In my last article, I had dwelt on how the urban slums come to mushroom in plush locations in a highly rated city like Delhi in India. I attempt a further dissection of the process and establish how high-end politics of the land leverages on such urban slums and their inhabitants.
Urban slums primarily grow due to rural to urban migration. A subset of such migration is suburban to urban migration which is fast catching pace in cities like Delhi. This essentially implies that even suburban areas in or around cities like Delhi have started attracting population in search of better job opportunities and all such families take a bet on the big lottery that the small parcel of land that they grab or occupy would one day belong to them through government sanction. Lobbies usually build political pressures to get unauthorized slums/colonies authorized by the government sooner than later. Last Congress chief minister of Delhi had authorized nearly 800 such colonies before she was voted out of power in elections. Quid pro quo for such authorizations are usually the votes that may be cast in ensuing elections by the beneficiaries.
Once they taste urban life, where the money is about everything in daily life, migrants become intelligent and practical. Then they do have real pressing demands like water and electricity. In summers water also becomes payable while electricity is paid for throughout the year. Then, these two supplies become potent political weapons in the hands of local politicians. They convert free or highly subsidized supplies of water and electricity into strong bargaining points for votes in the elections. As of now, one can witness water tankers doing the rounds of such slums regularly, mainly when elections are around the corner. One political outfit even declared free electricity for inhabitants of such slums up to a certain consumption level. This is a good buy for the inhabitants of such slums as both save the expenditure of their small incomes as well as improve the basic standard of life for them.
However, politicians do not examine the dynamic of their poor lives deeply and solve the root cause of their pathetic existence. For instance, without enough employment opportunities, how does one permit rural to urban or even suburban to urban migration? Instead, this migration is given official labels when all such slum inhabitants quickly make their voter identification cards and become eligible to vote soon after their migrations. If you allow itinerant, irregular labour that is governed by no labour laws or associated welfare measures; you are basically inviting such labour to wallow in very hard and tough urban lives.
In short, why not fully develop suburban and urban areas with the facilities and infrastructure that are found deep inside areas of Delhi.
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