03 March, 2021

The Penumbrates

On the shining flanks of New India, its poverty is a tableau of reflections

The Penumbrates
outlookindia.com
-0001-11-30T00:00:00+05:53

The minister says that for India’s sake people should leave their villages and move to the cities. He’s a Harvard man. He wants speed. And numbers. Five hundred million migrants, he thinks, would make a good business model.

Not everybody likes the idea of their cities filling up with the poor. A judge in Mumbai called slum-dwellers pickpockets of urban land. Another said, while ordering the bulldozing of unauthorised colonies, that people who couldn’t afford it shouldn’t live in cities.

When those who had been evicted went back to where they came from, they found their villages had disappeared under great dams and quarries. Their homes were occupied by hunger, and policemen. The forests were filling up with armed guerrillas. War had migrated too. From the edges of India, in Kashmir, Manipur, Nagaland, to its heart. So the people returned to the crowded city streets and pavements. They crammed into hovels on dusty construction sites, wondering which corner of this huge country was meant for...

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