The Urban Challenge!


India has 16 % of the world's population, but only 2.4 % of its land, resulting in great pressures on its natural resources. In a country of over 1 billion people, the needs are overwhelming. Hunger, famine, drought, unemployment, diseases and natural disasters create a nationwide climate of suffering that most people in the western world cannot begin to comprehend.

India still has the world's largest number of poor people in a single country. Of its one-billion people, an estimated 350-400 million are below the poverty line. About 50 per cent of her people are illiterate, with women, tribal and scheduled castes particularly affected. The eradication of illiteracy from a nation that is set to become the most populated in the world is by no means easy.

A few decades ago, when people moved from villages to urban areas in search of jobs, it was considered high profile. But it is not the case anymore. This migration has eventually turned out to be one of the biggest problems in cities. Burgeoning population and regional imbalance which causes such migration, forced them to settle down in extremely congested and unhygienic clusters, which acquired the name 'slums'.

Indian slums today defy any claim of increasing urbanization. 24 percent of urban population lives in slums. While civil society is concerned about potential health hazards and criminal dangers from slum population and hence demand their eviction from residential areas, interestingly they are dependent on slum dwellers for their daily needs. A vegetable vendor, maid servant, milk man, laundry or an iron man under a road side tree- they all form an important component of any urban households.

Community transformation programs like Adult literacy, Medical Clinics, Vocational training, Micro-enterprise, educational help to children, etc. are required to uplift the poor and the disenfranchised.  


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