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Book Review: Poor Little Rich Slum

11 September 2014

Dharavi cover_frontPoor Little Rich Slum: What We Saw In Dharavi and Why It Matters

Two middle-class Indian authors bring readers an adventure to the infamous Dharavi slum (location of the film Slumdog Millionaire) in Mumbai, weaving a tale of residents with determination, resourcefulness and spirit. Moving through the creative and frantic portrayal, we are reminded that the slum’s residents “as citizens, have the same rights to the city as we do”.

Poor Little Rich Slum: What We Saw In Dharavi and Why It Matters, a collection of stories from the Dharavi slum in Mumbai, India, intends to engage “ordinary middle-class citizens who might otherwise be repulsed by the mere mention of a slum”.

Authors Rashmi Bansal and Deepak Gandhi provide insight into the living conditions of the poor in Mumbai’s biggest slum, Dharavi, and how residents struggle to improve these conditions against all odds – through the spirit of social enterprise, innovation and entrepreneurship. The creative format, first person tone and descriptive illustrations leave the reader feeling as if you are living in Dharavi, or atleast taking an intense tour through the slum.

Accompanying photographs enhance this picture of life in the slum, and show how Dharavi’s residents perservere to overcome their many hardships. Even though some sections of the book feel a bit stereotypical of slum life, Dharavi is “an elephant of an issue with blind men scrambling over it”, proclaims Bansal. Living and working conditions in Dharavi leave much to be desired, and Bansal and Gandhi connect personal tales of the entepreneurs and social workers they meet.



workingBansal’s hoped-for context is evident throughout the book, as the chapters lead the reader through a brief introduction about the history of each protagonist, outlining who they are, where they live or lived, and where they are today. In its own chaotic way, Poor Little Rich Slum tells the real stories of the people for whom Dharavi is home, people who make Dharavi a hub of industry, people who are dedicated to raising the living standards in the slum and to giving its inhabitants a better quality of life.

Over all, this book is a must read for people who are interested in public health, social enterprise and innovation, as well as for those who have not experienced life in India, visited her slums or witnessed urban poverty first hand. Readers of Poor Little Rich Slum will come to know a parallel world, people who are living with happiness, self-satisfaction, desire and pride despite their challenging living conditions.


Author Profiles

Rashmi Bansal is a writer, entreprenuer and youth expert, selling over half a million copies of the best-selling books Stay Hungry Stay FoolishConnect the DotsI Have a DreamPoor Little Rich Slum, Follow Every Rainbow and Take Me Home. Her books have been translated into ten languages. Bansal is co-founder and editor of JAM (Just Another Magazine), India’s leading youth magazine, and writes extensively on youth, careers and entrepreneurship on her popular blog: Youth Curry. She is also a consultant for international youth research agencies, and mentors students and young entrepreneurs.

Deepak Gandhi is a management consultant, speaker and teacher in the social sector. He has worked with NDDB, Tata Steel and UNDP. Dee Gandhi is self-taught freelance photographer.

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