Guest post by MITU SENGUPTA
In a remarkable book about slumdwellers in Mumbai, Katherine Boo brings to light an India of “profound and juxtaposed inequality” – a country where more than a decade of steady economic growth has delivered shamefully little to the poorest and most vulnerable. But though indeed a thoroughgoing and perceptive indictment of post-liberalization India, the book fits into a troubling narrative about the roots of India’s poverty and squandered economic potential.
This is a beautifully written book. Through tight but supple prose, Boo offers an unsettling account of life in Annawadi, a slum near Mumbai’s international airport. In Boo’s words, this “single, unexceptional slum” sits beside a “sewage lake” so polluted that pigs and dogs resting in its shallows have “bellies stained in blue.” It is hidden by a wall that sports an advertisement for elegant floor tiles (“Beautiful Forevers” – and hence the title). There are heartrending accounts of rat-filled garbage sheds, impoverished migrants forced to eat rats, a girl covered by worm-filled boils (from rat bites), and a “vibrant teenager,” who kills herself (by drinking rat poison) when she can no longer bear what life has to offer.
Continue reading Review: ‘Behind the Beautiful Forevers’ by Katherine Boo
Guest post by SHVETA SARDA
Between 26 February, when it started and 6 March, yesterday, the survey of 220 houses has been completed in LNJP. There are roughly 1000 houses left to be covered. From the groundwork done end of last week by a group young women and men residents of LNJP, documents of many have been put in order, and the encounter with the survey teams this past week was much more confident. Continue reading The Survey Unfolds
Guest post by SHVETA SARDA
LNJP is an old settlement at the edge of old Delhi, opposite Turkhman Gate, beside the LNJP hospital, from which it gets its name. It began to be settled in the late ’60s, and is now home to about 12000 people. With the planned changes in the city ahead of the Commonwealth Games, LNJP, one of the oldest and last surviving settlements, has also now been earmarked for eviction and demolition.
The survey that precedes demolition has begun in LNJP. A survey is conducted by representatives from the Slum Department of the Municipal Corporation, to produce knowledge about the settlement to be demolished, in order to ascertain how many of its residents are eligible for resettlement. According to a Central Government order of 2000, all those who have lived in a settlement since before 1998 are eligible for resettlement; those who have lived there since before 1990 will be allotted plots of 18 sq m, and those who settled there between 1990 and 1998 will be alloted 12.5 sq m. Continue reading The Survey Begins