What's new in 2012: Community

Jan 01, 2012, 09:53 IST | Lhendup g bhutia

As is evidenced by the number of glittering shopping malls and Italian, Mexican and whatnot diners, it is the moment of the Indian middle class and affluent.

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It started in 2011

As is evidenced by the number of glittering shopping malls and Italian, Mexican and whatnot diners, it is the moment of the Indian middle class and affluent. But while highrises took over slums, malls became new public spaces, and newspapers reflected middle-class aspirations in 2011, there was also a noticeable, albeit few instances of the 'disenfranchised' and underprivileged staking claim over spaces that was once theirs or were told did not belong to them. 

Meanwhile, ever since Sunday MiD DAY broke the story about slumgolf, 
one of the players, Suresh Ramesh Mehboobani (in picture), has 
become a popular face in the locality and amongst professional golf 
players in the club. "Many Sirs (professional players) donated golf sticks 
and equipment after learning about me. And our game has become 
very popular. Now we play it every week and I have seen many 
youngsters, some not even caddies, who are taking to the game," he 
says, adding, "Our golf is better than theirs (professional gulf)."

Thus in many of Mumbai's slums, especially the ones surrounding the Bombay Presidency Golf Club (BPGC) in Chembur, youths are taking up and making their own a sport strictly meant for the elite. 

Loosely called slumgolf, these youngsters use iron rods, which they twist to resemble a golf stick, gas cylinder rubber pipes to serve as grips, and Rs 5 worth plastic balls to play golf in many slums' bylanes. Once a month, these youngsters, most of who work as caddies in the golf club, meet for large tournaments, where they contribute money to buy prizes and trophies.

Similarly, in a neighbouring slum in Mankhurd, a 26 year-old Amol Lalzare works as a journalist reporting on issues in Mumbai's slums. He is part of a network of correspondents across India called IndiaUnheard who report about under-reported areas. 

Supported by the human rights non-governmental organisation (NGO) Video Volunteers (VV), many such models are springing about in the country. Mainstream channels like NewsX telecasted IndiaUnheard videos and the group hopes to break even and become a profitable venture soon. Other similar models include a group called Aapna Malak Ma, which makes news videos for  rural areas in Gujarat. 

Even members of the Dalit community are taking big steps, and groups like the Dalit India Chamber of Commerce and Industries (DICCI), a group of Dalit entrepreneurs, are going from strength to strength. Particularly promising was the May 9, 2011 decision by the Confederation of Indian Industries, which announced 'affirmative action', meaning atleast 15 per cent of all services and goods required by member companies would be offered to Scheduled Caste and Scheduled Tribe entrepreneurs.

Big hit in 2012: More spaces to claim
We will create a Dalit Venture Capital Fund by mid 2012. Initially it will be a Rs 500 crore fund, but we will later rope in more industry bodies and increase the amount. Also, we will start 50 new DICCI chapters across India. 2011 proved a great year for us; 2012 will be even greater.
 -- Milind Kamble, chairman of DICCI

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