Slums: ‘look how we’re treated in our own home’

 “‘We keep Indian culture alive, we are its ambassadors across the world, but look how we are treated in our own home’” – Puran Bhat, a 62-year-old puppeteer.

Poverty is not the sole definition of slums; physical and social deterioration also attribute to slums that exist around the world. Also known as the “magicians’ ghetto,” Kathputli Colony found in India’s Rajasthan state is said to be the biggest single concentration of traditional street artists in the world. Its narrow lanes and teetering brick houses are home to dancers, sword-swallowers, singers, fire-eaters, sculptors and other practitioners of fast-disappearing arts. The conditions that the communities in this colony live in, however, are not pleasant.

Several mechanisms cause this deterioration and poverty. One is “red-lining” by financial and insurance institutions. Older areas like this county with less affluent residents are perceived as not profitable enough for home or business loans and insurance coverage, which prevents the repair and improvement of dwellings and buildings. Inability to obtain insurance coverage makes it difficult or unwise for businesses or home owners to remain in red-lined neighborhoods. Therefore, we have slums.

Local authorities have launched a campaign for the redevelopment of Kathputli thatwould use more community-friendly approach and set a nationwide example. Because, usually, slum clearances simply meant local authorities evicting inhabitants, demolishing their homes and banishing tens of thousands to distant, poorly built resettlement villages on the outskirts of Delhi. Raheja, a major property company, paid 61m rupees ($600,000) to the Delhi Development Agency, a municipal body, for the right to develop Kathputli. The plan was to house the community in a comfortable “transit camp” two miles from their former homes while the £40m development plan was completed. Each family would then receive one of 2,800 one-bedroom flats built on around 60% of the five-hectare (12.5-acre) site.


According to one individual, this is the reaction of the community living in the public to this plan:
” ‘We’ve been here for decades and no one has ever shown any interest in giving us anything. Now there is money around to be made they suddenly want us to have better lives. We don’t believe their promises.’ ”


Two of the major entities contributing to social decline, thus leading to the existence of slums are landlords and banks.   Three states, Nevada, New York and Arizona Bank of America has a new program to supposedly keep distressed homeowners in their homes by having them turn over the Deed to the property (Property deeds are legal instruments that are used to assign ownership of real property, to transfer title to the land and its improvements such as a house). Now, we can have a bank be a landlord, great.  Banks should not have a say in real estate. It can be argued that the fact that Bank of America wants to help the struggling homeowner us a nice deed, but they’re at the same time the ones who they’ve turned down with loan modification. What banks should actually do is offer distressed homeowners loan modification that actually works.


Cites Summarized:;43/7/1061

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