Wednesday, 4 March 2015

The curious case of Slums in India

Slums are considered as the poorest form of life. Unlike insufficient life in rural areas, slums are much worse though they exist in urban areas. Poverty and lack of basic needs are the hallmark of slums. It is a painful experience to walk through a slum witnessing the helplessness and bottom level living standards that slum-dwellers lead. It would evoke so many questions about our own existence in the world. Slums, as the name itself sounds awful, are in total a reality of life which we cannot ignore.

As said earlier, slums don’t have the basic needs of life or have the pathetic level of needs. Housing for example, gives the basic picture of the wretched life in slums. They are often made with plastic sheets, old cloths and whatever waste material they find to cover the roof. There will be no ventilation and the floors are dirty like the streets they live in. Slum dwellers are not protected from rain or storm. They are open to pollution all the time and suffer a lot with diseases. The saddest part is that it is very difficult for slum dwellers to get medical aid or help from authorities because they are the marginalized group in the society.

Most of the slums are situated near drainage areas. The unhygienic environment makes their lives much harder and they are always on the shore of health related issues. They don’t have access to safe water and they use contaminated water available in their surrounding for household needs. The frequent interaction with contaminated water not only affects their health but also invites mosquitoes and other insects which carry harmful viruses. Women and children are more affected by the scarsity of clean water. Women, as they are in charge of cooking and cleaning, are always interact with polluted water. Children, being fed by polluted water everyday succumb to water borne diseases very easily.

Other than poor housing, sanitation and health related issues, slums face more vicious aspects of life like lack of education and employment. Most of the children in slums don’t go to school. Their parents don’t have financial capacity to provide good education to children. Men in slums wander around in search of jobs and even if they find one get inadequate income to feed their family. They never get a chance to develop their skills and find a better income. The authorities ignore them as they don’t come under the elite urban population.

Mahatma Gandhi said, “There are people in the world so hungry, that God cannot appear to them except in the form of bread.” But, while it is about slum-dwellers, the situation is more deeper than finding bread. Poverty is a curse. Every member of the society has the right to lead a reasonable standard in their lives. But, ignorance and hatredness makes slum dwellers life miserable. Don’t they have the right to live happily and safely?

Whom should they ask about their poor life?

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