Slum Housing Project

Slum Housing Project
Slum Housing Project

My journey with destiny started sometime back on a rather hot day in June month of 2003. I was on one of my business trips to India visiting one of our offshore facilities. Little did I realize that this visit would change my life forever. I still remember the day when I unintentionally walked up to the 5th floor of our office building in Noida at India to enjoy the sun for some time. As I stood on the roof of the building and looked at the panoramic view around, I noticed the sprawling slums of Noida at the back of our building. Squalid slums, choked drains, stench, dirt and abject poverty were suddenly in front of my eyes. Despite the gruesome sight of dirt and stench, my eyes were glued to the sight of these slums. As I looked at these slums, I was shaken at the core of my being. I realized that I had been visiting this place for many years now but had seemingly never noticed these slums. I realized that I was so lost in my pursuits for materialistic success that I probably never saw anything that did not have materialism associated with it. I realized that I had eyes and yet I could not see!

That moment of self realization made me aware of the lack of substance and the need to redefine priorities in my life. I realized that I had become somewhat myopic and selfish in view of my life and that I needed to almost relearn the sense of sight to able to sense and feel the pain around me. I realized that success is not defined by power kicks in life or by the amount of money you amass but by your ability to grow in your own mind and feel the agony and pain around you. The more I thought about it, the more restless I became. By the time, I walked down the stairs of the building, my mind was made. I wanted to change course in my life. I wanted to commit my life to the betterment of the lives of the under-privileged and the slum dwellers. The seeds of a dream had been sown in my mind and that seed led to the conception of the Robin Raina Foundation.

Delhi’s largest and oldest slums till the year 2004 were located on a three-kilometer stretch along the Yamuna River, a settlement colony called the Yamuna Pushta. In reality, the area comprised a chain of 22 small slums that gave shelter to 1,50,000 people and nurtured more than 40,000 homes. Till the year 2004, a world within a world existed in Yamuna Pushta. Schools, medical and healthcare centers, self-help groups, shops, restaurants, crèches, small businesses and various social organizations, worked closely with the community, bringing about immense positive change in the lives of the residents.

Then in the year 2004, all this abruptly changed. The urban citizens of Delhi filed a suit in the Supreme Court asking for Delhi to be cleansed of these unauthorized slum areas. The move was enthusiastically supported by the Delhi Government in the name of 2010 Commonwealth Games since it would be quite an eyesore to have these slums be visible to our guests from foreign countries. The Supreme Court decided to agree with the Delhi Government and the urban elite and ordered the immediate demolishment of the entire Yamuna Pushta area.

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  • Robin Raina Foundation, Yogdaan, Sewa Bharti