Mumbai`s Dharavi a model for UK: Prince Charles

Last Updated: Saturday, October 9, 2010 - 17:44

London: Prince Charles, who recently visited India for the Commonwealth Games, says in a new book that Dharavi in Mumbai - one of the world`s largest slums - is a model of sustainable living that British towns could follow.

Britain, he writes in his latest book, "Harmony", could learn lessons from the way people live their lives in Dharavi.

The book will be published next week. According to him, Dharavi is better organised than many Western towns and cities, and that the residents instinctively practise sustainable living, which he is keen to promote.

`The Daily Telegraph` today reported that Prince Charles is likely to attract criticism as he is out of touch by praising the way the slum has become a functioning community.

He writes, "When you enter what looks from the outside like an immense mound of plastic and rubbish, you immediately come upon an intricate network of streets with miniature shops, houses and workshops, each one made out of any material that comes to hand".

The Prince contrasts the "fragmented, deconstructed housing estates" built in the West with the "order and harmony" of the slum, saying: "We have a great deal to learn about how complex systems can self-organise to create a harmonious whole".

He adds, "The people of Dharavi manage to separate all their waste at home and it gets recycled without any official collection facilities at all. It is not done in safe conditions and few people would want to do this work - but that is not my point".

"The real lesson I took from Dharavi was about the vast asset we can call `community capital`. "The slum has built up its own financial sector, with community banking enterprises using the savings of residents to extend loans to borrowers".

The 61-year-old heir to the British throne writes in the book, "This works on the basis of personal relationships and the power of the community to ensure the creditworthiness of those who borrow (sometimes in contrast to the recently imploded financial sector in the West)."

Describing his book as "a call to revolution", he alludes to the controversy he expects to follow its publication, saying: "It is probably inevitable that if you challenge the bastions of conventional thinking you will find yourself accused of naivety".

PTI



First Published: Saturday, October 9, 2010 - 17:44

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