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Housing in India varies greatly and reflects the socio-economic mix of its vast population.
Housing varies from palaces of erstwhile maharajas in Rajasthan to modern apartment buildings in big cities to tiny huts in far-flung villages. There has been tremendous growth in India's housing sector as incomes have risen.
There are certain unique characteristics of Indian culture which often influence how Indian homes are organised. A common traditional structure is for the extended family to live in the same house, forming what is known in India as a joint family For instance grandparents, their sons, daughters-in-law and grandchildren live in the same household sharing the same kitchen. Brothers, sisters and cousins grow up together. Each husband-wife combination has their own bedroom. The eldest woman in the house is generally in charge of cooking. In joint families, women live with their in-laws after marriage.
With modernisation there is a growing number of nuclear families, in which each couple occupies its own house after marriage, in urban areas. It is still rare, albeit not impossible, amongst traditional communities for senior citizens to live alone. It is extremely rare even in urban areas for couples to live together before marriage. Some single young adults live in same-sex dormitories or in shared accommodation during college and the early working years.
The life-style in villages takes advantage of the warm weather. Many families bathe outdoors in rivers and ponds. Most of the day is spent outdoors around or near the house. Cooking is conducted outdoors in earthen stoves powered by organic fuels or in modern kerosene stoves. Water is obtained from hand-drawn wells. Men perform their ablutions in designated spots throughout the day; Visitors to villages may find residents squatting down for an afternoon card game under trees or while sitting on charpois (traditional hand-made beds) brought outside during the day. Consequently they use their indoor space primarily to sleep, change and, in electrified homes, to watch TV.
According to the Times of India, "a majority of Indians have per capita space equivalent to or less than a 10 feet x 10 feet room for their living, sleeping, cooking, washing and toilet needs." The average is 103 sq ft per person in rural areas and 117 sq ft per person in urban areas.
States such as Gujarat, Madhya Pradesh and others provides continuous power supply. Some 400 million Indians do not have access to a proper toilet and the situation is even worse in slums across Indian cities.
The national and state governments are running programs, some funded by the World Bank, to improve conditions. Bharat Nirman is targeting clean water, the Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission is building public toilets and sewage systems. The private sector, including companies such as Tata, have started to enter the low-income residential projects.
In 2013, the Government of India and National Housing Bank borrowed US $100 million to fund their Low Income Housing Finance project. The money will be loaned to low income residents who wish to purchase or renovate a home.
Mumbai experiences similar urbanisation challenges as other fast growing cities in developing countries: wide disparities in housing between the affluent, middle-income and low-income segments of the population.
Highly desirable neighbourhoods such as Colaba, Malabar Hill, Marine Drive, Bandra and Juhu house professionals, industrialists, Bollywood movie stars and expatriates. Up-scale flats have 3 or more bedrooms, ocean views, tasteful interior decoration, parking for luxury cars and sleeping quarters for maids and cooks. . In 2007, Mumbai condominiums were the priciest in the developing world at around US$9,000 to US$10,200 per square metre. Mumbai has more than 1,500 high rise buildings, many of which are just planned, but some already constructed or under construction.
Despite the recent economic growth, there is still vast poverty, unemployment and therefore poor housing conditions for a huge section of the population. With available space at a premium, working-class Mumbai residents often reside in cramped and poor quality, yet relatively expensive housing, usually far from workplaces. Despite this, Mumbai's economic boom continues to attract migrants in search of opportunities from across the country. The number of migrants to Mumbai from outside Maharashtra during the 1991–2001 decade was 1.12 million, which amounted to 54.8% of the net addition to the population of Mumbai.
Over 9 million people, over 60% of the population of Mumbai, live in informal housing or slums, yet they cover only 6–8% of the city's land area. Slum growth rate in Mumbai is greater than the general urban growth rate. Financial Times writes that "Dharavi is the grand panjandrum of the Mumbai slums". Dharavi, Asia's second largest slum is located in central Mumbai and houses over 1 million people. Slums are a growing tourist attraction in Mumbai.
Most of the remaining live in chawls and on footpaths. Chawls are a quintessentially Mumbai phenomenon of multi-storied terrible quality tenements, typically a bit higher quality than slums. 80 per cent of chawls have only one room. Pavement dwellers refers to Mumbai dwellings built on the footpaths/pavements of city streets.
With rising incomes, many residents of slums and chawls now have modern amenities such as mobile phones, access to electricity, often illegally, and television.
Delhi has witnessed rapid suburban growth over the past decade. South Delhi, Gurgaon and Noida have added thousands of apartment buildings, houses, shopping centres and highways. New Delhi's famous Lutyens bungalows house the prime minister, members of his cabinet, top political and government leaders, military officials, senior judges and top bureaucrats. New Delhi is also home to thousands of diplomatic staff of foreign countries and the United Nations. With India's growth, Delhi has developed into a business centre, especially for outsourcing, IT consultancy, high-tech, research, education and health care services. Employees of these institutions are the source of growing demand for high-end housing provided by major builders such as DLF.
Roughly 18.7% of Delhi's population lives in slums, according to 2001 government statistics.
In the 1990s the information technology boom hit Bangalore. Y2K projects in America's IT industry resulted in shortages for skilled computer scientists and systems programmers. Bangalore has transformed into the Silicon Valley of India as over 500,000 well-paying jobs for young college graduates were created. The demographics of the city changed, new high-rise residential buildings were built, campus-style office parks sprouted, vast shopping centres started to thrive, streets became crowded with new cars and gated expatriate housing estates emerged.
Roughly 3% of Bangalore's population lives in slums.
The most sought-after neighbourhoods of Calcutta are generally centred around Park Street, Camac Street, Lower Circular Road, Sarat Bose Road, Salt Lake, Ballygunge, Anwar Shah Road, Chowringhee and Golf Green. A recent building boom has converted sprawling British-era bungalows into high-rise condominiums and apartment-buildings with modern amenities. Kolkata currently has the second most number of highrises and tall buildings in the country, second only to Mumbai. The highest of them is at 50 floors (under construction). New suburbs are constantly being developed in Rajarhat and along the Eastern Metropolitan Bypass. Once completed, these suburbs shall consist partially of major condominiums, complete with penthouses, many designed primarily for NRIs, expats and wealthier residents. Avani is also a major builder. The tallest buildings in the city, The South City Towers, are also condominiums.
North Calcutta contains mansions built in the early 20th century during Calcutta's heyday as capital of British India, which covered all of South Asia plus Burma and Aden. These buildings include a courtyard surrounded by balconies, large rooms with tall ceilings, marble floors, tall pillars and crumbling artwork. Most of them are poorly maintained. The Marble Palace and other buildings received "heritage status" which provides them municipal funds and incentives to repair and restore. These mansions serve as reminder of the era of Bengali Renaissance when Tagore's music and dance graced the living rooms of wealthy Bengali merchants.
In Chennai, houses are generally quite modernised. A basic single, or sometimes double, occupation flat in Chennai consist of Single bedroom with hall, kitchen and attached washroom. This ranges from 1BH to 5BH even 8BH. According to the survey, carried out by the census in 2011, Chennai is one of the cities in India which have very low slum population.The survey reported that as low as 10% of the slum population is present in India. Chennai is the second largest city which has very low slum population, preceded by Bangalore.
In Hyderabad, housing in modern ages in the 21st century is more modernised and developed than it has been in the past. The housing sector in Hyderabad has relatively sophisticated infrastructure. and is suitable for gated communities and villas, as well as higher-standard flats and condominiums. Hyderabad is home to several skyscrapers, including The Botanika, Lodha Belezza, etc. Many residential infrastructure companies are well-established in Hyderabad.
In general India's crime rates trails those of other developing countries. There is a large developed housing market with major builders and promoters. Some municipal and other government officials, elected politicians, real estate developers and a few law enforcement officials, acquire, develop and sell land in illegal ways. Sometimes, government land or land ostensibly acquired for some legitimate government purpose is then handed over to real estate developers who build commercial and residential properties and sell them in the open market, with the connivance of a small section of the administrative and police officials. In one set of allegations in Karnataka, a lake was filled in and government buildings torn down after illegal transfers to a developer by mafia-connected officials. Eminent domain laws, intended to procure private land at relatively low prices for public benefit or redistribution to poorer people under social justice programs, are abused to pressure existing landholders to sell land to a government entity, which transfers the land to developers at those low prices, and who in turn sell it back on the market at much higher prices.
Corruption is sometimes a reaction to well-meaning social activists' opposition to development. Environmentalists, "not in my backyard" activists and court cases slow down the ability to expand housing. The computerisation of records relating to the classification of tracts and land ownership is a key tool in countering the illegal activities of land mafias, since it creates transparency on all information relating to a given parcel of land. This approach has been effective in Bangalore, but efforts to extend it elsewhere have sometimes met with strong resistance by land mafias, manifesting itself as bureaucratic inaction.
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