Secret Slumdog Millionaire: Giv£ To The Ghetto
SECRET SLUMDOG MILLIONAIRE: Sunday 17th January, Channel 4, 9pm ALERT ME
Channel 4’s Secret Millionaire goes to India this week to see what poverty is really like in Mumbai.
Seema Sharma owns a string of successful dental practices and lives in a posh upper middle class part of London. She’s about as British as you can possibly get. Wanting to get in touch with her Indian roots, she ships off to Dharavi, one of the poorest slum districts in Mumbai.
Hang on a minute. Wasn’t Kevin McCloud there just the other day? Dharavi’s in danger of being a bit a tourist trap. Thomas Cook is going to start offering discount flights there any day.
Flippancy aside, it really is a terrible place. A third of people live below the poverty line, children and adults alike are reduced to rummaging in a giant rubbish tips for bits of plastic and 70% of the children there have a skin or lung disease.
It’s a problem that’s so widespread in Mumbai that it’s actually hard to get your head around. Poverty is so ubiquitous and the distribution of wealth so uneven that it’s hard to see how anyone can even make a dent in this omnipresent horror. It’s something that Seema realises too – she’s shocked and ashamed that she didn’t realise these kind of conditions existed when she visited before.
Seema stumbles across a charity organisation dedicated to providing the children of the area with food and shelter and health checks. The work of these people is inspiring and includes Annabelle, an elderly lady who’s lived and work in these poor districts for over 40 years. It’s also genuinely heartbreaking to see children living in such abject squalor and doubly so that they don’t even realise what they’re missing out on.
She also visits a mobile school, dedicated to bringing education to children if they can’t come to them. Watching deprived children learning is bound to give anyone a warm, fuzzy glow – they’re sponges for information and actually value the education they’re getting.
It would be easy to criticise The Secret Millionaire for being self serving – aren’t these people buying a feel good factor? Maybe so but does that really matter when the recipients deserve the money? Of course not.
It’d be nice if there was some follow up to find out what happened to the people she gave money to but I’m sure that’s all destined for a Secret Millionaire special in the future.