POOR LITTLE RICH SLUM – A land of opportunity for many more

We can be happy, we can be hopeful, we can be enterprising – no matter where we are.

Dharavi is like an elephant of issues and blind men scrambling all over it, each sees a small part of it and considers it to be “whole”.
To the residents of Dharavi, it is a way of life. To the business man who operates in Dharavi, it is convenience, cheap labor and cheap rent makes it a mega-hub of micro enterprises.

“Idhar sab tarah ka kaam hota hai.”

Dharavi is a silent revolution of energy and enterprise, it started with arrivals of migrants from Tamil Nadu, Gujarat and UP and with them, they brought business with them. It was wide open space in Dharavi which attracted people and allowed industries to flurish.

“Jab mere dada yahan aaye the, idhar kuch bhi nahi tha…” is a constant refrain.

The book POOR LITTLE RICH SLUM by Rashmi Bansal and Deepak Gandhi is a journey into the enterprising side of Dharavi. This is the fourth book by writer, entrepreneur and youth expert Rashmi Bansal, Co-authored with Deepak Gandhi and with insightful photographs by Dee Gandhi, the layout of this new bookPoor Little Rich Slum is interesting – though the font size could have been larger.

“What makes this book stand out is the heartfelt intention and initiative of the authors and the photographer to perceive life from the point of view of the people living in Dharavi.”

Characters like Mustaqueen Bhai whose stitching work has brought him customers not just from Mumbai and other parts of India but also from Mexico, Panama and Brazil; Panju Swamy – the owner of Ayyappan Idli Stall; Rani Nadar of the ‘Rebe Rubi’ tailoring center where she “continues to sew hopes and dreams” in-spite of the fact that “Dharavi cannot be fixed with a few stitches,”; Praveen Sakpal of the Gurudutt Gymnasium whose boys have made it as bodybuilders representing district and state levels – all of them and many more such inspiring people and organizations make Poor Little Rich Slum a worthwhile, deserving read.

“Yahan sab kuch hai – paisa achha hai, log ache hain, par aasmaan nahi hai, jaan hai, jahaan nahi hai.”

Here, everything is there – money is good, people are nice but there is no sky. Life is there but there is no world.

It would be best to end the review by highlighting some of the powerful quotes in the book:

  • “A child who grows up in Dharavi may be poor but does not feel inferior.” – activist Raju Konde
  • “Education has opened our minds like a parachute.” – Mushtaq Syed, INMA Enterprises
  • “People here are not beggars, they are hard-working and self-sufficient. There is something to be learnt from us.” – Fahim Vora and Tauseef Siddiqui, Dharavi
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