By Nidhi Batra
Developing world has a new pace and vigour for growth, economic rise and urbanisation. Southern Asia which is about 30% Urban already has its 59% of population in ‘Slums’. This is for sure an indicator that we are NOT PLANNING adequately. Like always, we lack vision and are taking restorative policies and actions to fix the already created ‘problem’ of urban poverty. Cities are now seen as an abode for ‘income’ generation, the opportunities, business, links and networks it offers not just nationally but also internationally is what draws more and more people to cities.
What is also interesting is how each city differs in its role in the larger global setup, the slums too have adopted a unique identity. In an interesting article by Saskia Sassen, she introduces the concept of Global Slum. For example she cites the case of talking with a particular group of garbage pickers in a Buenos Aires slum (Buenos Aires is presently undergoing urban movement for ecology and poverty) , who described themselves as “ecological entrepreneurs”: “Señora, nosotros somos emprendedores ecologicos.” They were poor, tired working men and women who subject their hands to harsh conditions and the risks of cuts and infections. But their awareness of themselves on a larger map than the miseries of the slum allowed them to knowingly present themselves as actors with a positive valence, not merely poor hopeless individuals living in utter misery. All slums tend to have garbage pickers, but most do not have this type of consciousness, and most are so tired and hungry and often ill that they barely survive. It is a certain type of slum that enables this re-positioning. Interestingly, some slums are positioning themselves as actors on global stages, often with distinct political tactics and a sort ofprise de conscience — a growing awareness that they are objects of interest to the media, politicians and a growing range of economic sectors. Catch the article at The Global City And The Global Slum
In another interestingly article, one read of how Slum is synonym with our cities – almost like a symbol or a representative image. The image of the slum has become integral to how we visualise the future of our urban spaces — and as slums increasingly shape projections of the future, two contrasting and forceful images have emerged. How has the slum come to define both an urban utopia and a crisis of modernity? The slum evidently has a dual symbolic function. For some, the future city is defined by the slum; for others, it is defined by its absence. Read the article at The slum as a symbol of our urban future
So how is it that we are visualising these pools of urban poverty, at the same time new entrepreneurs of the city? How it is that planning and civil society should deal with this phenomenon? Are slums only about lack of services or urban poverty has a much larger- hidden dimension to it? Are the urban schemes of our cities equipped to handle this phenomenon? Such are the various questions that need an immediate pondering and discussion..