We all know that slums are very common and abundant in the third world countries. But do we know what makes a locality to be distinguished as slum? There are various factors involved in this apart from the fact that the people in those areas are really poor and uneducated.
For one, it is unclean and unhygienic. One of my friends, who is doing a course on Environmental Science happened to take up a project on Slum areas in Bangalore. Now I know what everyone thinks. Slums in Bangalore? Impossible. But that is the cold truth. And what is worse? Those slums in Bangalore are generally tagged along a posh locality.
Initially, each family was given money by the Government to build their own houses. But most of them found the necessity to save the money and build a small house with no toilet. They did not feel that toilet and sewage system was an integral part of home. But we cannot stereotype slums on the whole. Every slum has its own characteristics. There are infrastructure complications like the way to the toilets is through the kitchen. But the Government cannot be blamed in every issue. Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day, teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.
Gandhi had once said that he wants independence later and clean India first. There are few NGOs like Sulabh Sanitation and Social Reform Movement which concentrate mainly on building and maintaining toilets in the under developed areas. They also train the public to learn to use these toilets. This helps not only to achieve the goal of clean India but also employs a lot of people to earn their living.
In most cases, the people are willing to compromise on sanitation as long as there are no adverse effects. They are ready to spend their money on television and cable bill rather than education and cleanliness. They are so culturally deprived that they are not willing to let the old people in their house to use their own toilets as they feel that they would dirty it since they don’t know how to use it. Due to this, the senior citizens in these localities use the public toilets, in turn causing unhealthy environment to live. The toilets constructed for children are primary spots for drinking and smoking and other illegal acts. And that rules out the kids’ chances of stepping into a decent life.
Where is the question of education and decent living when the possibility of basic necessities is hanging in the balance?