If we stand on the bridge over the railway line at Sion in Mumbai, we are truly between two different worlds.
On one side is the middle class area of Sion, with its wide roads, shops filled with fashionable clothes and toys for children, Domino’s Pizza and Barista coffee outlets, and children riding their bicycles.
On the other side are the narrow lanes of Dharavi, the largest slum area in Asia. Dharavi is a mini- India, with people from all over the country living there.
When we enter Dharavi, we feel as if we have left Mumbai to enter another city.
I once had occasion to go to the Kumbharwada area, in Dharavi.
On one side of the narrow lane there were the Zopadis or hutments of the Kumbhars, or pot makers. On the other side there was a large, foulsmelling cesspool of stagnated sewage water.
It seemed that some months earlier, a sewage waste pipe had burst and the sewage water had flowed out to the side of the lane.
The pipe had been repaired, but the sewage water had not been drained off.
In the Mumbai suburb of Khar (East) between the Western Express highway and the Khar railway station, there is a large slum area. If you walk through the lanes there, you can see the flags of various political parties on many buildings.
The local social organisations or Mandals are generally affiliated to one or another political party.
I have recently read several times, in the media as well as on blogs, about how uneducated voters should be educated on how to vote.
Firstly, they could be educated regarding the need to actually cast their vote– the turn out on voting day, in upper- middle- class educated areas being on the lower side.
Secondly, they might also like a lesson in realpolitiks. They may care to learn that the voters in under-privileged areas cannot just get up and vote for the candidate or party that they like. They have to keep many other factors in mind while deciding whom to vote for.