I'm just back from a half day spent at one more municipally flattened area: a place at one end of Juhu called Mora Nagar. 200 houses belonging to Koli fishermen, Bombay's original residents, demolished. Boats, nets, rubble, books, papers, dogs running around, several hundred bewildered and upset people.
I will write about it all here soon. But on my way back, I started to think: from the responses I've got here and elsewhere to my writings on Ambujwadi and the slum demolition issue in general, from what others have written about it elsewhere, I know that many people approve of these demolitions.
Not just that. I also know that many people have their theories about why the demolitions are happening, why they are good for the city, who these people who lose their homes are, why they are illegal. Many people even have theories about how poverty must be tackled and the law enforced, and these slum demolitions fit in there as well.
So here's my offer to all these people who have their theories, you know who you are I'm sure: come with me -- or go by yourself if you prefer -- to one or more of these demolished slums. Sit down with the residents and explain your theories to them. Let them hear your ideas from you just like the rest of us hear them from you. Let them hear from you, just like the rest of us hear from you, why slum demolitions are good for Bombay and must go on. Do your best to persuade them of what you say, just as you write so persuasively for the rest of us.
This is an utterly serious offer. A couple of days ago, I actually made it on the phone to one such person; to their credit, this person has agreed to come with me, but after the third week of this month. I’m supposed to call closer to that time and fix a time for the trip. Just that person and me.
But yes, this is a serious offer. Who, reading this, will take me up?