Nangla Machi, a self-built settlement of 40,000, was destroyed by the Delhi authorites a few weeks back. MidDay offers this moving response.
Probably over a third, perhaps more, of urban India is composed of slums, but they are everywhere regarded as non-city, an illegitimate, invalid parasite onto what a city should be, a stigma on our image.
Why are slums, so integral, so important and so economically useful to the city in its entirety always, everywhere regarded as being so not-city.
Are our conceptions of cities too idealised to accommodate its greatest reality? Do we view cities as being so non-village or non-poor that we don’t like the very idea, let alone the reality of how its poorest live?
They are in fact what our cities should be — hospitable, inventive, resilient and full of survivors and entrepreneurs. In order to save our cities we need to save our jhuggis. This is the slogan that greeted all visitors to Nangla Machi, the city that is no more.