Why should we be proud to be Indians, or Citizens of our particular city? What is a "WORLD CLASS CITY"?

  • 25/09/2010

At a recent Interdisciplinary Group Meeting in UTTIPEC (http://uttipec.nic.in/), I gave a presentation on the path that planners, engineers and designers in the government should/ could take to achieve the World Class City goals of Delhi. It was a technical presentation on how a Planning Methodology for 'Growth and Change' needs to be prepared collectively - to achieve a common Vision for the city.

The presentation comprised of photographs, vignettes and implemented examples from various cities around India and the world, all customized to the specific needs of Delhi. For example, one can find great examples of community spirit, public self-mobilization and inclusive public spaces in cities like Mumbai; parallels of how the chaos of our culture can actually be made enjoyable and organized can be found in China; and lessons can be learnt from planning decisions made in the US over the past several decades that have made them a nation with the second highest ecological footprint and one of the most detrimental impactors on World Climate.

After the presentation, which was appreciated by most people in the room, a gentleman commented - "We are Indians. We should not try to make India into Europe, US or China. What works there will not work here. Our 'situation' is unique and we have to work within that."

This is not something I was hearing for the first time, but nevertheless, my blood boils every time I do hear it.

Luckily before me... the Chairman of the meeting, a very senior IAS officer responded first - "We are aspiring to become a 'world class city'. So we cannot say that - we are Indians and we will remain like this only.... We have to ADAPT, not Compromise."

I thought that was a fantastic answer.... but I proceeded to add some thoughts:

MY DEFINITION OF A 'WORLD CLASS DELHI': 

1. SAFE DELHI:
- A woman can walk safely after 7 pm.
- A poor car-less man can feel proud and safe walking on the street or taking public transit.

2. WELL CONNECTED DELHI:
- It is Fast, safe, easy and comfortable to move around for the 80% non-car owners of Delhi.
- Emphasis is on moving people, not private vehicles.
- Walking + public transit is made the preferred choice.

3. CLEAN & GREEN DELHI - THAT IS USABLE & ACCESSIBLE:
- All public spaces and green areas/parks are made accessible, 'usable' and safe for the young, old, rich & poor of the city.
- Landscapes are made to "work a double shift" as Storm Water Treatment machines.
- Eliminate the concept of Waste. Recycle and Reuse to the maximum...
- Reduce Emissions from Transportation and Buildings.

4. DELHI THAT ALL CITIZENS ARE PROUD OF:
- Rich and poor have ‘equal access’ to public transit and public amenities.
- Poor and rich ‘coexist’ symbiotically in communities – benefiting each other.
- All citizens feel pride and a sense of ownership for the city due to active involvement in its decision making process.

Example of Carter Road Promenade, Mumbai: Public Spaces must be common and accessible to all age and income groups... and NOT ticketed!! 
Source: Flickr.com/mfitch

The above is my definition of a World Class City. What is your definition? 

The presentation above is not the one I gave to UTTIPEC, but is prepared more for the non-technical audience. Will look forward to your thoughts and comments....

blog comments powered by Disqus