Saturday, April 14, 2012

Slums of Hope or Despair? (Friday, April 13th, 2012)

Slums of Hope

The world we live in currently is composed of various regions, each containing different cultures, dialect, and social norms. All the regions, despite being unique due to their homogeneous traits, also differ from one another due to the quality of life individuals abide by.

Dharavi, the largest slum in Asia, is the home to numerous amounts of people, each with a unique way of living. Making up almost 60% of the population of Mumbai, the people of Dharavi have been residing in the area for numerous years, even generations. The area's location and rent rates makes Dharavi the part of Mumbai individuals with low to average incomes may wish to reside in. Not only is Dharavi a home to people, it is also the area of Mumbai largely known for small enterprises and companies individuals living in the area may own and depend on to make ends meet. Controversies regarding the enterprises also exist as underground businesses and black markets are also a source of income for majority of the population of Dharavi.

As prestigious Dharavi sounds, the conditions residents of the area face would not satisfy the quality of life they may have dreamt of before moving to Mumbai from villages all over India. Little or no water, electricity shortages and poor sanitation have made the small area of Dharavi the slum it is known as.

The government of India and developers wish to renovate the area of Dharavi due to it attaining a large value in the market. By renovating and upgrading the shortages of basic necessities (water, electricity, sanitation etc.) they hope to provide the people of Dharavi a better quality of life and renew the area's reputation.

Where is the problem in renovation and relocation? The problem lies with the people of Dharavi who have been used to the area for many years and have adapted its function as their own lifestyle. Due to not being able to afford housing in other parts of Mumbai is one of the reasons individuals from other parts of India pursue residence in Dharavi; therefore, despite the government's renovation and reconstruction, the cost of living in a "newer Dharavi," may not be affordable for the poor in Dharavi.

The slum is infact an area of hope for India, the world and for individuals who want to pursue a better quality of life and provide their children the benefits they never had. Due to individuals leaving their villages and moving to Mumbai to find jobs, they are providing their children with the privilege of attaining an education which can change the social, economic and political reputation India currently attains for the better. If girls are able to pursue an education, they will be excused from their responsibility to marry early; therefore, decreasing the birth rates of India so that the population in future years is not overwhelming.

The development of Western countries in the past is a perfect example of urbanization revolutionizing global population growth and bringing it to a more sustainable level. When the industrial revolution hit countries such as America and Canada, individuals from large families moved from rural areas to cities to find jobs; therefore, urbanization is in fact helping the developing countries as people move to the cites from villages. Despite large populations of people moving to the city of Mumbai and not being able to afford housing, slums have acted as a more affordable alternative, despite a few negativities. Global population has therefore, been able to grow at a sustainable level in countries such as India due to individuals living in rural areas relocating to cities like Mumbai.

As an urban population increases, there can be various implications on health, education and economics of a country. More individuals allowing their children to attain an education can result in a better economy as less people become dependent on the government. Despite countries having to face problems with providing people pensions after retirement, the innovation and urbanization will allow the country to minimize poverty. Literacy rates in countries will increase due to individuals seeking an education to pursue jobs in their future; therefore, decreasing birth rates and bringing sustainability to population growth. As people find jobs in urban areas, they will be able to afford better health for themselves and their families.

In the end, slums cannot be classified as despairing because they are hope for individuals who have very limited choices. If a country wishes to progress in all areas, its people will have to accept a particular lifestyle in an urban area for the betterment of their successors.

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