The last part of an article about Poverty Tourism, by John Lancaster.
We finished the tour on the side of a busy four-lane road, where the festive sounds of a Hindu wedding ceremony—apparently the one the potters had gone to—spilled from a gaudy tent. We paused to peek inside, and I spotted the groom sitting awkwardly beneath an enormous gold turban. No one gave us a second glance, and I had to wonder about the motives of those in the Indian media and elsewhere who claimed on behalf of the Dharavi residents to be offended by the tours. Surely their ire could have been better targeted at the municipal authorities who had failed to provide the community with basic sanitation. I wondered whether the critics weren't simply embarrassed by the slum's glaring poverty—an image at odds with the country's efforts to rebrand itself as a big software park. In any case, it seemed to me that the purpose of the tour was not to generate pity, but understanding. That's not to say that it made me an expert—I was only there a few hours, after all. Were the people I saw in Dharavi the victims of globalization, or its beneficiaries? I still don't know. But at least the question had been raised in my mind.
And what do you think? Is this kind of "tourism" really tourism? Is it a voyeuristic way of traveling, or does it benefit both the traveler and the local community?
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