Dharavi: A city within a slum

Posted on Oct 09, 2019 in Student Speak


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What is the first thing that comes to our minds when we hear the word ‘slum’? Perhaps poverty, deprivation, or filthy streets? Have you ever wondered how people survive in slum areas? On our educational tour to the commercial hub of Mumbai, we visited one of the largest slums in Asia — Dharavi. It is a low-rise, bustling area sandwiched between two railway lines in the heart of Mumbai.

Dharavi is an unplanned and unauthorised settlement, but it is amazing to see how lively the place is, even if the people are deprived of basic necessities like water taps and clean toilets. Most of the families live in small, one-room tenements. The roads are often dirty and full of litter, but you will be surprised to know that Dharavi is home to a large number of artisans, painters, musicians, and dancers. This is why the slum serves as an apt location for so many Hindi and International films that are shot in India. The literacy rate in Dharavi might not be very high, but the entrepreneurial talent among its people is highly commendable. During our visit and looking at the entrepreneurial spirit, we were reminded of a Hindi movie dialogue about business being the highest virtue. The quote goes something like, “Koi dhanda chhota nahi hota, dhande se bada koi dharm nahi hota”.

Even though Dharavi is one of the most densely populated places on earth, it seems like there is always space for more. When we visited Dharavi, we observed the life pattern that most of its residents follow. We entered Dharavi through a gate that looks like any other entry point. After entering, we found people pulling carts, the shopkeepers giving instructions to their staff, and common people earning their living through different means. We were astonished to see how the slum-dwellers were so resourceful and self-sufficient in their functioning. They had innovated multiple ways to improve their incomes and standards of living over time.

We understood that Dharavi is not like any other place. It seemed as if we had reached another planet altogether. The slum showcased that life can exist without wealth or luxury. We were inspired to see that the people of Dharavi continually challenge the norms of social success and lead their lives without discrimination of any kind. It gives immense hope to numerous immigrants coming to the city each day. The vibrant culture and local economy of Dharavi truly make it a city within a city.

Team Members: Aditya, Ansh, Gurdeep, Joseph, and Lakshay (Pathways World School, Aravali).


EdTerra Edventures conducts various other domestic programs for the youth. If you go to school and are under 17 years of age, ask your school to contact us to arrange a visit to your school for an introduction to the “Mumbai Magic” and other journeys under EdTerra’s India Discovery Programs.

For queries call +91-11-48885800 or visit EdTerra Browse Journeys page to know more about the programs we offer to school students. Visit our Facebook page by clicking HERE.

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