Saturday, March 19, 2011

Hell in Mumbai

When people talk about the worst areas of India, they bring up names like Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Orissa but after yesterday I can safely say that nothing on earth compares to the hell hole called Dharavi. Over a million and a half people are crammed into living conditions that would be deemed unfit for animal inhabitation in any country.

The people who live in Dharavi recycle most of the city's cardboard, plastic and glass waste. This is just about enough to feed themselves and put children in an English-medium school but the filth and squalor can make anyone sick.

It's understandable that people are completely against getting photographed and filmed. There are enough creeps indulging in poverty porn a la Slumdog Millionaire, who profit from the misery of Dharavi's masses.

What I saw disturbed me in a way that very few things actually could. Seeing babies crawling on garbage heaps, children fighting over territorial rights and the general air of misery. The Indian Government has failed its own people in more ways that can be counted.

Before I finish this rant, I have to mention something that disturbed me the most. A so-called social activist was being interviewed by a foreign journalist. He was talking about human rights and dignity and all the usual non-sense that he didn't believe in. How would I know? Just 30 feet away, two men in their 20s were harassing an 8 or 9 year-old boy. They dangled the child over a bridge overlooking a water pipeline, threw his slippers into the garbage and then stripped him and then pocketed a few coins from his shirt. All this in full view of this lawyer and human-rights activist.

I told a policeman on the bridge about the incident and he told me in Marathi to just do my sightseeing and go back to my comfortable home.

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