Senior Features Writer
Taking 'Athiti Devo Bhava' to a whole new level, we now have a family that will be renting out their slum house to tourists. The idea is to let tourists experience a 'whole new' India by letting them live in the slums of Mumbai. Ravi Tonia Sansi, along with 16 of his family members, has agreed to rent a part of their house in the slums of Santacruz, Mumbai. In order to accommodate the guests, they have made a small room equipped with a TV screen, a window AC and a mattress for the guests staying there. This initiative was taken by David Bijil who supervises the NGO where Sansi works.
According to him, this initiative is not to idealise life in slums but to help the slum dwellers financially and create a connection between the two classes of the society. The rooms will be available at Rs 2000 per day.
However, we have a little different take on this. While it's a great idea to give the economically backward a chance to be more financially stable, is this really the best way to do this?
Poverty is one of the biggest shortcomings of India, so why are we making it a tourist attraction? For years, we've cringed at how foreign press and Hollywood has chosen to always show the squalid parts of India. Now we seem to be doing the same. Instead of the rich culture, new developments - we choose to invite tourists to stay in slums so they have a 'real India' experience, to know the 'poor people, hungry people'? It's like marching back into a time when the world knew us only as the land of 'snake-charmers'.
Now, we're not denying that India still has a long way to go before we achieve healthy living conditions for everybody. But how is vacationing for a few days in a slum going to change that situation? Moments like these really make us question the route to development that we as citizens are taking.
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