If you like slums so much, why not go live there?


by Sunny
12th January, 2010 at 9:30 am    

I know that Slumdog Millionaire was a good film, though it didn’t deserve to win that many Oscars, but I never thought it would encourage slum-fetishism.
Here’s some dude called Kevin McCloud in the Telegraph telling the government: ‘Forget eco-homes and look to the Mumbai slums‘.

“I’ve come back with a sense of renewed hope about how we can do that,” McCloud said. “If I have one message for developers and the Government, it’s to focus less on eco-housing and green buildings – because, frankly, we know how to do that. Let’s start focusing on the social stuff, on how we can make people happier.” His words are likely to dismay the Government, which is pressing ahead with the plans to build 10 sustainable “eco-towns” by 2020.

No, actually the government probably isn’t dismayed because only a complete idiot would tell people they should think about living in slums than eco-towns. But I suspect this is more down to the Telegraph’s own agenda against ZaNuLabour and anything ‘eco’ related.

Further commentary from Stroppyblog:

You know what won’t make people happier, Mr McCloud? 1 toilet for every 1400 people. No hospitals or public sanitation programmes. Typhoid, maleria and cholera. McCloud also brings women’s oppression into his praise of the slums: “Because women don’t have huge kitchens, they rinse their pots in the street. That has to be the most civilised, sociable way of doing the washing-up – outside in the sun, chatting to your neighbours.” Women engaging in arduous domestic labour in the streets; what a pretty picture indeed!

Do people even think before they write up these news stories or give these interviews?

That interview is actually part of Channel 4′s Indian Winter of programming, which takes this fetish to another level.
Neha says:

Of the six programmes, four are somehow or the other based on slums. And the one film is Om Shanti Om. Ugh.

Damn straight. Now, I realise India has lots of slums but there’s no need to turn them into a fetish; there’s plenty more interesting stuff to the country. This just looks like cheap, lame programming. And there’s no need to start worshipping people who live in slums – 90% of them want to escape the poverty and live somewhere with proper sanitation.


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  1. pickles

    Blog post:: If you like slums so much, why not go live there? http://bit.ly/77Btqt


  2. Sathnam Sanghera

    RT @pickledpolitics: Blog post:: If you like slums so much, why not go live there? http://bit.ly/77Btqt Kevin McCloud's naff documentary


  3. Catey Maxx

    RT @pickledpolitics: Blog post:: If you like slums so much, why not go live there? http://bit.ly/77Btqt Good post!


  4. elizabeth melvin

    RT @pickledpolitics: Blog post:: If you like slums so much, why not go live there? http://bit.ly/77Btqt


  5. Adam Fish

    (via @pickledpolitics) White guy patronises poor brown ppl, women; in other news, bear faeces found in woods http://bit.ly/77Btqt


  6. Iain Aitch

    some good crits of C4's Indian Winter http://bit.ly/7P4QXP http://bit.ly/4wvtfV




  1. Shamit — on 12th January, 2010 at 9:57 am  

    Spot on Sunny.

    Well said

  2. steve — on 12th January, 2010 at 10:27 am  

    Did you read the article?

    Kevoin is not saying lets live in slums, he is saying focus more on happiness than ensuring that all meets the needs of ecoworld.

    Kevin McCloud is not a Tory by any stretch of the imagination, and if you looked at his background you will see that.

    Note to journos and bloggers – try reading between the lines and do some research.

  3. Jai — on 12th January, 2010 at 10:31 am  

    And the one film is Om Shanti Om. Ugh.

    I agree that the majority of the programmes are focused on slums, but Neha is incorrect in her statement above. According to the Channel 4 webpage, several other films will be shown in tribute to the music of AR Rahman, apparently Jodha-Akbar and Rang De Basanti.

  4. Raven — on 12th January, 2010 at 10:33 am  

    I agree with the point about slum-fetishising – in this Channel 4 season they seem to have tried to cram in as many ‘slum’ and ‘slumdog’ references as possible in their programme titles eg. ‘Slumdog Secret Millionaire’, ‘Slumdog Children of Mumbai’ and ‘Slumming It’ all feature in this season.

  5. SEO Cost — on 12th January, 2010 at 10:43 am  

    You raise a good point.

  6. Yakoub — on 12th January, 2010 at 11:29 am  

    Well, we could easily do slums in England. Unlike much of the EU, we have no minimum requirements on room sizes in newly built houses. Hence, I live in a Housing Assoc house that could easily pass a change of use application for a rabbit hutch. I’ve seriously considered blogging on UK housing as a single issue, given I’ve spent all my adult life living in social housing. But my HA has a gagging order in its tenancy agreement. Anyone for a written constitution?

  7. neha — on 12th January, 2010 at 11:45 am  

    Jai: Om Shanti Om is a spoof anyway, and spoofs don’t go well with audiences who don’t understand the context, and Jodha Akbar was an embarrassment. Back to slums/ kings and queens again. More contrasts and more gaps. These are hardly films that represent Indian Cinema. (Well, possibly nothing does – but you can strive to achieve a balance somewhere!)

  8. Col Bloodnokk ex M15 — on 12th January, 2010 at 2:35 pm  

    When I was a nipper my mater and pater would always insist on visiting the slums wherever we went as they were so ‘colourful’ and ‘full of life’.

    I could never understand such enthusiasm and put it down to their privileged background.

    Always been one for the suburbs myself.

    Got a pied a terre in Harlesden though and go up there when I fancy a bit of rough.

    Bloodnokk
    from The Bunker
    Virginia Water

  9. Sunny — on 12th January, 2010 at 2:43 pm  

    Kevoin is not saying lets live in slums, he is saying focus more on happiness than ensuring that all meets the needs of ecoworld.

    Yes, I saw that, thanks – and did you read the thoughts he had on what would bring people happiness?

  10. Kulvinder — on 12th January, 2010 at 2:45 pm  

    some dude called Kevin McCloud

    Its Kevin McCloud man!!not some dude!! he makes building porn, and hes really good!!

    multiple exclamation marks!

    Hes obviously not literally saying lets live in slums but i don’t think he quite appreciates that sense of ‘communality’ may look and be fun whilst on holiday or making a programme but the reality is quite different, and the reality is something britain chose to leave behind,

    quoting caitlin moran tangentially but within context

    Of course, using the pub as a second domestic space goes back to the very inception of the pub. They were originally devised as some manner of universal front-room for the working classes, who were so cramped and overcrowded in their slums that they often had to wait for an aunt to die before they could return home with a new hat. In those days, the pub was often the only place you would have room to lift your elbow to drink, or strip down a car engine.

    We still admire that sense of community, but we want it on our terms, even with the pub (which as moran correctly points out is fundamentally on the way out with a middle class clientle) we want it for football matches, but the rest of the time we’re increasingly happy to slob in at home.

    Those living in incredibly intimate slums may live an admirably communal lifestyle but its forced on them – their aspirations are middle class.

    I also don’t think that architects or social planners can ‘make people happy’ by making buildings in a certain way. A more flexible work/life balance would probably have the biggest impact, and thats something out of their control.

    That all said i find any of his inputs into such matters interesting.

  11. Kulvinder — on 12th January, 2010 at 3:00 pm  

    nb regarding his views on what is essentially ‘communal living’; its something thats been discussed from day one by marxists; the largest example of it was in the soviet union, and the tensions that such shared spaces brought are interesting to read about

    i wouldn’t really expect that kind of article in the telegraph though; its more guardian material.

  12. Kismet Hardy — on 12th January, 2010 at 3:27 pm  

    I’m sick of these ‘ooh we’re looking at Indian slums and we’re wondering have they got the right idea?’ type of documentaries. Have they bollocks. They suffer, they die but ooh they’re smiling. What the fuck else are they supposed to do?

    It’s about time someone did a documentary entitled Spiritualism in India: or how I’m a middle class English person that finds poverty oh so quaint

    I went to India last month. Spirituality my bum hole. Everyone begs, cheats, suffers and dies horrible deaths. The only place I got a whiff of it was in Goa, smoking charis with a bunch of non-Indians…

    There’s nothing more un-spiritual than going to a fancy bar like Zenzi in Mumbai and ordering a cocktail for an equivilant of £9. The rich are spoilt scum, the poor are in slums. Mystical shit indeed

  13. Amit Sodha - The Power Of Choice — on 12th January, 2010 at 5:41 pm  

    I heard about the secret slumdog millionaire show and saw the trailers…does anyone else hear that bandwagon rolling in?

    Anyway, I digress. I don’t see how specifically the subject of eco towns and happiness are directly related in the first place. Happiness is a state of mind and doesn’t have anything to do with where you live. You can’t make judgments about peoples states of mind just from what you see on the outside. I’m sure some slum dwellers are happy just as some others are not. Are all wealthy people happy? No!

    Where do they get these people from!

  14. kELvi — on 12th January, 2010 at 6:51 pm  

    Thanks to Dr. Bindeshwari Pathak for not listening to the likes of Kevin McCloud. His Sulabh Shachalaya (approximates to Easy Loo) organization Dr. Pathak has constructed 10000s of pay-and-use toilets all over India and rehabilitated an equal number of custodians freeing them from the demeaning task of cleaning out privies. These women and men now make a living making papads, and running beauty salons. As the Tamizh poet Bharatiyar said, “..Only if he dips his hand in the filth can you lay your hands on food. For once how about exchanging roles?”

  15. El Cid — on 12th January, 2010 at 10:45 pm  

    He means well. :)

  16. Refresh — on 13th January, 2010 at 12:34 am  

    Kevin McCloud is worth listening to. He is not attempting to justify slums but looking at how people can live with diminished and diminishing resources.

    “We should stop looking at property as pornography or an investment, and instead think of it as our home, and that home being next to another home, and those together being part of a community.”

    That is really what he is talking about. The message is not new, but lessons need to be relearned. In a modern setting of course.

    Kevin McCloud is one of a very few presenters I can think of with any credibility on TV today. Looking forward to the program. And yes lets have more on slums.

  17. cc — on 15th January, 2010 at 8:14 am  

    Soon some enterprising slum dwellers will be offering a “slum holiday package” to rich white tourist who are fed up with their comfortable life. A once in a lifetime experience to share toilets, bedroom, infect with cholera, typhoid, etc. Whoever reads this, please can I have my 10% share when you become ~ Slum tourist operator millionaire. And all those fatties can lose weight too by drinking contaminated water !!

  18. Capote — on 15th January, 2010 at 8:37 am  

    cc is on the right lines. And Refresh is 100% right.

    I first visited Cambodia at a time when the last remnants of the Khmer Rouge were still active; by chance the guesthouse where I was staying had a travel magazine lying around with an article about Affordable Adventure Holidays and it dawned on me that a week or two with the Khmer Rouge [or the Naxalites or the Hmong Resistance in Laos] would qualify as the Adventure Holiday of a Lifetime.

    For some really lucky adventure-seekers the experience would encompass ALL their remaining lifetime.

    About urban slums in India: assuming one has had all one’s shots and is careful NOT to drink contaminated water or eat dodgy food, there’s no big problem. The BJP government in Mumbai has built water supply points and clinics for the slum-dwellers who live between the airport and the city itself.

    Same goes for Cambodia and Thailand. The “slums” are not especially dangerous or disease-ridden.

    Now I think of it, some of the “gypsies” in Mahaballipuram offer primitive accomodation to budget-conscious backpackers.

  19. damon — on 15th January, 2010 at 9:37 am  

    Praising slums is way off the mark.
    But in many places I’ve seen in south east Asia, a degree of crowding and communal living seems to produce a lively, comfortable and safe living space.
    People sit outside their shops on plastic chairs.
    Food hawkers cook up tasty cheap dishes right on the street. Everyone knows each other along the block, and everything seems to be always so peacefull. Even the cats and dogs are so laid back that they just lay down in the middle of the footpath and make people step over them.
    Of course there is poverty hardship and injustice around, but the model of living has strong merrits.
    I would much rather live in a place like where I am now (Surat Thani town in southern Thailand), than live in some soulless ”gated community” in Surrey.

    Don’t praise slums, but speak out against apartheid type walls which (I’m sure) are becoming the norm for new middle class housing developments in India.

  20. Paul Moloney — on 15th January, 2010 at 10:10 am  

    On a tangent, I can’t believe that Kirstie Allsop and that other unctious twat are allowed to do yet _another_ series of their property porn program. After all that has happened, do viewers really want to see a posh girl talk up the property market?

    P.

  21. AngryAzn — on 15th January, 2010 at 1:51 pm  

    Are you going to anything about that gora dumbass Rumbold?

  22. Smith — on 17th January, 2010 at 1:20 am  

    Because women don’t have huge kitchens, they rinse their pots in the street. That has to be the most civilised, sociable way of doing the washing-up – outside in the sun, chatting to your neighbours.

    Outside in the sun? In the UK? What is this guy smoking?

    The lifestyle of many impoverished groups may allow them to survive (barely) in warmer climates, but would kill them in colder areas, i.e. most of Europe.

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