Slum Age’s Arrival

slumAfter Slumdog Millionaire’s Golden Globe awards sweep and nomination to the Oscars all attention is on the slums. One needs to wait and watch how far the present excitement is going to help the slum dwellers. P. Chidambaram told BYST (Bhartiya Yuva Shakti Trust of CII) audience “lot of young men and women in slums have the necessary qualities of being innovative and are willing to take risks to carry out a business venture”.


The Times of India (27.1.2009, p.1&3) brought out the successful slum dwellers across the country.


Vicky Roy (21) ran away from his home in Purulia in West Bengal when he was 11 years old. This poor tailor’s son have bright dreams brimming from his eyes. He used to be a rag picker after arriving in Delhi. Salam Balak Trust got hold him and took him to school. He completed class IXth through the trust. Today the slum dweller of Delhi is a celebrated international photographer. This former rag picker is going to shoot the reconstruction work of World Trade Center and study advanced photography in Visual Arts Institution in New York. In his maiden exhibition abroad, Vicky brought “Street Child” to the world through his photos. This exhibition was a big hit in London, Durban and Cape Town


Luck came to Vicky during his stay in Salam Balak Turst. He says “At that time  , a foreign filmmaker came to the trust to make a documentary and I realized photography was where my heart lay. I followed him around and tried to understand the nuances of shooting. But the real break in 2005 when I was 18 and was picked up by a renowned photographer. I jumped at the job which paid me Rs.3,000 and got me a cellphone and a bike”


Sanjay Malhotra (25) is a transformed man today. From a street bully near Sai Baba mandir, Lodhi road, Delhi few years back, Malhotra is rendering social service by rehabilitating poor people. Through a NO Chetna (Childhood Enhancement through Training & Action)


Rani escaped from a marriage to a man double his age when she was 14. She used to sell pooja materials and sundry items in Delhi’s Kalkaji temple. Today she is the leader for 5000 street children. Recently she was awarded for Clean India Campaign in Hyderabad.


With above 20% extreme poverty and 15% of the urban population leaving in slums it is essential to focus on these unprivileged areas. If there is already identification survey carried out in all the slums in the country then it should be used to rehabilitate the slum dwellers in low cost housing with all essential facilities. Adequate space, school, hospital recreation facilities, sports and revenue generation activities should be provided.


There are innumerable loopholes and vast corruption are there in the slum rehabilitation programs. Although a separate wing in the government works with a budget of sizeable amount of Rs.1000 crores annually it is less effective. The biggest reason is all round corruption. In Delhi last year Ashok Malhotra, a canteen operator in the secretariat made a huge fortune by buying and selling slum lands. Now the government and likes of Chidambaram should get into the microscopic issues in uplifting the poor. Simply allocating money is not enough. India needs to sustain well-motivated people to solve the perennial crisis like slums. Otherwise it can only become silver screen hits with the extreme poverty, slums and corruption.

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