India: Dharavi Slum

Dharavai, featured in the Academy Award winning Slumdog Millionaire, is one of the largest slums in India’s Mumbai with over a million residents. Poverty is widespread in Dharavi, but its residents have found ways to survive, and businesses to thrive, by doing the work that others avoid. This work is low-skill, labor intensive and dangerous, often dealing with toxic substances and with minimal safety protection. Workers are paid little, but this labor enables them to survive when they have few other options. The slum hosts an ever-expanding economy specializing in pottery, textiles, soap-making, leather tanning and recycling. Official statistics are 650 million dollars of economic activity, but as most of the businesses are not registered, the actual figure is probably several times higher. Dharavi challenges our notion of slums as sites of inactivity and indolence.

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