“Crivens! whaur huv they skinnymalinkies come frae an what have they done tae oor plantation?”

Translated:

skinnymalink: thin person, bones and skin only.

“My goodness! Where have all these dreadfully wasted starving people come from and what have they done to our plantation?”

[skinnymalink spelled out in the phonetic alphabet.]

Illustration Friday. wilderness. What constitutes wilderness is a point of view. Often grassland, jungle, wetlands and forest are not wild at all but are managed carefully by the locals and yield a great harvest despite appearances to the untutored eye. Ask Rae Mears.

I can now say the same for the slum in Mumbai after watching a programme on UK’s Channel 4.

Unfettered Capitalism.

Slumming It with Keven McCloud is the programme (two episodes). Watch it while you can at Channel 4 UK. It is an example of seemingly unfettered capitalism — the wet dream come true for many a corporate executive — no health and safety, no pensions to fund, no insurance, no regulation and no taxes.

These slums have a business turn-over measured in the tens of millions of dollars and more than 80% of the local population are employed. Despite all this developers intend to demolish this hive of entrepreneurship to get rich themselves under the guise of getting rid of an eyesore. The indigenous population will be recompensed (only the ones who live at ground floor level)  by being moved into high density, high rise, concrete flats.

It is back to who should define a wilderness (slum). To those on the outside it is a criminal unhygienic eyesore to be feared. To those in the inside it is a booming economy with loads of jobs, safe though dirty streets, and a close knit multi generational thriving community. What they want most is a better sanitation system and less rats.

Social Scientists should get in there now and watch the community turn from a perceived problem into a real problem of crime, unemployment, drugs, family strife, social isolation — all the ills of bad multi story living we see in the West. Don’t worry it will all be hidden in tall concrete boxes and no longer spread out and visible.

I’ve spoken to a resident from Mumbai who having seen the programmes is now going to go and visit the slums despite previously being afraid to go near them.

Don’t take this information from me go and watch the programmes while they are available and let me know what you think.