I don’t want to share her name so let’s just call her G. G travels from Khadar Basti every morning in a bus ( Rs 15-20 one way) and then walks another 20 minutes to reach my house in the morning. So far so good but what if I were to tell you that she spends almost 1/3 of her earnings on transport and sometimes even more. Yes I know what you thinking. She should be staying closer to where she is working in order to save some money. This is what G is also thinking but sadly there is no affordable housing available around C.R park for the poor. Big cities like Delhi have pushed the poor on the fringes of the city. We only want them to come to our homes to work and then disappear.
G is very intelligent and entrepreneurial like most of us . She has saved some money and she wants to buy a small house. Now the problem is that all the places where she can afford to buy something nothing is organised or legal. Simply put there is no proper housing market for poor. This means she will only get possession of a small piece of land- no papers nothing. She will have no ownership rights on this land. She cannot sell it or rent it. So G has found a place a nearby Tuglakabad Village which will half her travel time. But it is all illegal. Some guy in the village has worked out a system with the police where they will let people make little shanties for as high as 2 lacs of rupees. The same guy will organise water and electricity supply into the shanty. Money will exchange hands and votes in the next election will be promised. Some day a new politician, DDA officer or Policemen will come armed with a court order and demolish everything.
This has already happened to G once. It can happen again. For someone whose household income is not more than 6-7 thousand rupees a month, 2-3 lacs is a lot of money. She can have a real asset and make life better for her family. But all she can afford to buy is illegal property.
In one of the workshops that I attended someone asked this question- why is India still so poor after so many years of independence. The facilitator answered in all seriousness that he could muster- We as Indians do a lot of hard work to make sure that the poor in our country remain poor for ever else how can we afford to have the maid and the driver and the subzi-wala. This is Make in India- we specialise in making poor.