Inclusive Growth in a Mobile Way: m.Paani
Time: 5 am, Location: A Home in Dharavi, Mumbai
The alarm tone song Aai chikni chameli, chhup ke akeli… a Bollywood1 song was blaring on a Chinese mobile handset.
Sudha Deshpande, the 35-year-old, woman of the house, wakes up, looks at her ringing mobile and switches the alarm off. She picks up 5-6 empty buckets from her home and goes down the stairs to place the buckets in a long queue to fill water from a shared water connection in her basti2. It is a usual morning, as she wakes early to fill enough water for a day. However, even at 5 a m there were ten people ahead of her in the long queue of blue-red-yellow-grey buckets from different households in her locality. She cribs about her fate, abuses her neighbors and keeps her buckets, haggling her way to the 6th position. The local Municipal Corporation provides water around 10 a m, but to get enough water for her family she has to struggle daily. This was just the start of her struggle for the day as she heads back home on the first floor, which has a single room with an open kitchen.
Sudha lived with her three kids aged 6, 7 and 12 in Dharavi one of the largest slums in the world, with the populace of 1-1.5 million people and covering an area of only 1 square meter, which was not the only appalling fact of this slum. Post dealing with her first step towards her regular battle of water, she has to rush to a community washroom, where the queue is endless as there is only one toilet for 1400 odd people.3
Her kids usually went to the nearby railway tracks to attend their nature’s call, as for them it is very difficult to wake up so early to stand in line at the toilet. In fact, they actually enjoy the railway tracks.
1 Indian popular film industry based in Mumbai (Bombay)
2 Basti is a settlement of huts in a slum
3 “Human Development Report 2006 : Beyond Scarcity: Power, Poverty And The Global Crisis”, UNDP, 2006, page 37