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Life in a Slum

India is a Third World Country. At first glance, this statement seems rather obvious but it has a profound impact on us as a country. Even though the courts have upheld the state to make accommodations available to slums during monsoon, the poor are rarely safeguarded.
|| Bhoomika Mohan

With the monsoon covering the capital under its umbrella, most people seem to have had a sign of relief. The scorching heat this year made it hard to survive for labourers and field workers or farmers.

Today the slum population of the country constantly seem to be fighting an uphill battle against the environment. For them to make it through life, they must make it to an environment that accelerates their survival rather than hinders it.

PHOTO/KARAMVIR KAMAL

People living in slum areas do not fail to recognise the seasonal diseases that rains bring, but they fail to operate and act against it.

Unlike others who have access to powerful resources this season, they witness a spurt of water borne diseases such as malaria, diarrhoea, typhoid and dengue; being the most common of all.

They lack awareness about the water purification techniques as simple as drinking boiled water.

The slum dwellers are worst affected by the rains when they fail to repair leaking roofs that drop contaminated water at all hours. Eventually this stagnant water becomes the breeding ground for mosquitoes.

PHOTO/KARAMVIR KAMAL

Because of their lack of resources and political clout, the residents of slums often have no choice but to occupy places that are unfit for habitation. Majority of the houses in the slums are built around or near small water bodies which make them vulnerable to floods, especially in coastal cities. The floods carry tonnes of garbage that clogs their entrances.

Cooking and storing food during monsoon seems like another mile high climb to them. It becomes more painful to not go to work than to actually do it.

“Every time the effects of monsoon are devastating.” Says Kamla, the pregnant working lady living in a slum in Chirag Delhi. Her husband works as a daily wager at the drainage management and her son works with her at a brick factory nearby. She tells us how they spend days with half their bodies in water all day during monsoon every year. She says “I am worried about this baby coming into a world that doesn’t care about us. I feel helpless because I cannot ensure him survival.”

PHOTO/KARAMVIR KAMAL

What break hearts is the fact that their families work insane hours physically on something they have no idea weather will be able to accumulate enough money to buy food that night. Despite certain laws that exist in order to make lives a little less difficult for the poor, little to no help reaches them.

In the absence of political mobilisation, slums and squatter settlements are neglected. While residents need to act together, so political evictions can be handled in a manner that involves the poor. Slums therefore, should not be a term of the middle class to show how they have bettered their position. The existence of slums, inequality and a polluted urban environment ultimately shapes format for the world to look at a country.

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