Monday, July 29, 2013

The $300 House

   Mom had expressed her desire to buy a new house and she asked me to find out some good apartments that met our budget.  Obeying her Order I set out to en quire about the apartments.
 I  went  to  one of the big names in real-estate industry &  asked if they can give me the details of a 2.bhk flat.I was redirected to a pretty sales executive who explained me about the facilities,  amenities and the benefits which I would derive if I purchased the flat  .After listening to her explanation I then asked her the most important question. Cost????  She smilingly replied “Sir Flats start from 1.5 core only;and go up till 4 crores”. I was dumb founded. My mind quickly calculated the available budget, my salary, future hike possibilities and the EMI I would end up paying. And the only one answer I found was “the inability to purchase such a flat “; at least in the near future.

  I then approached small builders, but the story wasn't interesting there too. I was annoyed completely. At dusk I decided to end my search and started moving towards my car. I got into the car and I headed towards my home. My mind was full of thoughts that amazed me, and filled me with awe. And In the meanwhile I got stuck in traffic. My annoyance was compounded.

  But something caught my eyes during this traffic jam that superseded the thoughts that were currently going on in my mind. …
 My eyes fell on a slum area. Since I have driven through that road many a times I had seen that slum. But I never paid any special attention to it. But that day I did. 

   My eyes made a note of the houses in that slum area. They were in  very poor condition. Mostly made of rags and poles, that literally meant no protection from sun and rains, and moreover each house sheltered (if you say so) more than 10 to 12 people. No sanitation, No bathrooms and hence poor health.”Pathetic” is how you could describe the condition of the houses.

It was quiet contrasting for me to have witnessed the two extremities of “housing” the very same day. Food, Clothing and shelter are said to be the basic needs of a person. But in this case it was sad to see people almost deprived of one of their basic needs. We always talk about development, increase in the standard of living, trained and educated manpower. But nothing is possible until and unless people get their basic needs right. If they don’t have basic needs satisfied they will never ever think of development/education.

With my mind pondering over these thoughts, I reached home. I switched on my pc with an  intent to check mails and social-networking sites. I saw a mail from #Indi blogger regarding the “Idea Caravn” Drive. It mainly consisted of the TED Videos. I started watching the TED videos by Franklin Templeton India. There were many inspiring & Motivating videos. But one video caught my attention because it complemented the chain of thoughts I had that entire day.

The video was by Christian Sarkar explaining his Project “The 300 dollar house”. The sole purpose of this project is to make sure that the poorest of the poor has a stable shelter. A “Shelter” that can ensure protection from Rain, sun and wind. A shelter that can ensure sanitation. A shelter that can ensure good health, education, to the dwellers .Basically a shelter that is a “Health delivery System “as he calls it. And the most remarkable thing is that all this is achieved at a cost of Rs 300 dollar.

Christian Sarkar also talked about  the way in which he executed the project, the massive help he got without even asking and he also showed  the prototypes. He further explained about the projects in Haiti and India.
After watching the video my mind inferred the following…

1) One advantage of this 300 dollar house is that it indirectly influences development. To elucidate—imagine a person who has a stable house, and every family member has good health. He has nothing to worry about rain/winter or health of his family members. He will then obviously invest his time in getting a better lifestyle. He will try to send his children to school. He will try to lead a life a notch above compared to what he used to do previously. And this indirectly influences the development of society.

2) Since the cost is very less, Government can easily set up these houses and get it done quickly too as compared to the previous housing schemes for poor people like the Indira Avas Yojana.

3) The 300 dollar house can also be responsible for speedy rehabilitation in places affected by “Natural disasters” like floods, Tsunami, Earthquake. The village constructed at Bihar (for flood victims) and at Pondicherry (for Tsunami victims) using the 300 dollar house is a good illustration for this.

   As I finish watching the video, I wish that the project gets good exposure and implementation. I wish Christian Sarkar and team all the best for their Endeavor and salute them for not just providing a house to the poor but for giving them a dwelling place which they can call as “HOME”.

Franklin Templeton Investmentspartnered the TEDxGateway Mumbai in December 2012.


1 comment:

  1. This is indeed a novel idea. In the past few years basic needs of human beings have become so inaccessible and scarce, it frightens me. A great idea of this decade, hope it takes shape and benefits all.