Rights to Housing: Truth-Shaping in India, Rights For Whom and Who By?

parade float with scale model of court house and court officials in session
Delhi's high court on parade in 2004 — a champion of housing rights today?

The author of the following article, Mukta Naik, describes a basic human rights dilemma this way:

“We live in a world where the truth has turned into a chimera. It is pliable and subject to interpretation. Because multiple versions of truth co-exist on any given issue, we have lost the ability to forge common understandings and move towards resolutions.”

Naik, a fellow at the Centre for Policy Research in New Delhi, is concerned about how differing assumptions of the truth about housing produces confusion and discord in a community. She bases some of her thinking upon the thoughts of the founder of modern India, Mahatma Gandhi.

The focus of her interest is the precarious position of slum dwellers in New Delhi. This in spite of a recent court decision that actually grants them rights to housing. How far does that carry them towards the stable foundation of a home, which cannot be suddenly snatched away from them?

Naik explains that the problem lies not with the slum-dwellers’ truths, nor even the court’s truth, but includes a modest host of other, differing, truth-believers who confound the problem.

Perhaps you are a potential reader of this article, but thinking it may be pointless because you live in a country that does not allow slums to exist any longer. Think again. Allow visions of homeless tent encampments to dance through your head and read on to a considerable body of useful thought in THE LEAFLET: Experiments with truth, Part 3: The moral and political dilemmas of housing rights