Homelessness in India

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Homelessness in India has been a problem for centuries; causing the average family to have an average of five generations being homeless. Homeless people can either be described as living on the streets, in prison, in an institution, or sleeping in other places not meant to be adequate nighttime residences.[1]


According to the 2011 Census, there were 1.77 million homeless people in India, or 0.15% of the country's total population.[2]

There is a shortage of 18.78 million houses in the country. Total number of houses has increased from 52.06 million to 78.48 million(as per 2011 census). The rise, he said, has "happened because of the liberal loan given by the banks. The census figures of 2011 show that in total India has 78.87 million households in the country against which it has 78.48 million houses which means there is a shortage of just 0.39 million houses in the entire urban area. .[1]

However, it still ranks as the 124th wealthiest country in the world as of 2003.[1] More than 90 million people in India make less than $1 USD per day, thus setting them below the global poverty threshold.[1] The ability of the Government of India to tackle urban homelessness and poverty may be affected in the future by both external and internal factors.[1] The number of people living in slums in India has more than doubled in the past two decades and now exceeds the entire population of Britain, the Indian Government has announced.[3] The number of people living in slums is projected to rise to 93 million in 2011 or 7.75 percent of the total population almost double the population of Britain.[4] Prior to the release of Slumdog Millionaire in 2008, Mumbai was a slum tourist destination for slumming where homeless people and slum dwellers alike could be openly viewed by tourists.[5]


Some of the problems leading to homelessness include: disability (either mentally, physically, or both), lack of affordable housing (considering that a basic apartment in India costs approximately $177 USD per month[6]), unemployment (either seasonal or through economic hardships), and changes in industry.[1]

Jobs involving heavy industry and manufacturing (that require only a high school level of education) are being replaced by service industry jobs (which may or may not require a high level of education). Since university is less affordable for the average Indian than it is for the average North American or European citizen due to their lower per capita income level, more people in India are becoming unemployable for the jobs of the 21st century. The average per capita income for a citizen of India is barely more than $1,200 USD; compared to $54,510 USD in Canada and more than $64,800 USD in Switzerland.[7][8][9]

Child abuse[edit]

Homeless children under the age of 18 are subject to child abuse, forced labor (often involving picking up rags and sifting through garbage for recyclable materials[10]), illness, and drug addiction while being stripped of their right to education and recreation.[1] According to UNICEF, violence against children in India include neglect, emotional abuse, sexual abuse, and exploitation as the rate of child abuse increased to nearly 8000 child abuses in 2007.[11] Indian government study in 2007 stated that two out of every three children in India were physically abused and that 50% of the nearly 12,000 studied children testified one or more forms of sexual abuse.[12] The increase of child abuse in India is reasoned to be the increase of freed criminals. Other studies include that 7,200 children, including infants, are raped every year in India, and the government refuses to comment on these serial child abuses that continues in India. Many child activists believe that many other cases go unreported.[13] Many street children run away from their families after they were being abused physically and mentally.[14] When they run away from their families, hoping that they will have a better life, these children face more abuses than before including child labor and prostitution.[15] A common problem that these street children as young as 6 years face, is physical labor in which they sift through garbage seeking money to buy their food. These children do 20% of India's GDP work, garbage picking, luggage carrying and selling news papers and flowers.[16]

A growing concern[edit]

An increasing number of migrants looking for employment and better living standards are quickly joining India's homeless population.[17] Although non-governmental organisations are helping to relieve the homelessness crisis in India, these organisation are not enough to solve the entire problem.[1] Attempts at gentrifying India's problematic neighbourhoods is also bringing homelessness levels up.[18] Laws passed by the Municipal Corporation of Mumbai during the 1970s and the 1980s were held by the Indian Courts to be violations of people's right to life in addition to their right to a decent livelihood.[18] A landmark case in 1986, however, would result in the favour of the homeless masses of India.[18] The first decade of the 21st century would see 75,000 people kicked out of Sanjay Gandhi National Park with the government using a massive military force of helicopters and heavily armed police officers.[18]

About 78 million people in India live in slums and tenements.[19] 17% of the world's slum dwellers reside in India – making 170 million people "almost homeless.[1]" The number of nouveau riche in India are not enough to supplant the number of homeless people despite India's rapidly expanding economy.[17] Up to 7% of homeless people in the major city of New Delhi are women.[17] More than three million men and women are homeless in India's capital city;[17] the same population in Canada would make up approximately 30 electoral districts.

Street children[edit]

It is estimated that more than 400,000 street children in India exist.[20] Mainly because of family conflict, they come to live on the streets and take on the full responsibilities of caring for themselves, including working to provide for and protecting themselves. Though street children do sometimes band together for greater security, they are often exploited by employers and the police.[20][21]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "5.3 lakh families in the country are homeless". Indian Express. Retrieved 2012-03-07. 
  2. ^ Jha, Somesh. "1.77 million people live without shelter, albeit the number decline over a decade". Business Standard. Retrieved 12 March 2016. 
  3. ^ Page, Jeremy (2007-05-18). "Indian slum population doubles in two decades". The Times. London. Retrieved 2010-05-23. 
  4. ^ India's slum population to be over 93 million in 2011. India Vision (2010-09-03)
  5. ^ "Slum Tourism: A Trip into the Controversy". March 2010. Retrieved 2011-07-25. 
  6. ^ "Average cost of a Apartment (1 bedroom) in City Centre per month in India". 
  7. ^ "Poverty at a Glance" (PDF). World Bank. Retrieved 2010-11-18. 
  8. ^ "Median total income, by family type, by province and territory". statcan.ca. Archived from the original on 2009-05-21. 
  9. ^ "Household income and expenditure 2008". bfs.admin.ch. Retrieved 2010-08-23. 
  10. ^ "Street Children in India at I-India Online". I-indiaonline.com. Retrieved 2011-11-15. 
  11. ^ Watch, Human Rights. "India: Child Sex Abuse Shielded by Silence and Neglect | Human Rights Watch." India: Child Sex Abuse Shielded by Silence and Neglect | Human Rights Watch. Watch Rights Watch, 7 Feb. 2013. Web. 22 Apr. 2013. <http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/02/07/india-child-sex-abuse-shielded-silence-and-neglect>
  12. ^ Debbie M. "Sperry DM. Child Abuse and Neglect, Social Support, and Psychopathology in Adulthood: A Prospective Investigation. Child Abuse Negl : (2013) | Pubget." Sperry DM. Child Abuse and Neglect, Social Support, and Psychopathology in Adulthood: A Prospective Investigation. Child Abuse Negl : (2013) | Pubget. Pubget, 6 Feb. 2013. Web. 22 Apr. 2013. <http://pubget.com/paper/23562083/Child_abuse_and_neglect__social_support__and_psychopathology_in_adulthood__A_prospective_investigation>.t
  13. ^ . India, Childeren. "Children in India." - The Statistics. Children in India, 14 Jan. 2010. Web. 22 Apr. 2013. <http://www.friendsofsbt.org/statistics>.
  14. ^ "Delhi Unsafe for Children, Reports Second Highest Number of Abuse Cases." : North, News. India Today, 25 Feb. 2013. Web. 24 Apr. 2013. <http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/child-abuse-cases-delhi-women-safety-bachpan-bachao-andolan/1/251584.html>.
  15. ^ India, Times Of. "'Child Abuse Cases on Rise in City'" The Times Of India. The Times of India, 6 Feb. 2013. Web. 24 Apr. 2013. <http://articles.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/2013-02-06/indore/36949287_1_abuse-cases-child-labour-vishal-nadkarni>.
  16. ^ High, Aces Too. "ACEs Too High." Access Too High. Aces Too High, Feb.-Mar. 2008. Web. 24 Apr. 2013. <http://acestoohigh.com/2013/01/02/rape-domestic-violence-child-abuse-go-hand-in-hand-in-india/>.
  17. ^ a b c d "Reality of New Delhi at Jaffa Mood". Jaffamood.com. 2011-02-04. Retrieved 2011-11-15. 
  18. ^ a b c d "Urban planning in India at CityMayors.com". City Mayors. 2005-01-16. Retrieved 2011-11-15. 
  19. ^ "Homeless Statistics at Homeless World Cup". Homelessworldcup.org. Retrieved 2011-11-15. 
  20. ^ a b Chatterjee, A. (1992). "India: The forgotten children of the cities". Florence, Italy: Unicef. Retrieved February 20, 2012. 
  21. ^ Bose, A.B. (1992). "The Disadvantaged Urban Child in India". Innocenti Occasional Papers, Urban Child Series. Retrieved February 20, 2012.