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E defied fate and an unhelpful State to prosper through a mix of backbreaking work some luck and a great deal of ingenuity It is these men and women whom journalist Kalpana Sharma brings to life through a series of spellbinding stor. My first Dharavi book a place that despite being raised in Mumbai I know less about though I could relate to it in some sense One would have to be incredibly blind to have grown up in Mumbai not knowing what the working class life there is like or who the people who make it are This book is about the many many unsung lives of Dharavi

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Rediscovering Dharavi Stories From Asia's Largest Slum

Ies While recounting their tales she also traces the history of Dharavi from the days when it was one of the six great koliwadas or fishing villages to the present times when it along with other slums is home to almost half of Mumba. Having spent time in this particular slum this account of personal stories from within it held special meaning to me It is a good book if you want to learn about humanizing poverty especially within developing countries It helps the reader to realize that this place is represented incorrectly by calling it a slum it is a thriving city with sustainable industries

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Spread over 175 hectares and swarming with one million people Dharavi is often called 'Asia's largest slum' But Dharavi is much than cold a statistic What makes it special are the extraordinary people who live there many of whom hav. There aren t many well researched works of non fiction by Indian authors Such books are expensive to produce and publishers claim the market has not grown large enough to warrant the high cost This makes Kalpana Sharma s book published in 2000 by Penguin India all the remarkable because it is a wonderful piece of writing and journalism even when held to the very highest standards It is clearly a labour of loveThe author a senior journalist has managed to produce a well researched and readable account of Dharavi She has managed to avoid many of the trappings in a work of this nature such as romanticizing the experience of living amidst poverty or at the other extreme to paint a picture of wretchedness The book is interspersed with several anecdotes about the history of Bombay the birth of settlements in Dharavi and about the lives of people in Dharavi The author has done a good job in organizing these anecdotes so that they come together to illustrate her larger points Some very insightful observations stayed with me for example one where she observed that in India institutional memory is often inadeuate leading to reinventing the wheel every time there is a change at the topThis book works at many different levels There is the psychological level where the search of many individuals for an identity is described anecdotally especially how chance had a big role to play in the profession they eventually undertook and by which they would come to define themselves Then there is the sociological level which reveals the different layers of society in Dharavi on the lines of caste profession language religion and how this plays a big role in what people ended up doing and how they fare economically as well as on other social indicators She makes a compelling case that Dharavi is a microcosm for all of IndiaThere is the economic level which opened my eyes to the many ways in which in our everyday lives we are interacting with Dharavi without realizing it There was some fascinating description of the way geography and architecture interacts with economics This was accompanied by analysis of limitations to the Dharavi production models and the need for the input of greater technology and skilled production to improve profitability and retain competitivenessFinally there is the political level which describes how the political system has interacted with the phenomenon of Dharavi and urban suatting generally It was humbling and fascinating to read of the limited successes of the well intentioned slum redevelopment programs since the mid 1980s not because of corruption or even incompetence but just because of the complexity and multi faceted nature of the challengesThe thing I appreciated most about this book is that the author strives very hard for a dispassionate fair and truthful voice She does not get carried away by sentimentalism nor is she insensitive to the larger socioeconopolitical factors behind the manifest issues Most people in the world live in cities and most urban dwellers now live in India and China and most Indians in cities live in slums Read this book to get some idea of how a large fraction of the world lives


7 thoughts on “Rediscovering Dharavi Stories From Asia's Largest Slum

  1. says:

    There aren't many well researched works of non fiction by Indian authors Such books are expensive to produce and publishers claim the market has not grown large enough to warrant the high cost This makes Kalpana Sharma's book published in 200

  2. says:

    Dharavi Asia's largest slum is changing rapidly in form as well as content With MNCs and Builder lobbies needing space to develop the concrete

  3. says:

    My first Dharavi book a place that despite being raised in Mumbai I know less about though I could relate to it in some sense One would have to be incredibly blind to have grown up in Mumbai not knowing what the working class life there is like or who the people who make it are This book is about the many many unsung lives of Dharavi

  4. says:

    This book has very vital information and though I consider myself a person who wouldn't stereotype the poor some of my misconceptions about slums were revealed to me The main thing is that people go where there is work and if there is no housing people can afford they will live as near to their work as possible Also a huge majority of slum dwellers have jobs and want to improve their dwellings and will be encouraged to do so if they feel

  5. says:

    Stop Look and Listen Please don't go away The book slowly grows on you with each story you get closer to the people of the slum the stories of their life The stories of people from worker to owner they are not less than someone we look at as a role model an entrepreneur or an self made actor or a singer Dharavi

  6. says:

    Having spent time in this particular slum this account of personal stories from within it held special meaning

  7. says:

    So far goodbut it gets repeatative after a point