Also famous as ‘Maximum City’ (Mehta, 2005), Mumbai is undergoing a period of extremely rapid growth as a result of the booming Indian economy. While numerous multinationals are opening offices in areas once occupied by cotton mills and new middle class districts are springing up on the margins of the city, most of the population still live in shanty towns. Contrasts like these within the city show Mumbai as a particularly clear case of polarisation, which raises doubts over some current housing policies designed to raise it to the status of a ‘global city’ and to reduce polarisation by removing the shanty towns and moving the inhabitants to new neighbourhoods. The paper focuses on Dharavi and attempts to highlight the fundamental role played by informal production in the shanty towns, the losses in this sector due to the removal of the shanty towns and the possible greater polarisation resulting from these policies.
Keywords: Shanty towns; informal economy; social polarisation