23 February, 2009

The Dharavis of this World

We live in a world of much and plenty, and yet, in many parts around this World - there are millions who live in slums: in Dharavi, Mumbai, which is on about 6% of Mumbai's land but holds about 50% of the city's population; in Kibera, Nairobi, which is approximately 2.5 square kilometers only - but has a population of about 1 million people, crammed and jammed together. In Cairo, there are the Zabaleens who live in slums around the city, and toil and try to make ends meet by collecting and selling garbage; in Brazil, Mexico and across Latin America, there are the favelas where millions of impoverished people live. And here in Yemen, there are the Akhdaams, most of whom live in abject poverty and misery.

And yet, there are some and a few who have and use much of the World's resources; and who live in unbelievable abundance and excess. A few who use and waste, unnecessarily - much. A few who don't really need most of what they possess, have and use. Does this have to be so? It doesn't. It doesn't at all have to be so. Especially in Muslim countries, societies and communities; or in any country, society or community that has high moral regards and values. But it is so and is a part of life, due to Man's senseless dark side and nature of always wanting and craving for much more than necessary or needed; and always wanting to be better off materially than the rest. It is so and happens, partly too, due to the instinctive animal desire - which is still within us - to survive and live. That is: survival for the fittest.

I, and many, have never cared much for the Oscar Academy Awards; it's an occasion that's more of what America judges and perceives as the best films than what the rest of the World does; just as the Miss World beauty contests and other similar contests, are a perception of what beauty is, as defined by its sponsors and supporters - and not all of us. But this year, the Oscar awards, in a way - has managed to throw some focus and attention, positively or negatively, on the Dharavis of this World. The millions of people who live in squalor and poverty; and in dilapidated and overcrowded places with very little or no basic services. The one billion or so people who, around the World, live in slums.

Before Slumdog Millionaire, how many ever knew or heard of Dharavi? How many know or have heard of Kibera? Just as the movie brightened the lives of those few little children who acted in the film - children who come from that Mumbai slum - and made many in Dharavi happy and be filled with joy, even if just for a few moments; very hopefully too, the movie will make those of us who live in abundance and with plenty, be considerate to our own, less fortunate fellow human beings and share more of what we have. And bring smiles and joy, even to a very few people. People who are US: Mankind.