Archive for June, 2011

Lessons from India’s Largest Slum

Posted on June 2, 2011, by Hanna Ingber, under Business, India, International.

MUMBAI, India — Barefoot children chase each other around large brick kilns billowing out smoke. In another area of Dharavi, one of Asia’s largest slums, girls in oversized dresses wander onto piles of garbage. And in a third, a boy chases a goat with a cricket bat, near an open sewer.

Developers and some political figures look at Dharavi, centrally located in the increasingly congested city of Mumbai, and see a goldmine. They want to tear down the eyesore, move the current population into high-rises with electricity, water and sanitation and turn the bulk of the area into profitable housing and commercial property.

The architect who is behind the latest redevelopment plans, Mukesh Mehta, says the new Dharavi will benefit the current population as well as India’s economy as a whole.

“If 33 percent of [the] urban population lives in slums — they may live in sub-human conditions, but still, they are a drain on the economy,” he told CNN. “Tomorrow they start becoming contributors to the economy.”

Many of Dharavi’s residents along with activists, journalists and urban planners agree that the area needs redevelopment. They welcome the idea of bringing proper infrastructure like water and sanitation to the shanties and other informal homes there.

But they also say that Dharavi is much more than merely an unhealthy, polluting, trash-strewn slum. It is a self-sustaining ecosystem that in many ways operates quite well and serves needs not being met elsewhere.

Dharavi offers important economic, development, environmental and social lessons for Mumbai and India at large.

Continue reading and watch the video at GlobalPost.

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In India, Divorce Among the Elderly Is on the Rise

Posted on June 2, 2011, by Hanna Ingber, under India, International, women.

MUMBAI, India — The profile reads like many others: Vegetarian Hindu seeks Gujarati-speaking non-smoker to be life partner. Interests include traveling and old Hindi songs.

But unlike most men on Indian remarriage sites, this bachelor is 73.

Another profile says the woman is a divorced Bohra Muslim. She’s 4′5″, a Gemini, and her “About me” section on Secondshaadi.com reads: “Fat woman. Understanding. U can be fat or slim. No problem. Have to earn lakhs [1 lakh equals $2,200].”

This candidate for love — and lakhs — is 90.

Over the past couple decades India has seen divorce become more and more common among young, urban couples. Now, even elderly couples are doing what was once considered unthinkable: saying goodbye to their spouses after decades of marriage and moving on.

Continue reading at GlobalPost.

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