‘Slumdog’ Accurate on Mumbai Poverty

India is a fascinating mix of amazing facts and contradictions. Despite the many benefits that India’s privileged classes have secured after a decade of impressive economic growth, the lives of hundreds of millions of poor and marginalized continue to stagnate in poverty and malnutrition, many of them in the slums depicted in the Oscar-winning film “Slumdog Millionnaire.”

CRS Communications Officer Liz O’Neill asked Jennifer Poidatz, CRS Country Representative for India, to comment on the film.

Liz
There has been so much talk here in the United States about degree and magnitude of poverty portrayed in the film. Are the slums of Mumbai accurately depicted in the movie?

India slum

Conditions in this slum are very bad, residents live among garbage and along a polluted drainage canal. Photo by Karl Grobl/CRS

Jennifer
Unfortunately, what you see in the film is for real and in no way an exaggeration. Anyone who has flown into Mumbai during the day could confirm the size of the slums. All you see is one never-ending rooftop and houses on the outskirts teetering on the edge of embankments with heaps of garbage below. I am sure that all who see this wonder about the unmet basic needs of those living in the slums. And for those of us at CRS we think of how much more we and our partners already working in the slums can do.

Liz
Do the slums portrayed in the movie exist throughout India, or just in Mumbai?

Jennifer
In India, many automatically think of Mumbai when they hear the word “slum”. The slums in Mumbai are exceptional in terms of size and conditions and have been in existence for more than 30 years – attracting migrants from all over India in hopes of a better way of life only to find themselves living in conditions far worse than what they had left behind.

India view

A very large slum area where families sort through garbage and recycle everything from glass to plastic to wire, to paper. Photo by Karl Grobl/CRS

Liz
What is the role of CRS in India, and in Mumbai in particular?

Jennifer
CRS India supports programming in five major sectors including HIV, Disaster Management, Livelihoods Security, Health, and Woman and Child Protection – the latter focusing on anti-trafficking and anti child labor efforts.

We work through a network of committed local partners to provide access to basic services – especially for those who have not benefited from India’s impressive economic growth. This includes persons affected by HIV, tribal children who are still unable to attend school, and children in rural–often disaster prone–villages who are vulnerable to trafficking into forced labor or the sex trade.

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3 Responses to “‘Slumdog’ Accurate on Mumbai Poverty”

  1. ‘Slumdog’ Review Notes CRS Work in Mumbai | Voices of CRS Says:

    […] On Monday, CRS Communications Officer Liz O’Neill asked Jennifer Poidatz, CRS Country Representative for India, to comment on the film Slumdog Millionaire. Poidatz said that, whatever the films merits or drawbacks, it accurately portrays Mumbai slums. […]

  2. Ze Rev Says:

    I could not agree more. I was there in September and you need to absolutely see the images I took.. even of Antilia.

    Rgds,

    ZeRev

  3. Nik Says:

    this is cool

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