by Helena Horton, The Telegraph, February 1, 2018
Tourists have been offered the chance to spend the night in a Mumbai slum, in order to experience a taste of extreme poverty.
This scheme has been created to allow visitors to experience the "reality" of living under financial hardship in India's financial capital, with the "attraction" including the use of a public toilet shared with more than 50 other families.
The stay costs 2,000 rupees (£22), all of which goes to the host family.
While some have criticised the "slum hotel" for being an example of "poverty tourism", saying it treats people who live in slums like "animals in a zoo", David Bijl, 32, who runs the scheme thinks it is good for Mumbai and raising awareness of poverty.
Mr Bijl works for an NGO in conjunction with a local resident, Ravi Sansi. Mr Sansi lives in the one-bedroom home with 16 of his family members.
He told The Guardian that slums are: "part of the reality of Mumbai – not the only part, but a part", and criticised other "superficial" tours of Mumbai slums, arguing that to understand the city one has to understand the extreme poverty some in the city live in.
"Visitors come in, take a few snapshots for their Facebook page and go off without really understanding anything," he said of the slums, "I have worked in many slums and I know there is a positive impact for both sides when an outsider takes an interest in slum dwellers’ lives and how they cope by connecting with them."
On the Facebook page of the slum hotel, an advertisement says: "You'll be staying in a separate room for maximum two people (one single mattress). The family stays in a living room/bedroom/kitchen where you can go to socialise. Bathroom is shared with the family, toilets are shared with the community.
"This is a real experience and so are the pictures, not doctored or only shot from the right angles, but made to give you an honest impression of what your stay will be like."
Mr Bijl also said the scheme has been well-received in the local community, with other slum families asking if they can take part.
Jockin Arputham, president of the advocacy group Slum Dwellers International has criticised the slum hotel.
“These tours are meaningless and a stay for a night will be meaningless. These are not objects in a museum or animals in a zoo. It is a community, real people living their lives. Staying the night helps neither the visitor nor the family,” he told The Guardian.