It is known for many reasons. It has been in the limelight a number of times. Many books and films, even an international one, have used its chaotic and mucky yet mysterious surroundings as their backdrop. But, there’s more to it.

“It is a special economic zone. Not as declared by the Government, but it still is a “special” economic zone,” said Mr Deepak Gandhi, Management Consultant, teacher and co-author of Poor Little Rich Slum, while talking about the enterprising activities in one of the biggest, and certainly the most well-known slum in the country — Dharavi.

Talking about the book, authored by Ms Rashmi Bansal and Mr Gandhi, the latter said the industries in the slum keep Mumbai alive. He gave the example of the unorganised recycling business in Dharavi, which engages over 250,000 people and reportedly generates $72 million

“Mumbai depends on Dharavi, Dharavi does not depend on Mumbai,” Mr Gandhi said.

Further, Ms Rashmi Bansal, who is known for her book Stay Hungry Stay Foolish, said they stepped into Dharavi with a sense of adventure, and initially saw only the obvious — the filth. But on digging deeper they came across a number of stories of entrepreneurial success achieved through perseverance.

The book was launched by Ms Syeda Hameed, Member of the Planning Commission, on Saturday at the Literathon 2012 — an initiative by IndiaReads.

“We talk about the fall in the markets and about the global situation. But where are the growth drivers going to come from? It is the women of the country, the people in the slums who will drive growth,” Ms Hameed said.

Talking about the event, Ms Gunjan Veda, Chief Executive Officer of IndiaReads, said this is an attempt to bring students and authors closer.

(This article was published on July 28, 2012)
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