Home > Socio-specific > Can India be slum-free in 5 years?

Can India be slum-free in 5 years?

Yesterday, the Indian President Pratibha Patil announced her government’s ambitious plans of eradicating slums in India by launching special housing schemes for the urban poor and slum-dwellers. This program is aimed to provide housing to over millions of slum dwellers across the country who do not have even the most basic amenities to lead a decent lifestyle.

While the Presidential vision, aided by the current government, may be benevolent and concrete, it is certainly a little far fetched owing to the short time line of 5 years which certainly is not enough to achieve this monolith task!

For starters, with well over a billion people, India is the second most populous nation in the world! As if that was not a shocker enough, UN-HABITAT states that India is home to 63% of all slum dwellers in South Asia. This amounts to a staggering 170 million people, 17% of the world’s slum dwellers. It is believed that approximately 260 million people in India (a group almost equal to the entire population of the United States) still earn $1 or less a day. And according to the United Nations, 70 million people earn less than $2 a day. As India continues to grow in economic stature, there’s much debate over the country’s ability to tackle poverty and urban homelessness.

There are 314,700 children living on the streets of Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Kanpur, Bangalore and Hyderabad, and another 100,000 living in New Delhi. These figures exclude the count of homeless adults in any of the mentioned cities.

The problem of homelessness is associated with a number of factors such as lack of affordable housing, changes in the industrial economy leading to unemployment, inadequate income supports, de-institutionalization of patients with mental health problems and the erosion of family and social support, physical or mental illness, disability, substance abuse, domestic violence and job losses being among the many factors that contribute to miseries in the lives of slum dwellers in India. Concrete measures to address every single one of them need to be undertaken to ensure that rehabilitation of the poor is a result oriented effort and not a futile exercise. It therefore calls for the need for the government to view the problem in a holistic and inclusive manner, one that shall keep in focus the real issue and the factors associated with it.

While several programs, such as the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) and more recently the Rajiv Gandhi Awas Yojana, are in place to help the government achieve its mission, the government needs to ensure their effectiveness at the grassroots levels, by channelizing funds and resources in the right direction and making sure that they are not mired in the entangled mess of the infamous bureaucracy. More so, dedicated authorities need to oversee rehabilitation and construction programs with stringent monitoring processes in place to ensure effective utilization of funds. The government may also rope in credible partners from the private sector, while also requesting corporates to contribute to this cause as part of their social responsibility programs.

A careful and systematically planned approach is what is needed to make this ambitious vision a reality, while fully understanding that this is possible only with utmost dedication and commitment. The government should also focus immensely on the urban poor who account for a substantial part of India’s population.

However, it still makes me wonder! 5 years?

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  1. Indraniel Chandra
    June 5, 2009 at 2:17 pm

    Impressive thought !!

  2. June 9, 2009 at 12:08 pm

    Niel, Thanks very much! Do keep visiting!

  3. June 9, 2009 at 4:55 pm

    They have already tried housing schemes haven’t they?? Only to see it get put up for rent by the slum guys and then themselves staying in slums only…

    Govt should not proceed this way.. little by little.. destroy the slums… for suppose 100 homes every 3 months and construct homes for them there only… save land.. and they don’t have their shanties to go back to and will have to live themselves under the roof… not put it for rent…

    Secondly.. you cannot expect a diaspora to grow if u just give it money… you need to stimulate them to grow… just giving a house and a lakh per victim isnt good… but constructing some government venture there… and giving them a 100 rupee pay will make them into hard working citizens… who will not have time to lay idle all day and destroy their lives…

    Limited jobs like such will also help curb population..cause parents will know there are a limited no of jobs available… not like now..when there is no job…only scavenging..and more the hands the better… having 9 children and all will have a lesser incentive then… in my humble opinion…

    Setting things in motion is more important rather than the time frame.. give sucha big task a time frame… is nothing other than trying to create headlines… “govt vows to remove property” does not have the same kind of headline effect as “govt to eradicate poverty in 5 years”…. they should learn to be responsible…. it isnt humanely possible to remove 40 percent of the slums effectively.. ( non reversing back) in 5 years i think…

    private sectors can help indeed in this venture..taking up one area of the slum giving homes and also providing vocational workshops to impart training in their own specific field…thus also guaranteeing a graduate with reqd skills as reqd by them rather than the extremely broad and generalized education system of india.. also they will get a higly loyal workforce..seeing that they ahve grown up under them… military schools have 18 army chiefs and countless other high ranks… similarly.. i think private sector will see the same promise of a good workforce… a strong commited and loyal workforce…

    My thoughts!!! Running amok..! But I would like to add one last line that then it will be benefiacail for the country…the votes of a workforce cannot be bought with a bottle of beer like the slums… also we can not question them and expect them to stand up and answer… cause now … I dont think they are trained soldiers..or from my background of military school…and i dnt expect any other man who has to search for food in the garbage to be even slightly bothered about the country politics n all.. u cannot blame them now… change the situation and then do..!

    Sorry Bud, this has gone out of context but then.. I like to beleive that I have a freedom on ur spaces.. 😉

  4. June 10, 2009 at 11:15 am

    Samby –

    Very good thoughts! Absolutely second every single one of them!

    Indeed, the government needs to establish employment projects that ensure jobs for people who have been rehabilitated from slums, once their housing and lifestyle amenities have been taken care of! This ensures that people have stable jobs and more importantly, a stable income that helps them sustain their living and also that of their families. A huge number of problems can be rooted out from this model.

    Secondly, like you pointed out, removal of slums and rehabilitation of people living in slums should be a well planned inclusive project which involves granting houses and simultaneously destroying slums. This ensures a two-pronged goal being attained; #1 being proper housing projects being established and #2 being slums being removed.

    Thirdly, as you said, the government should rope in private participants and NGOs to enact what would be their part of the Corporate Social Responsibility effort so that superior efforts and processes come into being to attain the targeted goal. This ensures that participation is strong and the end objective is clearly outlined with systematic processes, checks and balances in place.

    One really doesn’t need to be a rocket scientist to put together such a scheme and make it operational!

    Thanks as always for your comments and patronage! Greatly appreciate either!

    And for the freedom on my spaces, unquestionable, unconditional and unrestricted are the 3 U’s I shall guarantee 🙂

    As a pointer, I have removed the header picture from my personal blog so that loading up is now faster at your end!

    Cheers

    Rakesh

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