Former British prime minister Gordon Brown recently visited a project in India that seeks to end discrimination against dalits – and was shocked at the living conditions he saw in the poor Delhi neigbourhood – Bhalswa.

“I have seen many slums from my time visiting Africa and Asia, but the numbers of people packed into a very small area without proper sanitation [here] is very shocking,” Brown said.

An article in Christian Today describes Mr. Brown’s visit to Bhalswa, a poor neighbourhood on the outskirts of Delhi where many earn a living by rag picking and street vending:

“In Bhalswa, Christian Aid works with its partner the National Conference of Dalit Organisations (NACDOR), a network of grass roots organisations working across the country to empower dalits.

NACDOR is currently working with local employer North Delhi Power Ltd, a subsidiary of the Tata group, to provide training and jobs to dalit young people, many of them school drop outs.

Brown praised NACDOR’s model of engaging with the private sector to tackle social exclusion.

“It is very important that a company as prestigious as Tata is prepared to take an interest,” he said. “I hope this model can expand and I would call on other corporate business to think of joining projects such as this.”

“These young people were really fired up with enthusiasm, but were living in the most appalling conditions,” he observed.

Interviewed by Christian Aid on his return, Brown said, “In India, the truth is that if we do not provide help with education and health then it is not necessarily the case that the growth taking place is going to help those who are less fortunate.”

“What happens in the slums in the poorest country on the poorest continent can directly affect what happens to the richest person in the richest city in Britain,” he said.”

Read the article in Christian Today