Well, back the subject. ‘Slumdog Millionare’.
It took a phone call from friend to drive me to watch the movie western critics are going ga-ga over. Was it a commendation ? Well, yes and no. The direction, storyline and movie was good but picturize of poverty not so much.
Hmm…Here are some facts:
The Planning Commission of India using criteria and has estimated that 27.5% of the population was living below the poverty line in 2004–2005, down from 51.3% in 1977–1978, and 36% in 1993-1994. The source for this was the 61st round of the National Sample Survey (NSS) and the criterion used was monthly per capita consumption expenditure below Rs. 356.35 for rural areas and Rs. 538.60 for urban areas. 75% of the poor are in rural areas, most of them are daily wagers, self-employed householders and landless labourers.
- Although Indian economy has grown steadily over the last two decades, its growth has been uneven when comparing different social groups, economic groups, geographic regions, and rural and urban areas. Between 1999 and 2008, the annualized growth rates for Gujarat (8.8%), Haryana (8.7%), or Delhi (7.4%) were much higher than for Bihar (5.1%), Uttar Pradesh (4.4%), or Madhya Pradesh (3.5%). Poverty rates in rural Orissa (43%) and rural Bihar (41%) are higher than in the world's poorest countries such as Malawi.
- India has a higher rate of malnutrition among children under the age of three (46% in year 2007) than any other country in the world.
- Despite significant economic progress, 1/4 of the nation's population earns less than the government-specified poverty threshold of $0.40/day. Official figures estimate that 27.5% of Indians lived below the national poverty line in 2004-2005. A 2007 report by the state-run National Commission for Enterprises in the Unorganised Sector (NCEUS) found that 25% of Indians, or 236 million people, lived on less than 20 rupees per day with most working in "informal labour sector with no job or social security, living in abject poverty."
- Today slum dwellers make up 60% of Mumbai's population, that is approximately 7 million people.
- Slum inhabitants constantly have to deal with issues such as, constant migration, lack of water, no sewage or solid waste facilities, lack of public transit, pollution and housing shortages.
If you think facts are boring to read, here are few of snippets from childhood:
1. The sanitation system shown in the movie was the only kind of system we had in my grandma's village until late 80's. More than mucky feeling, I used to fear I would ‘fall in’ someday!!
One more funny story when we are on that subject-We visited our aunt’s friend in heartland of Coorg during ’95 summer. The hundred acre betel nut farm surrounded the 2000sq ft house and the nearest neighbors were just ten kilometers away!
We arrived at their house after 12hours of driving with couple of breaks along the way. The house was beautiful with all around deck, rooms on either side and kitchen right in the middle in place of courtyard.
However, with all that grandeur there was no sanitation system at all, you just went into the woods with pail of water :-) Back to nature was their policy!
2. I have been to slums in and outskirts of Bangalore, where power, water and sanitation are a luxury. Unfortunately i've also witnessed the gruesome way people in slums bullied out, slums bulldozed down to make way for apartments in late 90's. This is was something I had watched only in movies, but to watch people who take care of your home more than you become homeless is not a pretty sight.
3. The communal riot scene in Slumdog is less horrifying than the one we watched in Bombay!
So why are people complaining that India has been show in poor light?
India, should learn to accept that in spite of covering itself with spanx of skyscrapers, highways, malls still has an ugly underbelly.
Here are some interesting reads/reviews: