Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Who owns the cities?

I often hear people discussing the presence of slums in big cities and find that their focus of discussion is neither the problems of the people living in the slums nor its causes but how their mere presence upsets a city’s image. This leaves me wondering if a section of the people own the cities. I understand that when Government develops infrastructure in a place and calls it a city, it is meant to provide oppurtunities for everyone. If it has some rules saying that all the dwellers of a city ought to live in pukka houses, it has to construct houses for those who can’t afford it, else it is denying them the oppurtunity. Or it shudn’t have any rules and allow people to stay the way they can and earn a living. Ya, some people don’t like the sight of slums in the cities. Even I don’t like the sight of people coming from airports after hours of happy flying when I am walking barefoot. So, how does it matter? Some might argue that they are paying money and they need to be served better. If someone has some extra ‘papers worth a transaction’ by some fortune and they throw them at the Government doesn’t mean all the problems that the Govt. and everyone else face are solved. Nobody has any right to ask the slum-dwellers to go back because they pose a problem to the image of the city. There might be concerns of health and other issues that the Govt. has to learn to deal with. Neither for the sake of foriegners nor for the filthily rich, you can dismiss the poor to the remote parts. Not untill all the places are developed enough not to give their dwellers the pain of having to part with them to earn a living. In case anyone has any problem, he/she has two choices. Face the reality and learn to live with it or get to action and help create more cities!