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SLUM and the CITY :
Towards Inspiration Tourism

-Karuna Gopal
Foundation for Futuristic Cities

Hyderabad|India|August'2009: Indian slums have discovered their own unique ways of being discovered. If becoming credit worthy is about attracting 5000 crores loan from commercial banks and becoming saleable is about having 80 real estate giants vying to invest US $ 240 million to transform the slum into a township and becoming visible is not only about
providing the backdrop for SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE but inspiring a reality show that rains ‘offerings’ to enhance entrepreneurship, Dharavi, Asia’s largest slum, blew the first conch. Others may not be far behind. Gore to glory is not impossible anymore, it appears…

Heal the City of Slums
Aspiring to make Mumbai a World Class City, recently a few US companies with a
market cap of over US$1 trillion held a closed-door meeting in New York with their Indian
counterparts. The agenda was to make Mumbai a major financial centre. But projecting
Mumbai as a world-class city was considered difficult when 60 per cent of Mumbai’s
population (a whopping 8 million) lives in slums -characterized by degraded housing,
poor hygiene, congestion, inadequate civic services and deplorable quality of life…

More than half of humanity now lives in cities. The growth of cities has always been
accompanied by the growth of slums. If Delhi has 860 slums housing 4 million,
Hyderabad has more than 1000 slums while Mumbai houses 8 million poor in its belly…

The World Bank estimates mention 460 million poor in India (2005), While ADB (Asian
Development Bank) places it anywhere between 622 -740 million.

With no clarity on the actual figures, it’s not surprising that Indian government has no
clue about the qualitative data pertaining to slums. Comprehensive information on the
status of slums not being available, policy makers are unable to articulate appropriate
policies. Thankfully, a survey launched in July 2008 aims to map the living conditions in
urban slums, hardships faced by the slum dwellers and their socio-economic status.

Interestingly, India is not only poorer according to the new estimates, the fight against
poverty failed between 1990-2005: a period marked by faster growth rate!!

Programs for the Poor have done poorly

In the early 70s, wanting to provide better dwellings, the first slum clearance board was
set up by DMk government in Tamilnadu. The project was not ‘well thought thru’, though
the capital costs were met the O& M costs were not factored in. The quality of houses
was so poor that they deteriorated into a new set of slums! The initiative meant to reduce
the slums paradoxically ended up increasing them!! In fact these sprawling slums within a few hundred meters from the sea were the ones that took a beating when tsunami
struck in Dec 2005.

Case studies on the subject and accounts from “Yamuna gently weeps – the saga of
Delhi slum demolitions” prove that efforts at rehabilitation through In-Situ development,
demolition drives have shown dismal success

Social Transformation: The Need

Policy makers attempted famed techniques like Dana (charity), Bheda (confrontation),
Danda (punishment) with little success. The method that promises to heal our cities is
Sama (conciliation) method. A case in point is Santa City .The sprawling slum at
Golibagh in Mumbai near Santa Cruz rechristened as SANTA CITY is undergoing a
spectacular transformation. The artistry involved in getting the consent of slum dwellers,
persuading them to vacate and move to temporary habitats is nothing but “Social
Engineering “.

A few years ago, the management guru CK Prahlad told convincingly the Bottom of the
Pyramid story. He argued that serving the 4 billion poor in the world is not only a viable
business proposition but is an economic necessity for Nations.

Slums have not become plum markets but surely they are defying the perception that
“Slums have Slim Chances”. They are becoming sources of not only story line supply
but talent supply. They are emerging as potential markets not only for slum tourism but
for inspiration tourism

A fine gem fit to grace a gold jewel,
If mounted in a cheap tin setting
Does not scream nor refuses to gleam
It is the jeweler who is put to shame

Hope this marshy land turned dumping ground turned sub-city, Dharavi , Asia’sLargest slum with a thriving business of 7000 crores, polishes policy makers perspective.

(Karuna Gopal was one of the members who developed the City Development Strategy of Hyderabad and she was one of the leading contestants of the Lead India Campaign launched by the Times of India.Karuna Gopal is the President of Foundation for Futuristic Cities. FFC is into Urban Advisory Services in the areas of City Visioning, City Branding Institutional Reforms, E- Governance implementation, Stakeholder alignment and Strategic Communication for driving the reform agenda.Prior to urban foray, she was the Founder President of Confluence Consulting , a Strategy Consulting firm with a portfolio of clients ranging from Multinationals to homegrown Indian firms cutting across IT , Telecom , Manufacturing , Biotech/ Informatics, Pharma and Knowledge sectors.Karuna Gopal l served on the Public Policy panel of CII and Hyderabad Management Association. Lectures at MDPs targeted at Policy Makers, Corporate Leaders at Indian Institute of Management (IIM - A), Administrative Staff College of India (ASCI) and Centre for Good Governance (CGG). She was a Faculty / Mentor for WBI (World Bank Institute)/ ASCI Urban Management Certification Programme. She has also addressed many a seminar organised by GOI, CII and FICCI.. Ms. Karuna article on "Inclusive Cities and Special Children" was recently chosen for "Paliamentary Documentation" due to its policy relevance.Karuna Gopal can be contacted at karuna@confluencemail.com)

Reachout's News Bureau
 August' 2009

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