“The best security for civilization is the dwelling, and upon properly appointed and becoming dwellings depends, more than anything else, the improvement of mankind” ~ Benjamin Disraeli
With rising price in real estate even a lower middle class is deprived of a house which he can call his own forget about the Economically Backward Class and the poor those who stay in jhuggis and jhopris. In addition, what happens when the same lower middle class who puts his life savings in a house washes out in Flood, drains out in Earthquake and get consumed in Tsunami? Back to square one, isn’t it?
Every 5 years during elections, the candidates of several parties enter our housing society seeking votes. This is the only time when our so called sophisticated Mrs. Patil, Mrs. Chopra, Mrs. Deb, Mrs. Sharma and Mrs. Iyer in synchronization complain about the slums (situated hardly 200 meters away from the compound wall). These candidate promises them with solutions of wiping out the slums. However, within half an hour you will see the same candidate consoling the slum dwellers and promising the slum development. While, both sections of the society – the building dwellers and slum dwellers seem to be contended by his reply, the problem still subsists. And mind you, this is not just the problem in my area but India as a whole. Nevertheless, it is also one of the very basic problems that is stopping India in its transition from developing to developed.
Neither we nor the Politicians or even the Government ever thought a feasible solution. Accidently, I being a blogger came across Franklin Templeton Investments page and ended up watching a video which was part of the FT Idea Caravan in association with TEDxGateway Mumbai.
$300 House is a project initiated by Christian Sarkar and Vijay Govindarajan. It all started through their blog post in Harvard Business Review and by reading the blog and watching the video, I witness many of the developing nations problems(not just housing but several others as well) including India’s vanishing off.
$300 House: Economically Perfect!
Clean atmosphere, pure water, mosquito nets, solar panels will supply the less fortunate with a proper dwelling and even enhance their standard of living. A self sufficient home will not only provide the slum dwellers with hygienic milieu but also save them from diseases and epidemics. In addition, the solar panels will help them go solar, saving maximum fuel and energy. This in return will not only help the inhabitants but also the country. While your charity might bring a temporary relief, this abode owned by the poor will be their permanent asset.
In case of a village washed out due to natural calamities, this affordable abode is not only economically suitable but also best in maintaining proper health and hygiene. Epidemics can be avoided and millions of both men and money can be saved. This can be applied all over the world including India – From flood and earthquake prone areas such as Assam, Orissa, Uttarakhand as well as Bihar to Cyclone and Tsunami affected areas of Pondicherry and Tamil Nadu such houses is a ray of hope. Besides, the house can solve billions of money that is spent in the name of rehabilitation around the globe during natural calamities when several become homeless.
$300 Home: Solution for the Social Evils
During the first quarter of the year many of the intellectuals, philanthropists, the feminist, the leaders and even the common man complained that people in the slums are the cause of all the social crimes that takes place in society. They are the ones who initiate robbery, sexual assaults, rapes and several other crimes. Well, a improper housing and unhygienic situation can disrupt man not only physically but also mentally. So, their assumption is right. However, if the deprived is given what he wants, will he switch toward crime or become a petty thief/criminal? Well, half of the problem will get solved and many would start a decent life. Wasn’t the same initiative taken in London post Industrialization when crimes flourished? Besides, proper housing not only prevented the London poor from turning rebellious but also solved the health and hygiene problem including spread of epidemics.
$300 home will not just house the deprived but also their miseries as they will now transform towards better – From being a matter of problem and a curse of society to confident human beings who are ready to contribute positively towards the society. Fully feasible and functional, the idea also executes our utopian thoughts.
$300 Dwelling: Global Initiative
Talk about $300 house and we can visualize Asia’s largest slum area, “Dharavi” transforming from worst to the best. Moreover, not just in India but in all the developing nations of the world, the theory can be applied just like the theory of light, wave and sound. From the poverty stricken Asia to the deprived Africa, all I can see people living peacefully in a modern place they can call a home. A better future together for all of us living in various part of the world – sounds like a United Nations initiative!
$300 Resident: A hope for the middle class
It has been two years since I’m planning to buy a house but everyone seems to be talking in crores. When the markets went in dark bear phase and my equity investments became less than half, I thought real estate will now go down. But, nothing of this sort happened. Real estate as usual was scaling high. Then prices of gold and rupee fell and my hope revived once again. Here again, I forgot, failure of rupee is the success of dollar and this makes the NRI’s invest more here in properties including houses which is why the price will now go up and not below. Bummer!
Nevertheless, $300 house gives hope to all the middle class people that a classy refined house can be built in less money. Let’s assume $3000 (10 times of $300 that is meant for the poor) and even they can have a nice home of their own in their affordable price. That means every month they can have extra money in hand to plan business and concentrate on many other substantiate things. No more spending the entire salary in Housing EMI. Even the thought gives us such a relief!!!
$300 Idea: A Noble Thought
There are some researches which if discovered, founded or explored doesn’t make a difference in our lives or existence. For instance, it doesn’t mean anything for us if tomorrow a person comes to us and tell us there are not 5 kingdoms but 6 kingdoms in Biology. In 1998 Cavalier Smith gave us six kingdom system (Bacteria-Protozoa-Chromista-Plantae-Animalia-Fungi) but we are still stuck to Whittaker’s 5 kingdom system (Monera-Protista-PLantae-Fungi-Animalia). The reason, well, because the discovery although is an achievement in the world of Biology, it hardly matters the human race or the world and most importantly the aam aadmi (common man). On the contrary, think of other discoveries – the light, lense, theory of frequency and waves, computer and World Wide Web. What had happened, if we were deprived of these discoveries?
$300 house is actually more of a noble thought than an entrepreneurial thought. It is a bright idea born out of profound love and affinity towards humanity – An opportunity to give all the human beings an equal chance to live hale and hearty lives!
Here’s an opening to contribute towards the betterment of the human race. Government can issue the land without hindrances, Political Parties/Leaders can promote the cause, NGO’s can support the cause and give in their volunteers, Corporate can take up the project as an innovative challenge and even earn profits as the volume would be high, citizens can move one step beyond the charities – So, are we ready to give shape to this brilliant Utopian idea?
By Deepti Verma