Slums as perceived by most of us are dirty, dingy, mostly illegal and poor societies that lack amenities, wealth or basic standards of living. Today, for many large slums a part of this definition is true; whereas the other part is not. They are definitely dirty and dingy lacking many basic facilities but some of them possess huge amounts of wealth. India has some of the largest slums in the continent as well as the world in its largest metropolitan like Mumbai, New Delhi etc. This reflects the sharp contrast and irony of the two types of lives led in a developed city.
A slum is established when a group or a community of people who are weak economically, socially or culturally find an area to establish their dwellings. With time, schools and hospitals are developed in the region but the facilities are not up to the mark. They have to live a life of insecurity and fear as to when they will be dislocated or will be victimized by attacks from other communities. They are enveloped by the vicious cycle of poverty, unemployment, crime, corruption and illiteracy.
To add to their despair, the poor hygiene conditions, congested areas give rise to various health problems. Due to lack of proper amenities, the crime rate in such regions is extremely high. Probability of riots and fights is also high. But these days, many large slums are house to some of the biggest trades in the world; some illegal others legal. Many communities with a rich culture and indigenous art forms often promote them and resort to cottage industries to earn money. Many others are centres of drug and human trafficking, hubs for gangsters and dacoits and even terrorist camps. Life in a slum is unpredictable and dangerous as there is no security or stability of life. People there are surrounded by the fear as to when the government or any other NGO will come up with a new development project at the site of their settlement and they will have to leave the area. They have no financial or social back up and thus many families eventually land up struggling for square meals by doing odd jobs. Many communities disperse and settle in different cities and towns. Many others go back to villages in search of a stable life. This leads to disappearance of minority groups and their cultures.
Steps are being taken to take care of the slum dwelling people by governmental and non-governmental organizations alike. These people are being given proper legal areas to live and are being provided with employment opportunities as well. They are being protected socially, culturally and financially. Many slums are yet to receive this support. Cooperative measures will help them reap the benefits of our nation’s development.