On this week's South Asia Wired, we look at how people can change the perception of poverty. We all know that poverty is there and that it's hard to eradicate, but on various small levels, people are working hard to make a difference. We hear from a tour guide in Mumbai's biggest slum and from an economics professor who says he's found many simple answers to tough poverty-related questions.
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The 2008 box office hit Slumdog Millionaire was for many people their first introduction into slum life in India. Although it was coated with a heavy Bollywood sauce the movie does capture the hustle and bustle of India’s biggest slum. Dharavi is home to over 600.000 people all living together in crammed huts in narrow alleys.
Amazingly, in all those narrow lanes there is also space to fit 15.000 single room factories. Not many people realise this, but jeans, handbags and textiles are just some of the products that come from Mumbai’s famous slum. All made in those little factories.
It makes Dharavi not the hopeless place some people believe it to be, but a fully functioning economic powerhouse. On this week’s South Asia Wired we’ll introduce you to the Dharavi that you didn’t get to see in the movie.
Krishna Poojari is one of the founder of Reality Tours. It’s a company specialised in hosting tours of Dharavi.
After growing up in one of Mumbai’s slums, Krishna now takes up to 25 people a day on this tour. As the co-owner of Reality Tours, Krishna has managed to turn his life into that of a successful businessman.
People who go on this tour get to see many other interesting business initiatives that thrive in Dharavi.
Abhijeet Banerjee is an MIT economics professor. He grew up in a middle class Indian family, but has spent most of his childhood playing with kids from a neighboring slum. From an early age on he got to see the live of slum dwellers. This has shaped him into a researcher with a very real perception of poverty.
In his new book “Poor Economics’ he and research partner Esther Duflo find new ways to come closer to the eradication of poverty. Through their work in the field, they found many simple answers to seemingly hard questions.
How do you convince parents of the need of vaccinating their children? Why would someone who can’t afford to have three meals a day, save money for a television set? In ‘Poor Economics’ the researchers come up with surprising solutions.