INDIA’S URBAN SLUMS: Rising Social Inequalities, Mass Poverty and Homelessness ~ by Arun Shrivastava
Former World Bank and UN official Manmohan Singh was never projected as India’s Prime Minister; he was imposed on 1.2 billion hapless Indians. Former World Bank [WB] major domo Montek Singh was never elected yet lives a lavish life in Delhi. As one insider says he is very happy in Delhi because he doesn’t have to fetch a glass of water himself. Chauffeurs, servants, cooks, and officially employed attendants make life easy for this economaniac who thought that Rs. 32 [60 cents] per day of spending power is sufficient for urban Indians to be called ‘Above Poverty Line.’ These two minions of the neo-liberal gangsters in Washington and London will do India in unless booted out soon.
A roll of good quality toilet paper that perhaps Montek uses costs more than Rs. 32. A mini McDonald’s potato burger that would barely fill a small corner of a typical American tummy costs Rs. 20 in Delhi and a 200 millilitre bottle of water Rs. 5. Perhaps that is what Montek and his cronies had in mind. The poor want to hang them; the European bankers want them at any cost.
When I shared this “32 rupee joke” with the slum-dwellers they said: “these peope should be paid Rs 32 per day to live if they want us to live on Rs 32.” Many journalists were so incensed that they called for dismantling the Planning Commission which is currently headed by Montek.
Urbanization in India
India’s urban population has grown from 62 million in 1951 to 377 million according to Census data.
Today there are 7,742 urban areas, home to about 65 million families. Urbanization will grow at 4% per year as per some estimates adding over 15 million persons every year.
53 million-plus cities are home to over 160 million persons.
Five states- Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Punjab, Maharashtra and Karnataka- will have more than half of their total population living in urban areas employed in industries or services. These five states also account for nearly 50% of India’s slum population.
Most cities and towns are Urban Basic Service Deficient. Basic services like safe access to home, predictable and sufficient water supply, proper sewerage system, safe energy sources, and waste disposal system including sufficient number of toilets for each household have been denied to the majority.
16% of urban households do not have a toilet; 46% do not have a toilet with flush system. Over two million are homeless living in the streets.
Drive through any town and you will be confronted with filth, squalor, open sewers, and hordes of flies and mosquitoes.
Slumization of India
India’s slum population more than doubled, from 43 million in 2001 to 93 million in 2011 in ten years and it is projected to grow at 5% per year, adding nearly two million every year, according to official Government data.
Across urban India about twelve million more will be added in the slums by 2017.
A slum is defined by UN-HABITAT as a run-down area of a city characterized by substandard housing and squalor and lacking in tenure security. People who live in slums are illegal occupiers of Government vacant land are not entitled to any social safety benefits or any public service. In Delhi, for example, 100 people on average share one toilet; if they don’t have access to any, they defecate in the street or the surrounding green belt of posh colonies.
Those who live in the posh colonies simply look away. Within the square mile where Manmohan and Montek live, they don’t need to look away because that is the only slum-free zone in India. That is where the warmongers like Obama, Bush, Blair, and Sarkozy meet these two ‘civilian’ war mongers on the people of India.
Slum, or in other word ‘ghetto,’ was used as a derogatory term by the British colonialists, if I am not wrong, to describe India’s traditional rural habitat. Since the British had colonized India, they created what is known throughout India as “CIVIL LINES” as if the rest of India lived in “UNCIVIL LINES.” Civil lines were pockets of affluence where the White racist supremacists lived, served by the people of the SLUMS. That is how urban India remains organized to this day.
There is another feature of urban India that few write about. The British Indian “Civil Lines” were built close to the railway stations. After the mutiny of 1857, they had prepared for the eventuality of evacuating India in a hurry. Yet these rascals survived another 90 years until 1947.
The inherited civil lines of INDIA’s BROWN SAHIBS
Today the slums should be called ‘urban poverty pockets’ or UPPs as many social workers prefer to call them and they are right. But our planners sitting in the Planning Commission headed by the World Bank freak still call urban poverty pockets ‘slums’ fit to live on less than Rs. 32 per day per person and not qualified for social security. That is the World Bank and IMF agenda: “the only way the European elite can live in peace is by keeping these folks undernourished in squalor and filth.”
The Brits left 65 years ago leaving a legacy of gross mismanagement of civilian affairs amidst efficient exploitation of whatever they liked. Both survive to this day and perhaps in as inhuman form as during the Raj.
That is deliberate. Not one city has well laid drains and sewerage system. Not one has adequate water supply. Not one has dependable electricity supply. Not one has properly paved roads and street lighting.
There are twenty-three different types of urban authorities but not one is administered or managed by experts. For the administration, the people don’t matter.
Paved roads, well lighted streets, proper water supply, proper sewerage system are even today limited to zones where now the Brown Sahib’s live.
These Brown sahibs are politicians, bureaucrats, judges, senior journalists, senior police officers, but not the constables. The constables who wield the baton on hapless Indians live in slums or steaming hot barracks, some worse than the filthy trenches of the First World War
Historians have calculated that about 100,000 Brits ruled over South Asia, from Afghanistan to Burma.
Years ago a high ranking British intelligence officer had warned that plans for depopulation of large cities were drawn up in the US by one of the Club of Rome’s research Foundations and overseen by one Thomas Enders of the US State Department.
True to that prediction, Indian cities and towns are dying a slow death. The Brown Saheb’s can’t do a ‘Pol-Pot’ here and that they know.
Today, there is greater efficiency in planned mismanagement. Only 25 Chief Ministers, 632 District Magistrates, 632 District Police Chiefs, and 542 Members of Parliament make life miserable for 377 million urban Indians.
Image 1: Farmer’s hut, 1880; these huts were better suited to the harsh Indian summer and the equally harsh winters. The clay tile roof not only drained rainwater, it insulated the home from heat and cold. These hollow clay tiles with air pockets insulate the home from the top. The clay walls keep the homes cool.
Image 2: India’s Fruit Bazaar, 1880. Nearly hundred years after the British occupation of India, the signs of severe malnutrition were already visible.
Image 3: Honeymoon Lodge, Barrackpore Park, Bengal, 1878. This was the pleasure house of the occupiers.