ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Surviving Land Grab

The Durable Slum: Dharavi and the Right to Stay Put in Globalizing Mumbai by Liza Weinstein (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press; published in India by Orient BlackSwan), pp 216, Rs 695.

It may or may not be the “largest slum in Asia”; it may or may not be special or different from other slums; but what is clear is that a “slum” called Dharavi in Mumbai survives, both figuratively and materially. How long this state of affairs will continue is debatable but even the worst case scenarios projected at the turn of this century have been proved wrong. Dharavi and its people have stayed put.

Liza Weinstein takes that as the theme for her book in which she has used the term “durable” to describe Dharavi. In many ways, this is an appropriate term. For even as the sense of what actually constitutes Dharavi has grown, from a fishing village at the edge of a swamp to a sprawling informal urban settlement spread over 535 acres in the heart of Mumbai, its ability to capture the interest of the government, academics, town planners, architects, real estate developers, journalists, film-makers and non-governmental organisations has not waned.

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