It's quite startling when you come across the beauty of fresh flowers in a slum.
|There are more than 30 families here in this shanty town near the Sai Mandir. |
It is a cottage industry, where people work with flowers.
Look closely at the street behind this lady. It has semi-permanent ramshackle structures. The houses are made of bricks, with asbestos for roofs. There is a man sleeping on a really narrow make-shift bench on the right.
|A blue tarpaulin strung between the house and the street wall|
provides shade and protection from rain.
A lot of things that more prosperous Dilliwallahs throw away are recycled by the slums. In the photo below, note the door which is made of recycled wood. Two pieces of waste plywood have been nailed together using other waste wood scrap pieces, to make one big door. Water is stored in buckets and recycled cans. There is a gunny-bag hanging on the left which once used to hold cement, but now is used as a container.
|In the slum, recyling is a necessity, not a virtue.|
The white floorboard which covers the gaping hole in the road
is probably an extra tile from a construction site.
And yet, despite the poverty, the people who work here have regular incomes not just for their basic needs, but also to go to the cinema, or to send children to school. One of the primary reasons is that there are multiple earning members in the family, many of whom are women.
|Finished product, ready for sale at the temple.|
Marigolds are the most popular flowers in India used for prayer as well as decoration.
Here is a street view of the "main road" of this slum. It is twice the width of the side lanes. There are shops here, selling provisions and small daily needs items like tea, biscuits, soap and shampoo sachets. The branded FMCG companies have all learnt the importance of having small sachet sizes, starting at 5 rupees. Cycles and motor-cyles are parked here.One of the shops on this main street is a tailor. You can see the illegal wires that provide electricity for this shop. The tailor has an assistant, so it's not just a one-man show. Maybe they take jobs not just for the local slum, but also sub-jobs from other places.
|Life in this part of Delhi is not easy, but to the people who live here, it is still better |
than the conditions they have left behind in their villages when they migrated
to Delhi. Here at least, they can work and earn and hope for a better future.
Since I don't see these trends changing, I have come to the obvious conclusion: Slums are a fact of life in Indian cities, they are here to stay. A slum-dweller is not a beggar scrounging for dole; he or she is most often a migrant who has a job of some sort and is hoping for a better life in the city. We cannot wish away migration. We are therefore faced with the problem of how to keep providing for all the new entrants who pour in every day. So far, the answer has been a less than satisfactory response from the planning authorities with haphazard "resettlement colonies". That isn't really working. Time for Delhi to think up some better answers.