Majority of the Indians live in the most inhuman conditions...
The issue of housing in the Indian context has such a phenomenal potential that tactical campaigning for it alone could bring any political party to power. But then if manifestos are any indication then one can say for sure that most of the political parties do not think likewise. For, when it comes to this basic necessity, India experiences one of the biggest paradoxes. Amidst all the modern buildings, luxury housing colonies and massive mansions, there is a beeline of slums and wrecked houses. The same city (Mumbai) that boasts of having the world’s most expensive private property worth nothing less than $2 billion and having an interior area of 4,00,000 square feet (sq ft) also has Asia’s largest slum which is home to 1 million people. Almost every year, successive Governments in their respective budgets have been announcing budgets for housing development. But then, in spite of thousands of crores being spent, hundreds of surveys and numerous policies notwithstanding, India continues to fail in providing basic dignified living to its people.
When it comes to housing, it’s just not that only homeless live in deserted conditions. Even those who have homes are not better off in any way. The fact fortifies when one goes through recent National Sample Survey Organisation’s (NSSOs) data. The survey reveals that around 32 per cent of urban houses are with area less than 258 sq ft with, on an average, 4.3 people living in a single house. The same can be reiterated for rural houses with an area of 312 sq ft and an average family of 4.8 persons. The personal living space is not even enough for one person to spread his legs comfortably. On an average, Indian houses have personal living space of less than 11.7 sq ft that includes living, sleeping, cooking and toilet!! Contrast India’s average housing area with that of US jails. Even a convict in the US gets more breathing space than what an Indian gets in his home (going by researches, a prisoner in the US jails gets a personal space of 60 sq ft with all basic amenities).
It is said that with time and economic development, the living standard of a nation also gets upgraded, but then nothing like that seem to happen in India. On the contrary things have been on a constant deterioration. Since independence, in spite of Indians moving out of cramped houses, the proportion of Indians residing in homes with an area less than 100 sq ft has increased manifold. Not just that, unlike US and other developed countries’ jails, where the convicts have access to basic living conditions, Indians have to struggle for that too. Around 60 per cent of rural households do not have access to electricity. As per World Bank reports, no city in India - till date – has been able to provide non-stop water supply to its people. Even the condition of sanitation is in complete tatters. Open toilets and open defecation is a common phenomenon as around 700 million Indians do not have access to proper sanitation.
Housing has always been an agenda on politico or socio forums. But even then nothing has been done with respect to converting slums into low-cost dignified homes. Shamefully, while convicts in the US enjoy better living conditions, even after committing heinous crimes, majority of the Indians have to spend their life in inhuman conditions without any faults of theirs'! And more shameful is the fact that this is yet not a concern for most of the leading political parties of the country! After all why would those who get exotic villas with uninterrupted power supply to stay in after winning elections would bother about the homeless?