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Feb 2nd 2007

Mumbai, you need less slum, more villa

Apparently the poorest folks in Mumbai vote a lot more than the middle-upper class (70% vs. 25% turnout). Why is that?

In a word, patronage. Voters in Mumbai’s poor areas turn out to vote at the behest of slumlords, who pay local politicians’ campaign expenses and ensure they get elected through orchestrating the voter turnout.

Old-school ward politics (much like that practiced by New York’s infamous Boss Tweed) has nonetheless brought some small-scale benefits to slum-dwellers who, in recent weeks, have seen water pipes connected, toilets set up, and free biryani to boot in the lead up to the municipal elections.

Water pipes? Toilets? Complimentary rice entrées?

Puh-lease! These folks are not demanding enough.

Argentines Villeros argentinos get a much better deal from political bosses. Washing machines, construction materials and cold hard cash are just some of the perks of Peronism.

Let the call go out among the poor of India…less slum, more villa.

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