One cannot deny the fact that cities have become important actors around the globe. As one of the densest cities in the world, India hosts up to 1.393 billion people in the world. Delhi itself contains up to 32,065,760 people and shows no sign of decreasing. The many functions which a city could bring together attract people from all walks of life but at the same time become the generator for many urban issues to arise.

            Overpopulation is one thing that urban developers and politicians have been trying to solve throughout urban development. But while a population of more than 30 million people could bring about many different urban issues, it can also bring together 30 million different solutions. So what are our alternatives?

            The issue of overpopulation is way beyond the question of demographics, it could bring together chain effects such as inequality, gentrification, and so on. The gap between the rich and the poor deepens every day as the population increases. As one might be familiar with, the largest slum in Mumbai, Dharavi went famous after the movie “Slumdog Millionaire” became a hit. Since then Dharavi, where the main location where the film was based, became a popular tourist spot for people to visit the Bollywood main fantasy land. But while tourism seems to bring in small economic prosperity in the neighborhood, it cannot solve the inherited issue of poverty in India. However, one could see it as an exposure to the wealth gap as it also shone a light on the problem of urban inequality, especially among the residents of the world’s largest slum.

            On the contrary, the very few elites of Mumbai were able to enjoy the privilege of living in high-rise buildings. The symbol of wealth is signified by the floor level one lives in as is the brand of car, the designer of the bag, and the quality of clothing one receives. Now comes the issue of how to close such a huge wage gap between the privileged and the unfortunate. According to law, when a building contractor was to engage in slum clearance to develop a new project, they are required to find new housing for those who have been misplaced due to the project development. But as most large-scale catalytic housing programs would always end up, the former residents of the Dharavi slum would end up in housing situations worse off than before. It is not merely the issue of whether the urban cities have enough housing to accommodate people, it is whether the people can afford to live certain lifestyles. There goes a proverb saying, “If you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. If you teach a man to fish, you feed him for a lifetime.” If one tries to solve the issue of unfair housing by adding more housing it would simply filter down the effect and create another slum somewhere else. The problem with “top-down” publicly or privately funded large-scale housing is that the lack of financial means of maintenance and the downward plunge of land value of the area would just drive away more and more people from the middle class and upper middle class. Creating another pit-hole of low-income neighborhoods with a supposedly better-off life than the slums, but in reality just barely living on the margins of society.

– Jun-Rong Lin

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s