Rashmi Bansal is a writer, entrepreneur and a youth expert. She is the author of six books on entrepreneurship with her English-with-a-smattering-of-Hindi style of writing. This non-fiction work includes interviews with many amazing idealists and dreamers.
Co-authored by Deepak Gandhi and elegant photographs by Dee Gandhi it unusually reaches a wider audience with its layout. Thoughtful chapter titles spark curiosity amongs those who are interested in entrepreneurship, development studies, urban planning, social activism, and all those concerned with symbolic redevelopment of present-day India.
The writing includes set of Hindi sentences conversed with local residents of Dharavi into English so there is inclusion of their words and their feelings into a just read provided by book’s writer.
The 28 chapters cover a broad set of issues: descriptions of what Dharavi means to different people, the entrepreneurial drive in the slums, the NGOs and activists working for change, and the future development of the one of the world’s largest slums.
The descriptions are brief but not superficial, and the direct quotes from the slum dwellers reveal their strong human aspirations and drive.
The read gave my thoughts of Mumbai as city-lights which rise with increasing flocks of dreams (unseen and unimplemented lie locked) where people adjust with less which is really more. The tales reveal about Dharavi hutments, in which people lack neither lack space nor sleep.
They are treated as transitional housing but in reality are settlements extending for generations, which continuously fascinates social scientists who demand revolution for arrivals who never leave. These arrivals have their interventions of cutting teeth and earn their spurs subtly.
Dharavi envelops a web of human relations who push us , guide us and reach somewhere deep within, with the intent to rise above circumstances where there are no desires of old, and, new knowledge of next generation are not sieving them together.
In this book what piqued my interest …its greatest people here who bear the pain without breaking and who are born from human power HOPE with exposure to problem solvers of nation. Gift of independence to Mumbai is a slum where joining hands with agents of hope is planting seeds of change ,to create a life of their own sewing hopes and dreams, with fabric of life because they come here seeking for work whereas in other slums people go to work.
There is no yardstick to judge success of these people across disciplines, backgrounds and interests, whose acts of valor charge through bylanes of narrow minds:
Jameel Shah came to Dharavi from Bihar as a boy, and now makes dancing shoes for Bollywood stars; he has his own Facebook page also.
Fahim Vora and Tauseef Siddiqui grew up in Dharavi, went to an English medium school, and now runs “Be the Local”, a travel firm which offers slum tours of Dharavi.
Rani Nadar got an SBI micro-finance loan and now runs a tailoring shop, which trains and employs dozens of women.
Praveen founded the Gurudutt Gymnasium, which has produced award-winning bodybuilders from Dharavi, and some students who now work at Gold’s Gym.
Soaib Grewal graduated from the Rhode Island School of Design, and runs Waterwalla in Dharavi, a social enterprise for clean-water technologies in urban slums.
Srini Swaminathan, a BITS Pilani engineer, now teaches in the slum as part of Teach for India; he has devised a ‘moving blackboard’ – an apron he wears, on which students can write.
Ramji Raghavan quit a high-flying career as a banker in London to start Agastya, a non-profit organization to make science ‘fun’ and accessible, and thus build experiential learning and problem-solving skills; it also organizes science fairs hosted in Dharavi.
Walter Fischer learned acupuncture in Switzerland and China, and now runs the Barefoot Acupuncturists Clinic in Dharavi to treat victims of chronic pain; he wants to write a handbook of ‘humanitarian acupuncture.’
Hanifabi works for SNEHA (Society for Nutrition, Education and Health Action), which also advises women about their rights in cases of abuse.
Jockin Arputham was a street boy who cleaned toilets in Bombay, became an activist, founded the National Slum Dwellers Association, traveled around the world and joined the Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres; he is now a winner of the Padma Shri award.
Written by: Vinod Ranwah