C4’s Indian Winter: Slumming It (Part 1)

As part of Channel 4s Indian Winter, Slumming it which aired last night showed Grand Designs Kevin McCloud spend time in ….the Dharavi slums (which is now in the public knowledge as a result of it being catapulted to fame in Danny Boyle’s Slumdog Millionaire – the kind of expsoure no amount of news articles and research could’ve mustered up), which is viewed as an inspirational model of community cohesion and sustainable living.

Owing to the typical Western mindset, Kevin is appalled at the lack of sanitation and the banal living arrangements, with children playing amongst “toxic waste”, the waterpipe lines sitting in sewage and diseases such as cholera, typhoid and dyptheria being rife.

He talks alot about the squalor of the slums, and at one point he says to the family he is living with that “in my country cooking on the floor is considered unsanitary”. I am sure this taught Kevin a little about societal norms and ways of living…what he considered to be misery and squalor, inhabitants viewed it as “normal” because they had known only the living standards in which they were in – they had no choice.

Throughout the show, despite references to rats and lack of running water or a flushing loo – he seems genuinely enamoured with how Dharavi functions; they have their own businesses which make billions in revenue a year, unemployment is very low and so is crime.

On the other hand, poor working and living conditions and child labour were realities which were hard to escape from.

One thing which summed up the East/West civilisations dichotomy was when Kevin, in a moment of inspiration said: “We in the West measure beauty in terms of environment ” we have a nice car, a lovely garden” and here it is about human beings.  Beauty is in how they dress. Look at them, they are very smartly dressed and take pride in their appearance. They are the most beautiful people in the world”.  He noted that even amongst the “misery” of their dwellings they were happy, had a cohesive family unit and a sense of belonging. All of the things Western societies, and increasingly developing nations are beginning to lose as they ebb their way into the modern way of living.

Part 2 of Slumming It aired tonight, will pen thoughts on it tomorrow.

Posted on January 16, 2010, in Documentary, Lifestyle and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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