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Destroyed slum echoes Indian history Years later, long after their handmade shacks had been reduced to rubble, after fresh concrete had erased the scene of so many lifetimes, they look at the place that was once their neighborhood and see the ghosts of what is no longer there. They can see Shanti Devi s little white house in a lot far from the road, where today there are only broken bricks and shattered tiles. She and her husband built it in 1947. They see the one room house where Irene Michael raised four sons, altar boys who raced on the shantytown s brick walkways, and where construction workers are now putting up sprawling new homes. They show you where the women planted mango trees and the boys played cricket. They show you where the police came that hot May morning in 2000, men in riot gear who waved in bulldozers, shot the pet dogs and shouted at everyone to clear out. It was, by nearly any definition, a slum. It was a cluster of cheap brick shacks pressed close together which flooded in the monsoons and Moncler T-Shirt With Stripes On Shoulder Black baked in the summer heat. But it was also something else. The people who lived there talk about the meticulously kept homes where more than 100 families celebrated one another s weddings and looked after each other s children. They were drivers and maids, cooks and construction workers. They were Hindus, Christians and Muslims. The lives spent in that slum trace nearly 70 years of India s history, from the chaos of independence to the challenge of how an increasingly wealthy nation copes with Moncler Women Nible Quilted Purple Tall Boots the millions left behind by its economic rebirth. Thousands of shanties are sometimes bulldozed at once. It happens because the land has become too valuable, or the slum has become an eyesore. It happens when a politician wants to push out opposition voters. In a country anxious to show how much it has developed, the demolitions underlie a vast housing shortage the politicians would rather be forgotten. Because with the economy galloping at 9 percent a year and villagers flocking to cities for work, the slums are growing ever larger. India has about 93 million slum dwellers today, up from 52 million in 2001 and more than the combined populations of France and Australia. As much as 50 percent of New Delhi is thought to live in slums, and 60 percent of Mumbai. The McKinsey Global Institute estimates that by 2030, the country s need for affordable urban housing could jump by 50 percent to a staggering 38 million households. Yet India s main urban housing plan totals less than $2 billion a year about one eighth what it spent on the 2010 Commonwealth sports games and vague promises that all slums will be gone in five years. Meanwhile, slum residents struggle against vulturous landlords, corrupt bureaucrats and an inept, overburdened legal system that gives them little recourse to justice when the bulldozers come. Just ask the people who lived at No. The neighborhood was and still is called Civil Lines, an echo of how British colonial towns were divided into military and civilian areas. Most of the residents came from just down the road, from a sprawling colonial compound that today houses a Catholic high school called St. Xavier s. But in those days it was the Cecil Hotel, an elegant colonial waystation. Diplomats, businessmen and foreign correspondents took rooms at the Cecil and stayed for years, drinking gin and tonics brought by barefoot servants and chatting away their evenings beneath gently spinning ceiling fans. Behind the hotel, though, was a different world. There, carefully hidden by high walls, were small brick shacks where the waiters, pantrymen and gardeners lived. They were people from small towns and tiny villages who had arrived early in the 20th century looking for work, as the little city of Delhi became the new Indian capital. At the Cecil they found decent jobs at decent pay. There was enough money for food, for school fees, for the occasional new sari, and new dresses for Easter. In 1947, though, everything changed. First in India, and then at the Cecil. On August 15, Britain gave the colony independence by dividing it into Pakistan and India. The two new countries were convulsed by violence as Muslims fled to Pakistan and Hindus to India. About 1 million people died in the chaos, and millions fled their homes. And new residents sometimes with permission, sometimes simply as squatters moved in. So it was on Ludlow Castle Road, where the Muslim owners of a 19th century mansion, a circular home with deep verandahs, 22 foot ceilings and five acres of gardens, had gone to Pakistan. Two middle class Hindu families, refugees from Pakistan, moved into the house and divided it down the middle. From the crowded shacks behind the hotel, the now empty gardens looked like an invitation. "There were trees and grass everywhere," said Devi, now a 77 year old widow, remembering when she Moncler Vest Down Mens Yellow Shiny Collar and her husband built their first hut there from mud and cow dung, covering it with a canvas tarp. "It felt like a jungle." First a handful of Cecil workers came, then their friends and relatives. When the Cecil closed in the late 1950s, dozens more came. The two Hindu families acted as de facto landlords, charging rents of a few dollars a month. What they created, the residents say, was a community. They built one room one story houses that leaned and curved. They painted them in exuberant colors. Over the years the mud walls were replaced by bricks, and thatch roofs by ceramic tiles. They built sidewalks that ran between the houses, and planted gardens of papayas and mangos.

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