The Role of Local Government in Slum Communities in India

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The Role of Local Government in Slum Communities in India
By Katelyn Hicks, Nafisa Bohra, Noah Hicks, Amber Browder, Vanessa Wong, Druha Karunakaran


Economic disparity coupled with political disjuncture poses serious political, social, and health risks to a growing population of India, especially in dense, urban areas like Mumbai, Delhi, and Surat. In an evaluation of the political history regarding oppression of the poor, few governmental programs have been successfully implemented to alleviate the burdens of the urban poor. As a result, there are many complications surrounding government responsibility in welfare, especially housing. In order to compensate for lack of efficient government intervention, non-governmental organizations, such as Society For the Promotion of Area Resource Centers (SPARC) are left struggling to help provide financial support to these unrepresented communities. Although many of the resources provided only put a band-aid on the wound, some distribution programs have proven to be useful in rural areas. However, little research has been conducted on the policies focused on urban areas, as a result of the political tensions between government and slum communities. Furthermore, education proves to be a primary deterrent in preventing slum communities from unifying and demanding government action. Along with education, adverse health effects have plagued slum communities residing near sewer systems. The needs of slum communities reflect the broader infrastructural problems associated with India’s rapidly growing economy. Lack of equal government representation will only increase political tensions between the “untouchables” and members of higher socioeconomic classes and will result in inadequate government action in alleviating the problems associated with rapid industrialization. Political disunity, both internally and externally, is detrimental to breaking the current cycle of poverty of slum dwellers. We conclude that while NGOs provide helpful solutions, their work is not enough to fix the problem, and further government legislation creating more stable sanitary and legal infrastructure is critical to break the poverty cycle.


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