Yes, slums are dirty, but they are also entrepreneurial hubs where India’s poor are climbing up the ladder of opportunity and income. The census report shows that 16.7% of slum households are factories, shops and offices. These are humming commercial centres, not dead-ends.
Dalit writers like Chandhra Bhan Prasad and Milind Kamble have highlighted how cities are hubs of opportunity and dignity. Ambedkar rightly denounced villages as cesspools of cruelty and prejudice. Dominant castes continue acting like feudal rulers in many rural areas. Social barriers make it difficult for dalits and shudras to raise their heads in many villages. But once they migrate to towns, they escape the caste discrimination and landowner-dependency of rural India. They earn far more in towns than in villages, and the money they send home frees their relatives from historical dependence on village feudatories.
Forget tear-jerkers about our filthy slums. Instead, see them as entry-points of the poor into the land of urban opportunity. See them as havens of dignity for dalits and shudras. See them as hubs of rising income and asset ownership, which have already generated several rupee millionaires.
This means we need more slums, more hubs of opportunity. The urban gentry want to demolish slums, but they are plain wrong. Instead we should improve slum sanitation, water supply and garbage disposal. We need more improved slums, upgraded slums, but slums nevertheless.