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Top 10 Facts About Poverty in Mumbai
Mumbai is a city with a massive population but, like most of India, it struggles with poverty. Poverty has long been a major concern for the Indian government, but with a consistently growing population, it is becoming increasingly harder to create effective change. Regardless, having all the facts about the city is a good first step to understanding what can be done to improve living standards. The following are 10 important facts about poverty in Mumbai.

10 Facts About Poverty in Mumbai

  1. According to the 2011 census, the population of Mumbai was 12,478,447. Estimates for 2018 put the population around 22 million; however, the next official census is not scheduled until 2021.
  2. In 2016, an estimated 55 percent of Mumbai’s population lived in slums. A slum is an area of dense population typically characterized by poverty, deteriorated housing and buildings and poor living conditions. 
  3. Not all slums are recognized, or “notified,” by the Indian government, meaning residents of “non-notified” slums are not entitled to piped water, toilets, electricity or public transportation. This also allows the government to de-prioritize them in slum improvement schemes.
  4. Almost half of Mumbai’s slums are non-notified, and Mumbai is estimated to have the largest slum population of any city in the world. 
  5. Lack of access to clean water causes various bacterial infections. These can cause mild to severe diarrheal illnesses and, in some cases, mortality through the ingestion of harmful chemicals, toxins and bacteria. These illnesses are particularly prevalent in non-notified slums. 
  6. The Indian government created the Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) in 1971. Since then, the SRA has been implementing projects and policies to try and improve the lives of people living in poverty. The SRA website has a record of 1,513 total projects that have been run in cities and villages across India, including many in Mumbai. 
  7. Mumbai also has a large homeless population that is unable to access any housing or places to settle in. According to the 2011 census, over 54,500 people are homeless in Mumbai. 
  8. Mumbai had a 33.4 percent secondary education drop out rate in early 2017. However, there has also been a 20 percent increase in enrollment since 2010. 
  9. The income gap in Mumbai and other parts of India is widening. According to a Maharashtra survey, people in the poorest districts earn only 25 percent of what people in the wealthiest districts do. 
  10. The largest slum in Mumbai is called Dharavi. It is home to about one million people, however many of them are not below the poverty line. While still densely packed, Dharavi is home to middle-class, well-educated residents, and many of them have satisfactory living conditions.

These are the top 10 facts about poverty in Mumbai. While many of them depict poverty and issues that need to be addressed, others point out positive aspects of the city that may not always receive as much visibility. It is important to look at the city’s strengths in addition to its weaknesses in order to gain a fuller understanding of the issue at hand.

– Liyanga de Silva

Photo: Flickr


Also known as Bombay, Mumbai is one of the largest cities in India. Home to about 13 million people, it is one of the most populated metropolitan areas in the world. Mumbai is known for having some of the biggest slums in Asia. Here are 10 insightful facts about Mumbai:

  1. Areas that aren’t recognized by the government are called non-notified slums. These areas lack satisfactory sanitation, clean water, adequate housing and secure tenure.
  2. The houses in the slums of Mumbai are small shanties the size of about 269 square meters. A shanty is typically composed of one room with a small bathing area. Families are forced to share the sleeping area, which is normally composed of one bed and a mat rolled out on the floor at night. There is no kitchen, only a two-burner gas stove. Many families have no choice but to live in these overcrowded and under-resourced conditions.
  3. The houses do not have indoor toilets. Therefore, people living in shanties have to use communal bathrooms. The bathrooms are unhygienic and do not have proper sewerage to dispose of the waste.
  4. Residents are exposed to contaminated waters as a result of insufficient sewage systems. This is one of the main causes of health problems in Mumbai. People who live in non-notified areas do not have access to clean water. Many people are forced to illegally tap into city water pipes. This contaminates the city’s clean water.
  5. Dharavi is the largest slum in Mumbai, with about one million people residing there. It is the home of many microindustries that include tanning, leatherworking, pottery and plastic recycling. The slums of Dharavi are quite different from what is known as a typical squalid place. Instead, it is a “complex ecological and economic system.” The residents aren’t people who live below the poverty line. On the contrary, they are middle-class, educated folks who have been deprived of decent housing.
  6. Mumbai is a major center for education. The literacy rate is at 89 percent. Even the slums of Mumbai are India’s most literate. However, because Mumbai is so densely populated, school admission can be a challenging process. In fact, parents are advised to start applying six months in advance.
  7. The enrollment rate has increased by 20 percent since 2010.
  8. However, despite the increase, the number of dropouts in Mumbai has also drastically increased. Specifically, in secondary schools, as the dropout rate is 33.4 percent.
  9. Boys drop out from school more than girls do. In 2013, 39 percent of boys dropped out before completing elementary school. Thirty-three percent of girls dropped out that same year.
  10. The unemployment rate is higher in Mumbai than most places in India at 5.5 percent. However, it decreased from 5.7 percent in 2016.

These ten facts about Mumbai give an insight of the living situation. Although Mumbai has a lot of problems, there are many organizations addressing the situation. Organizations like the Fight Hunger Foundation and AMMA are helping to alleviate hunger and poverty in India. These ten facts about Mumbai also show the education side; it’s mostly positive with a literacy rate of 89 percent and a rising employment rate.

Solansh Moya

Photo: Flickr

mumbai slums
Currently, one in eight people across the world lives in slums. In 2014, an estimated 881 million urban residents lived in poor informal settlements in developing countries. These numbers are especially high in India where the 2011 census found that more than 17 percent of urban Indian households live in slums. Mumbai is one of the most populous cities in India, and while it is one of the wealthiest and most developed regions in India, it is also home to one of the world’s biggest slums. This article discusses the key facts about Mumbai slums.

 

Top Facts about Mumbai Slums

 

1. The United Nations Habitat program defines slums as informal settlements that lack one or more of the following five conditions: access to clean water, access to improved sanitation, sufficient living area that is not overcrowded, durable housing and secure tenure.

2. Mumbai, which is surrounded by water on three sides, has waged a constant battle since the colonial era to find space to expand. Adding to the pressure is the fact that growing employment opportunities in the city have led to a continuous influx of migrants from other areas of India. Shortage of affordable housing and a steady increase in real estate prices in the city has made formal housing unaffordable for most of these migrants.

3. An estimated 6.5 million people, around 55 percent of Mumbai’s total population, live in slums.

4. In Mumbai, slums are notified or recognized by the government if they were settled on state or city government-owned land prior to 2000. Nearly half of Mumbai’s slums are non-notified, meaning they have no security of land tenure and are not entitled to access city services like connections to the water supply and sanitation.

5. Most slum houses do not have individual toilets and taps. Residents have to pay to use community toilets which are rarely maintained and buy overpriced water from vendors. Some 78 percent of community toilets in Mumbai’s slums lack water supply and 58 percent have no electricity. Many slum houses do not have proper doors.

6. Dharavi, with an estimated population of one million people, is not only one of the biggest slum areas in Mumbai, but in the whole of Asia. While physical conditions in the area are dire, it has a thriving informal economy with an annual turnover of one billion dollars by some estimates.

7. Mumbai’s slums occupy 12 percent of its total geographic area and up to a quarter of the available construction area in the city.

8. Alarmed by the rising number of slums and in order to free up land, the state government has been attempting to rehabilitate the slums in Mumbai since the 1990s. The Slum Rehabilitation Authority allows private builders to construct new properties in former slum areas if they can get the consent of the current residents. The developer has to re-house the residents in the newly constructed buildings, free of cost. The rest of the available construction area can then be used to build upscale towers for commercial sale. These slum rehabilitation projects thus provide developers with an opportunity to access prime real estate, while renewing the area.

9. These slum rehabilitation projects are receiving significant resistance. The main concern is that they mainly focus on residential buildings that leave no space for informal businesses that are the livelihoods of many.

10. Apart from the millions of people living in Mumbai slums, the city also has a high number of homeless who cannot afford any form of permanent shelter. The official number of homeless people in the city is around 50,000. Some argue that the actual figure might be much higher.

While the living conditions in Mumbai slums are unimaginable and much more attention should be given to providing adequate services to people who live there, they also provide shelter and employment for millions of migrants who hope for better lives in the city.

Helena Kamper

Photo: Flickr

Project-based learning
The concept of project-based learning is powerful: actively working through a project allows students to show creativity and adaptability that may be lacking in students who are exposed only to a traditional classroom setting.

In India, project-based learning places students’ focus on solving issues of personal interest and mitigates the high pressure of traditional education.

Often, students are lectured by teachers for the sole purpose of learning information to perform well on standardized board exams. These tests have the potential to determine whether a student can attend top colleges, receive the best jobs and have an overall successful future.

This method of testing puts intense pressure on students to the point where cheating scandals occur every year. Numerous gadgets are marketed and sold, one example being small in-ear microphones that allow someone to remotely feed students test answers. According to the Los Angeles Times, there have even been reports of principals allowing students to cheat for a fee.

Students who perform well on these tests often go on to top colleges and careers. For everyone else, dropping out is a likely alternative. In India, 99 percent of kids are enrolled in primary schools, however only 37 percent continue on to college.

To help change the status quo, the American School of Bombay (ASB) provides an alternative to traditional education in India. ASB believes that students learn and perform better when guided by internal motivation.

This international school located in Mumbai strives to be forward-thinking in terms of its less traditional teaching methods and strong ties to technology. The school believes that “teachers are most effective when they facilitate collaborative student learning through a wide variety of media-rich, interactive, and authentic learning experiences.”

In most schools across India, teachers provide lectures that do not deviate from a set curriculum. However at ASB, teachers are willing to let students take the lead on getting involved in projects that suit their personal interests and skills. One example of such a project is Plugged In, where tech-savvy students decided that they wanted to impart their knowledge to other children in Mumbai who did not have the same access to technology.

The ASB students did not know until arriving that the less fortunate school where they volunteered had no access to a computer, and they were forced to work around this obstacle.

At the end of the program, the volunteers were able to donate a computer to one student who had excelled, only to discover that his family could not afford electricity. This discovery, however, led the ASB students to embark on a new project of developing a power source that can be fueled by burning trash.

Receiving an education is an important hallmark of ascension out of poverty to the middle class. Project-based learning offers an alternative to students who drop out of school if they do not perform well on board exams.

Furthermore, many projects that students engage in offer new and inventive methods of reducing poverty. Project-based learning gives hands-on practice for improving the quality of life for people living in poverty.

It allows students to take a role of leadership and find what works for them to make use of their natural drive. When it comes to her students, one ASB teacher felt that it is important to “be their partner in learning and mentor them to a place where they can take off.”

Nathaniel Siegel

Photo: Pixabay

kranti_organization
The Indian education system is steadily improving, thanks in part to the Right to Education Act passed in 2009. This granted free education for all children between the ages of 6 and 14. Now, 98 percent of children in India are enrolled in primary school. But this number does not tell the full story.

Many students in India still slip between the cracks — namely, female students. 62 percent of out-of-school children are female, as are two-thirds of illiterate citizens between the ages of 15 and 24. Furthermore, female students are much more likely to face harassment at school, which contributes to their increased dropout rates.

In 2010, Robin Chauraysia founded the Kranti organization, a nongovernmental organization (NGO) specifically working to educate and empower girls who were born in Kamathipura, Mumbai’s red light district. Established by the British in the 1700s, Kamathipura is one of the world’s oldest and largest red light districts. Here, over 10,000 women from all over India and nearby countries, such as Nepal and Bangladesh, work as prostitutes. Most have been trafficked, sold by relatives or trapped by men who promised them a better life in Mumbai. New arrivals to Kamathipura are often kept captive and blackmailed into staying. These women become stuck in the industry, as other employers discriminate against working and former prostitutes, and will not even hire them for simple jobs such as cleaning.

Chauraysia’s goal in starting the Kranti organization was to give these girls the same opportunities and education as more fortunate children and help them grow up to become leaders. Due to the extra support most students require, as well as the need to serve differing education levels, Kranti exists outside of the formal school system. However, the girls are encouraged to attend formal schooling when they feel ready. All girls receive therapy upon entering Kranti, which incorporates both cognitive-based methods and more creative practices, such as art or dance-movement therapy. They also work on improving their relationships with their mothers, who they are often taught to be ashamed of because of their profession.

Eventually, girls begin attending classes in a wide range of subjects. All students practice meditation and journal writing every day. They also learn math, reading, music, current events and creative thinking. At the center of the Kranti curriculum are multiple social justice units, covering topics such as caste, class, religion, the environment, gender, sexuality and women’s rights. The girls learn about the roots of India’s most pervasive social justice issues and where progress needs to be made. They work on projects around these units and offer creative solutions to the problems presented. They are also required to choose one physical extracurricular, such as karate or kickboxing, and one artistic extracurricular like photography or painting.

“Kranti” is the Hindi word for “revolution,” and the girls are traveling the world to spread the stories of their own personal revolutions. Kranti takes three to five trips each year, some around India and some abroad, in order to connect with other NGOs and lead workshops. The girls also wrote a play titled “Lal Batti Express,” or “Red Light Express,” about their stories of struggling and surviving. The play focuses on their experiences with discrimination and dealing with the stigma of their background. They are currently touring across the United States, performing at theaters and schools in New York and Los Angeles, a jail in Washington, D.C. and a domestic violence support group in Chicago. Kranti is also working with the Utah-based nonprofit Operation Underground Railroad, which helps rescue children from sex slavery.

When it comes to getting an education, women in India often face obstacles. But as the girls who were given a second chance with Kranti spread their message of revolution, they prove that it is possible for children of any background to succeed with the right support.

– Jane Harkness

Sources: GOOD Magazine, The Guardian 1, The Guardian 2, Kranti, KSL, NBC
Photo: The Guardian

christmas
Pulitzer Prize winner Katherine Boo spent years in Annawadi, a slum outside the bustling metropolis of Mumbai, India. With most people living without electricity or stable income in makeshift shelters, the slum stands in stark contrast to the bustling airport and luxury hotels a few miles away.  Over the course of her stay, Boo followed the lives of the people that call Annawadi home. She describes the stories she heard and the events she saw in her book, Behind the Beautiful Forevers.

Boo introduces us to many residents such as Asha, who uses the corrupt political climate to gain influence and prestige. Her daughter, Maniu, studies education and rejects many of the gender norms of her society.

Young children in the village compete for short-term jobs at the Mumbai hotels. These children are easily exploited and often work for next-to-nothing in stressful conditions before collecting garbage to sell as scraps and recyclables.

Corrupt police and vague laws govern the people of Annawadi. Mysterious deaths are not investigated, false accusations fly around without evidence and gangs run the streets. Religious tension is obvious as Muslim families are singled out in the predominately-Hindu village.

Though Boo paints a dark picture of poverty in India, there is still hope. International organizations are moving in to help the people in India, especially since the slums of the region are in dire need of schools, permanent housing and job opportunities. The children of the region believe that one day they will have permanent jobs in Mumbai, own a house and send their own children to school.  The young girls in the village also believe that the time has come to stand up for their rights and make a living for themselves.  Furthermore, children are becoming motivated to stay in school while families plan to move on to permanent housing projects.

Stephanie Lamm

Sources: Behind the Beautiful Forevers, New York Times
Photo: Vintage 3D