    @Maria: could you please elaborate where India is wasting billions of dollars??…India’s defense budget share on GDP is only 2.5% and we consider it’s very much necessary by being the sixth largest country in land mass with huge natural resources, also a huge coastal area to defend from external aggression…By the way the Pakistan defense budget share on GDP 3.2% so please correct yourself before pointing finger on others…

    As far as nuclearizing goes, it’s China who brought the nuclear weapon to Asia first and it becomes necessary for India to posses one to thwart any future war with China…Recommend

  • Usmani

    strange to see the Indian brothers are defending their position and showing us the brighter picture of the India only.No doubt the education and social awareness bring changes to the society but it is a long drawn war that takes decades to bear fruits. India is the largest democracy, and fighting for their just rights is not a criminal acts. Fighting for better sanitation and asking for clean environment – just needs mass demonstration.Recommend

  • Gaurav

    Dharavi is one issue Defense of country against evil designs is other.Recommend

  • Murugan

    @Usmani: Brother we are not denying the poverty in India, but it doesn’t mean we have to only see the negative aspects and discredit the achievements, poverty can not be eradicated overnight it will take time, India have lifted a massive 330 million people out of poverty during the past two decades, and we have high hope for our future and truly believe we can lift the entire section of India out of poverty in next 2 to 3 decades…Please watch the below video where you can see how the youths of two big countries of world India and China thinks about their future and their positive hope….

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eNhTnc6OgRwRecommend

  • dpd

    @ ALI TANOLI!!!!
    “we dont have rigit caste system”
    Can you explain to me as to who is a SUNNI, SHIA OR HAZARA. What about a SALAFI, DEOBASNDI, BARELVI etc etc. Do they have their own MOSQUES? Do they get married within their own COMMUNITY? What about the AHMEDDIES???Recommend

  • dpd

    I am a Pakistani.
    I am an Indian.
    Years ago there was only ONE country.
    The people were ONE.
    From Karachi to Mumbai .. From Lahore to Delhi … the people were ONE.
    Today FOOLS fight over their COUNTRY being the BEST.
    And who are the FOOLS ….. BUT US!!!!!!!!!Recommend

  • saad

    First of all I thank the author for this article and shedding light on what goes on in Mumbai. That being said this is of course not a problem only in Mumbai or India but of course all over the world. I was born in Pakistan and saw some of the most terrible things imaginable being a norm for the very poor. India and Pakistan need to stop fighting and unite. Politicians make people fight to stay in power and they will never solve anything.

    There will come a time soon when the younger generations of India and Pakistan will totally shun their politicians and “leaders” and create a new vision for themselves which will have more resources going for what is needed. We need to stop being slaves to white european imperialism which used divide and conquer to rule us. I pray to Divine that this message go in the hearts and minds of indians and pakistanis. We are one of the oldest societies in mankind and are ruled by one of the most ignorant and unenlightened people every known to mankind…..Recommend

  • Shyam

    @T
    and Delhi is probably the dirtiest city in the world where one can’t walk without clipping their nose

    (Wiping eyes with tears of laughter) ROFLMAO, It is obvious that you have never been to Delhi. Recommend

  • mona

    when u talk about muslims as being vilens than thiunk about it who runs the underworld in mumbai which religious groups attack mumbai yes u know the answers!! n bye the way u see the vilen in movie is muslim n didnt saw herro who is muslim in reallife!! why do u guys show taliban as vilen the r also muslims plzz dont do it!!!
    <@Ahmad: Recommend