In this hundred and forty-seventh archive story by Kristian Bertel, we are visiting a slum in the Wadala area of Mumbai, India.
Read the background story of this archive photo by the photographer.
Slums in India are highly populated urban residential areas consisting of densely packed housing units of weak build quality and often associated with poverty. The infrastructure in slums is often deteriorated or incomplete and they are primarily inhabited by impoverished people as seen in this photograph from the Wadala area in Mumbai, India.
Slums in India are highly populated urban residential areas consisting of densely packed housing units of weak build quality and often associated with poverty. The infrastructure in slums is often deteriorated or incomplete and they are primarily inhabited by impoverished people as seen in this photograph from the Wadala area in Mumbai, India.

Slums in India

You have heard about them in movies and you have heard about them in the media, the slums in India are the squalids and the overcrowded urban street or districts inhabited by very poor people and a densely populated usually urban area marked by crowding, dirty run-down housing, poverty and social disorganization and is an integrated part of the society in India, whether we like it or not.


What is the meaning of slumming?

To visit slums especially out of curiosity broadly and to go somewhere or do something that might be considered beneath one's station.


What is the difference between slums and urban poor?
The urban poor arrives with hope and very little of anything else and they typically have no access to shelter, basic urban services and social amenities. Slums are often the only option for the urban poor. Several reasons contribute significantly to the expansion of slums. These reasons could be demographic, economic, political and social. Examples of socio-economic factors include uncontrolled rural-urban migration, informal economy or poverty. Political factors include political instability, poor planning and social conflicts.'Urbanization' refers to the population shift from rural to urban areas, the corresponding decrease in the proportion of people living in rural areas, and the ways in which societies adapt to this change.

Effects of urbanization in India
An effect of urbanization is 'Urban sprawl', where a city becomes dispersed over an increasingly large geographical area such as the Wadala area in India. This movement from higher density urban cores to lower density suburbs means that as cities expand, they often begin to take up significant tracts of land formerly used for agriculture. Urbanization occurs either organically or planned as a result of individual, collective and state action. Living in a city can be culturally and economically beneficial since it can provide greater opportunities for access to the labour market, better education, housing and safety conditions and reduce the time and expense of commuting and transportation. Conditions like density, proximity, diversity and marketplace competition are elements of an urban environment that deemed beneficial. However, there are also harmful social phenomena that arise such as alienation, stress, increased cost of living,and mass marginalization that are connected to an urban way of living




"Thousands of people live in Wadala in makeshift huts and it is cramped here and dirty and it is not uncommon for hungry rats to attack the children at night. It is here that the residents are better than anyone else how to collect, sort and resell rubbish, arouses many envious people. Because the success of one means the possible ruin of the other and everyone in the slum fights with all means for the pure existence"




Kristian Bertel | Photography not only tells the stories of the people of Wadala – he also tells of their hope and quest for a better life and the impact of western consumption on this corner of the world. More than half of the world's population now lives in urban areas, and a billion of these urban dwellers reside in neighborhoods of entrenched disadvantage – neighborhoods that are characterized as 'Slums'. Slums are often seen as a debilitating and even subversive presence within society. In reality, though, it is public policies that are often at fault, not the people who live in these neighborhoods. Urbanisation is happening at a rate and scale which is far greater than when the same process unfolded in the north. Many people living under sub-standard conditions do not have their rights as urban citizens recognised and realise that they cannot rely on formal democratic channels or governance structures for their demands to be met.

Aroused by the sights in Mumbai
In the photographs he studies how the states in India interact with and is perceived by urban slum dwellers will thus be of central importance for future political and economic development and also studies the relations between slum dwellers and the state in three cities Delhi, Varanasi and Mumbai in India. Analysing these relations both from the perspective of the state and the perspective of slum dwellers, it focuses on three core state functions – security, welfare and political participation. The photographer aroused by the sight of the children in India and accompanied by his camera explored the 'Mud districts' of Mumbai, deeply moved by the conditions prevailing there.

Impressions of India
The impressions of these trips, published in galleries on this website, are an exciting document on the urban discourse of the turn of these cities, on the hotly debated social issue and the political attempts to solve it. With the English title 'Slums in India' the photographer takes up a term in this archive story that hopefully is to become synonymous with the slums of modern cities in the English-speaking world and the viewers of his photographs gets an in-depth look at the distinctly different ways that India govern their cities and how this impacts their residents.

In his many photographs, the photographer also explores how India is governing their cities and how their different styles of governance produce inequality and exclusion. Drawing upon historical-comparative analyses and extensive fieldwork in Mumbai, the photographer investigates the ways that Indian cities manage land acquisition, slum clearance, and air pollution. In India, urban governance centers on associational politics, encompassing contingent alliances formed among state actors, the private sector and civil society groups. The photographer traces the origins of territorial and associational forms of governance to precolonial India. He then shows how these forms have evolved to shape urban growth and residents' struggles today. As the number of urban residents in India reaches beyond a billion, governing the Urban in India makes clear that the development of cities in these two nations will have profound consequences well beyond their borders.

Why do slums exist in India?
In India, the causes of urban poverty can be linked to the lack of infrastructure in rural areas, forcing inhabitants of these regions to seek out work in India's mega-cities. However, as more and more people make this migration, the space left to accommodate them becomes less and less. Urbanization is rapidly overtaking India, the two most populous countries in the world. One-sixth of humanity now lives in an Indian city. This transformation has unleashed enormous pressures on land use, housing and the environment. Despite the stakes, the workings of urban governance in India remain obscure and poorly understood.

Largest slums in India:
• Dharavi slum, Mumbai
• Bhalswa slum, Delhi
• Nochikuppam slum, Chennai
• Rajendra Nagar slum, Bangalore
• Basanti slum, Kolkata

The Dharavi slum is a city within a city, it is one unending stretch of narrow dirty lanes, open sewers and cramped huts. In a city where house rents are among the highest in the world, Dharavi provides a cheap and affordable option to those who move to Mumbai to earn their living. In cities, money, services, wealth and opportunities are centralized. Many rural inhabitants come to the city to seek their fortune and alter their social position. Businesses, which provide jobs and exchange capital, are more concentrated in urban areas. Whether the source is trade or tourism, it is also through the ports or banking systems, commonly located in cities, that foreign money flows into a country.

The Bhalswa slum is located in the area Bhalwsa Jahangir Pur, a census town in North West district in the state of Delhi, India, where a large proportion of the city's urban poor resides. It is situated next to Bhalswa 'Horseshoe' Lake and the site chosen for this competition is located to the West of Bhalswa, adjacent to the mentioned lake. The site is currently undeveloped and presents an opportunity to deliver affordable and sustainable housing to the area.

The Nochikuppam slum is an urban slum and an age-old settlement situated at the end of the Marina Beach in Chennai, which houses more than a thousand families, most of them belonging to fishing occupation and this slum has improved in terms of providing basic amenities like sanitation, providing education for girls and minimising crimes against women. However, a few things still haven’t changed. Alcohol abuse, housing facilities and communal violence continue to be matters of grave concern.

The Rajendra Nagar slum is located in Bangalore, which is also the one effected by the slum population as the habitants of the city are not ready to resettle under a flyover which is quite unsafe for them. Though the Bangaloreans refuse the existence of this slum.

The Basanti slum located in Kolkata, is a slum that primarily is a Bengali speaking slum and has been there for many decades and the slum has a number of mosquitos breeding because of an open pond in the vicinity. This has caused various diseases like 'Malaria' and 'Cholera' to the residents of the slum.

Read also:  Slum dweller in Janakpur




Read also:  Slum dweller in Janakpur

More archive stories

India is a land full of stories. On every street, on every corner and in the many places in India, life is rushing by you as a photographer with millions of stories to be told. In the archive story above, you hopefully had a readable insight in the story that was behind the photo of a slum area in Mumbai. On this website of Kristian Bertel | Photography you can find numerous travel pictures from the photographer. Stories and moments that tell the travel stories of how the photographer captured the specific scene that you see in the picture. The photographer's images have a story behind them, images that all are taken from around India throughout his photo journeys. The archive stories delve into Kristian's personal archive to reveal never-before-seen, including portraits and landscapes beautifully produced snapshots from various travel assignments. The archive is so-far organized into photo stories, this one included, each brought to life by narrative text and full-color photos. Together, these fascinating stories tell a story about the life in India. India, the motherland to many people around the world, a land of unforgetable travel moments. The archive takes viewers on a spectacular visual journey through some of the most stunning photographs to be found in the photographer's archive collection. The photographer culled the images to reflect the many variations on the universal theme of beauty and everyday life in India. By adding these back stories the photographer's work might immensely enhanced the understanding of the photographs.