Time and again, one gets stuck in Mumbai rains. Having spent close to 4 hours in the local train yesterday I would know better. And this is not just about one time but repeats every year. And it is not just Mumbai (which may be gets abnormal rains) but so many others. There are other regulars like Bangalore and Delhi too is getting added to the list. I wanted to say athe policymakers who make tall claims over Indian economy should be flown to these cities to be part of the logjam. However, with Delhi being a regular member now can’t even say it.
This does not mean Indian economy does not have any potential. Just that we are gloing nowhere if our cities keep collapsing like the way they do. Cities are engones of growth as popularised by Ed Glaesar. It is really bad that nothing is happening except false promises. For instance there was hardly any communication, proper lights etc. The train timing boards were not working and no one really cared. There were so many people stranded on the railway stations waiting for the next train. Finally, it is the spirit of people which kep them going. But how long can the spirit last without any support from the promise-makers?
One keeps wondering why we keep building roads before rains and then obviously they are off during rains? I mean something never make sense…Is urbanisation only about building fancy buildings? How will an economy grow if people spend more and more time on roads (broken ones at that) rather than at work..
However, as is always the case in India there is still some hope.
Why did you take up this job?
I don’t know if there is an easy answer to this. I thought I had gone into retirement, but the people who have promoted this – and (chairman of Unique Identification Authority of India) Nandan Nilekani who is also involved in this – said I should take this up, and I am also planning to shift to Bangalore. The institution (Indian Institute of Human Settlements) requires people with some experience, which I have. I thought a bit on whether, at this stage of my life, I should be taking up these executive assignments, but I thought it was worth it because the area is very interesting.
What did you find interesting about this discipline?
We all know India is urbanising rapidly and in a very chaotic manner. There are various reasons for that. But are we creating people with enough cross-disciplinary training to deal with this? When a person is taught architecture, that is all he or she learns, as in civil engineering or environmental engineering. But when you set up six towers of 20 floors each in an area, it raises a lot many questions – the question of transportation and logistics, whether the architecture is right et al. Individual experts don’t see the other side of things. Therefore, we need an under-graduate course that is cross-disciplinary. And to offer that we need a university.
We also need a lot of research and case studies in urban areas in terms of an Indian context. We need to develop a body of knowledge and some amount of consultancy, along with policy advocacy. The need of the informal sector, and what they require, is not being fed to the government. People need to be sensitised to this as it will lead to better governance. While one cannot cure all the ills you can make your own little contribution. That’s the basic idea behind this institution, which I found very appealing. But it is a very tough task.
Great to know this. Looking forward to this instiution..
Just going to Mumbai rains once again to show why this is important. One wonders why much of Harbour Line (which connects Mumbai to Navi Mumbai) was built in low lying areas? One may not be able to change central and western lines for its historic reasons..But why not harbour line which was built much later? One knows Mumbai gets heavy rains and least you could do is build anew line in low lying areas? Once you lay them in low lying areas nothing can change. The policymakers could have tried to raise the level or do something to ensure the impact is lesser. However, we have a situation where the latest laid line is the most prone to floods. It seems the various disciplines did not talk to each other nor was there any useful research before the project.
Though, hope IIHS can translate all its research/courses into practice..
It is getting so stressful to live in cities in India when urbanisation has only started…One can only get really scared on prospects ahead…I can just go on and on this…