Monday, August 17, 2009

Hiding slums

Sure, economists praise India for the rapid growth that has brought hundreds of thousands out of poverty. However, a story about a sporting event reminds us that a lot of work needs to be done.

India will host the Commonwealth Games next year, and instead of moving the slums out of New Delhi, India will hide them from the games. As we find out from this Dean Nelson story from the Telegraph.

The Games was supposed to be India's moment to show off its rapidly rising wealth and banish memories of a country once synonymous with chronic poverty.

But with barely a year to go officials have conceded defeat. Vast supplies of bamboo poles have been ordered from the jungle states of Mizoram and Assam to keep the poor out of sight during the games.

New Delhi is littered with makeshift slums which house the millions of migrants who pour into the city searching for work to escape the poverty of rural life in Bihar, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. Their inhabitants are often seen naked at the roadsides washing at standpipes or defecating astride open sewers.

Officials had planned to shift their settlements to the outskirts of the city so the city that television viewers and visitors see is restricted to the capital's gleaming new Metro system and world-class airport, and its smart new roads, pavements and streetlights.

But yesterday they revealed they simply could not resettle enough slum-dwellers or street-sleepers, and that they had opted to hide the problem instead.

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