Book review: Dr Uttara Singh finds slums are a transitional settlement in the fabric of urban society

NITN | @notintownlive | 11 Jul 2018

Book review: Dr Uttara Singh finds slums are a transitional settlement in the fabric of urban society

Slums are an integral part of urban society. In her book, 'Way of Life in Slums of South West Delhi', this is precisely what Dr. Uttara Singh portrays.

Generally, slums are viewed as ‘a rash on city landscape’, ‘a blot on civilization’, an unnecessary component of city life.

Dr. Singh, in this book, has promoted a constructive outlook towards slum life, by positing all the roles and functions played by this section in an urban setting.

According to her, slums should be recognized as “a ‘transitional settlement’ at that low level of survival, and to appreciate the contribution of the slum dwellers to the city’s low-wage labour force and its gross product.”

Dr. Singh’s book explores the way of life in slums as a continuous and ever-active procedure, its scope and dynamics of development in South-West regions of Delhi.

The rising necessity of ‘planning and management of slums’ have been shown through a statistical study.

The book can be viewed as a thorough study regarding the way of life in slums and the steps that should be taken to improve the conditions and living standards.

The main motive of the study is to establish the fact that, instead of seeing slums as threats to a healthy society, people should accept and appreciate them for the indispensable role that they play in the society.

In an urban city life, slums – though they are viewed as undesirable – act as a vital part, mostly as a source of the “city’s low-wage labour force and its gross product.”

The tone and language of the book is very fluid and easy to follow. This is, indeed, an added advantage, since, being a ‘social’ study, it would definitely be accessed by the common mass.

Dr. Singh’s book holds an imperative message, especially in the present scenario.

It is high time that steps be taken to improve the living condition of slum dwellers. It is not only about standards and hygiene anymore, but a question of fundamental and basic human rights. It is a mirror held to the face of India’s poverty stricken and deprived part of society.

The book is definitely a must read, not only for professional social workers but by the common mass as well.

Priced at Rs 450, the book is definitive guide for young researchers in the field. Copies are now available at, and

Reviewed by Sangeeta Chatterjee.

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