SheThePeople.TV recently hosted its Bombaywaali conference at the Cuckoo Club. A panel discussion, moderated by SheThePeople.TV’s founder Shaili Chopra, looked at the idea of the urban poor and whether Bombay is really a city where dreams can come true.
Gayatri Jayaraman, author of the much talked about essay on Bombay’s urban poor, talked about how many people come to Bombay with nothing but their dreams. “It is not just a cinematic trope. There are a lot of young women who are struggling to find places to stay. They are making it happen.”
On her essay, which talks about how millennials will often starve but spend money on items like a Starbucks coffee just to keep up appearances, she said that though people were horrified that millennials were making these choices, she doesn’t find it horrific personally. These are wilful choices, she says. That spirit of sacrifice, the adage “I will do what I have to, to make it” is what sets apart the Mumbaikar.
Devita Saraf, founder of Vu Technologies, said that in today’s world, there is no such thing as job security. “You have to market yourself, there is no such thing as safe and predictable choices. It’s a matter of survival. If you are good at something, you would rather say it yourself rather than wait for society to tell you that you are good at it,” she says.
Film reporter Rohit Khilnani added that even in Bollywood, the younger actors are showing a lot of professionalism. They are coming to interviews on time, and respecting others’ time.
Journalist Harini Calamur said that in Bombay, women have always worked and that the tradition of the working woman has always been there. The tradition of the working woman has always been around.
“I will do what I have to, to make it” is what sets apart the Mumbaikar
But Bombay as a city has changed. Jayaraman said that post-Independence, we migrated as individuals and migrated for white-collar jobs, whereas before that people migrated only after they already had a community in the city. Moreover, we have changed into neighbourhoods of affluence, not community, she said. The structure of the city has changed and the entire social fabric has changed. So young people who need a sense of belonging do other things to find their tribe.
“You have to market yourself, there is no such thing as safe and predictable choices. It’s a matter of survival.”
Devita Saraf said that nowadays people are confused. Everything is a mix. Young people are leading companies, older people are getting fired. Technology has put it all out there. We should watch and observe and not judge or put people into boxes. She also added that people need to consider themselves empowered enough to take action, and not be bystanders. Bollywood is taken too seriously, she said. They are entertainers, not leaders. We have to value those who have actual leadership.