British Journalist Moves In to Slum, Rediscovers Humanity

Posted on December 10, 2013

The disorder, filth and misery — welcome to Dharavi, the most densely populated slum in the world, made famous, or rather infamous, by the Oscar-winning Hollywood blockbuster “Slumdog Millionaire.”

British Journalist Moves In to Slum, Rediscovers Humanity picture

Dharavi holds approximately 1 million residents in about one square mile of an area located in the middle of the Mumbai peninsula.

Here, miserable conditions are everywhere. Open channels of toxic waste snake through the tiny alleys that surround the shanties. Lacking toilets and proper sanitation, the sight of children defecating along the streets, people spitting and coughing, and rats sneaking through crevices and canals is common in Dharavi.

But despite the seemingly hopeless face of the homogenously grey and rusty backdrop of the rather bustling and luxurious Mumbai, there are many surprising details in Dharavi that are just positively worth telling.

British television presenter and journalist Kevin McCloud filmed his two-week stay in the slums of Dharavi and found himself rediscovering what the modern, advanced side of the world might have already forgotten. It is here where “disgust is followed by delight,” he said.

McCloud discovered that right here in the dark, smelly and filthy jungle of shanties, the employment rate is 85%, the crime rate is very low or even close to non-existent, and many here, contrary to what outsiders perceive, are very happy and have an interesting “sense of community.”

In the streets, the sight of multi-generational groups vibrantly discussing in large numbers is common. In London, Mr. McCloud says, such context is barely seen at all.

In other words, there are just some aspects in the way industrialized societies live that have been neglected in favor of wealth, luxury and power.

As Prince Charles was quoted as saying, “I strongly believe that the West has much to learn from societies and places which, while sometimes poorer in material terms are, in many senses, infinitely richer in the ways in which they live and organize themselves as communities.”

In this 40-minute documentary (see below), Mr. McCLoud dives into the heart of Dharavi to see it in a rather different light.


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