26/01/09

mumbai is not cosmopolitan, the slums are

mumbai, and as for that matter any large indian city, bares it divisions quite openly. the world bank says more than half of mumbaikars live in slums. and the other, almost, half live in what you'd call the city- of brick and mortar and glass and marble and whatever...chawls, apartments, bungalows, homes. and nearly half a million live on the footpaths. anyone, of the articulate classes, who says he or she is proud of being a mumbaikar or a delhiite or a bangalorean usually isn't thinking of the slums (or the footpaths). and it is this other almost-half that usually engages in debates on whether the taj or the cst is the icon of mumbai, in the media and elsewhere. forgetting the slums.

that's one way in which mumbai is divided- where you live: in slums or regular homes. another way mumbai is divided: where people work.

in 1991, around 66% 0f mumbaikars worked in the informal sector- the figure could be more now. this includes people who are self-employed, from top lawyers to street corner cobblers. the world of a great majority of the informal sector workers (or self-employed individuals) is characterized, relatively, more by the kind of insecurity and deprivation that marks the life of the street corner cobbler or the bargirl or the vada pao vendor- the top lawyer or popular film star or big retailer or prosperous maufacturer, on the other hand, benefit from the unorganized nature of their customers, workers, audiences..the world at large, around them.

around 34% of mumbaikars (figure from 1991, again) work in the organized sector- for the state and central governments, public sector undertakings, large private companies run by the tatas, ambanis etc., on an average, they are much better paid, enjoy a great deal of job security..they have rights, in many senses. comparing the average organized sector employee with the average unorganized sector worker is like comparing a kendriya vidyalaya with a municipal school. or western europe with eastern europe. or..

regular homes with slums. you don't expect those who work in the mantralaya or bombay university or tata sons or reliance industries or the railways to live in the slums, do you? yet some of them do, not many. but those are mostly people who work in the lowest ranks of the organized sector employees, like some police constables, peons etc., but a great majority of them live in regular homes and neighbourhoods. neighbouhoods, where sometimes butchers are banned from setting up shop. like in some places in dadar (which means, not just muslims and christians, but around 90% of so-called hindus too are excluded from those neighbourhoods).

a great majority of those organized sector workers (check all those reports on how the dalits, obcs and muslims are represented in this sector), living mostly in regular homes and neighbourhoods, are upper caste hindus. a great majority of those working in the informal sector, mostly living in slums, are not upper caste hindus. the latter come from a wide variety of backgrounds: dalits, muslims, obcs, adivasis and some upper caste hindus. they represent indian diversity more accurately than the regular mumbai.

if the slums are not a part of mumbai, then what would remain? a recent nsso survey (2005) says 37% of urban india is upper caste hindu. so mumbai without the slums is essentially a very hindu city, shedding regional cultural impurities everyday, working, consciously (?), towards a distilled version of an idealized akhand bharat.

that's the way mumbai is divided, arundhati roy and gnani sankaran.

1 comment:

KB said...

I thought this was quite obvious and basic kuffr. Now to get our "cosmopolitan" citizens to understand it.

 
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