Australians who live on slumdog millionaires’ row – and love it

This is amazing.

Consumer detox ... in their bedroom-sized home.
Australians who live on slumdog millionaires’ row – and love it |

MARK and Cathy Delaney don’t need to see the hit movie Slumdog Millionaire. The Brisbane couple experience slum life in India every day.

For 13 years they have lived in the shanty towns of the Indian capital, New Delhi, raising their children and sharing their lives with the locals. Their two sons, Tom, 12, and Oscar, 7, were born in India and have lived most of their lives in slums.

The family home, in a neighbourhood called Janta Mazdoor Colony, is about the size of a typical Australian bedroom. They have no running water, no TV, no fridge and no washing machine. Two mattresses, used to sleep on at night, double as a “lounge” during the day. Meals are eaten sitting on the floor and they share with neighbours a squat toilet in a small bathroom.

But the Delaneys are not complaining. For them, living in a slum has been deeply enriching.

Laptops or mobile phones?

The OLPC versus the Mobile Phone – A False Dichotomy |

The ongoing debate over the value of cheap and open laptops for users in developing countries as opposed to mobile phones continues, most recently with a post from Cory Doctorow in the Guardian UK. The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) initiative, the most visible and audacious of the low-cost laptop projects, has been in the news recently for cutting half its staff and severely scaling back and refocusing its operations. OLPC had originally promised to promote economic development by distributing free computers to two billion children in developing countries.

Doctorow in the Guardian argues what we all believe in — that information technology is an essential ingredient to economic development. He notes:

Poverty and its associated problems – hunger, poor health, lack of education and disenfranchisement – are fundamentally information problems. Poverty is exacerbated by the high cost of discovering how your peers have solved their agricultural problems, of accessing government services, of communicating with distant relations who have gone to the city to earn on behalf of the family. Poverty and oppression thrive in situations where people can’t communicate cheaply and widely with one another about corruption, injustice and violence.

Accelerating Innovation for Development

Accelerating Innovation for Development

Innovation, the process of developing ideas into products and services, is a major driving force in global economic growth and development. Historically innovation has been done within institutions, whether companies or non-profit organizations. Innovation generally tends to be a closed process, relying on a limited pool of human resources and knowledge (albeit expert knowledge) and largely driven by companies, individual innovators or specialized research/designers rather than by those who are ultimate users of the innovations.

Innovation has been moving from a “closed”, inward-looking or “supply”-driven process to a more open and networked process: open to new ideas, knowledge, resources from outside the institutions – from external advisors, from enthusiasts (“the crowd”), from other fields, from overseas (even outsourcing is in a sense “open”), and from customers and end-users. According to economist Henry Chesbrough, creative knowledge is widely diffused, and innovation structures that support a solely internally oriented, centralized approach to research and development are becoming obsolete. Our connectivity today offers an unprecedented opportunity to harness global creativity and add value for products and services.