Thursday, May 10, 2007

Nagpur: Future Metros Being Groomed

The city of Nagpur is one among various being groomed as the next wave of future metropolises of India. Hopefully, some meticulous planning and design will create a new generation of melting-pot cities that are more livable and capable of sucking in the tens of millions who will migrate there to work and live. I'm strongly in favour of a melting-pot society, as opposed to our current ever-fractious, tribalized model, and big cities are the way to go for that. More people will work and live together in close contact, and will absorb culture from each other, fusing into a common Indian identity. The forging of a strong and unbreakable alloy, as Jagmohan said.

With strong urban planning, the next generation of cities will rise like new Benares, organizing the population into streamlined productive existence coupled with convenience of amenities. These engines of assimilation and advancement will convert India's vast human potential into a successful reality. There will be no possibility of wheel-jam strikes, or ethnic ghettos as no-go areas for police.

When you think about it, the teeming hyper-congestion of India's current few metropolises is due to the lack of alternatives. Rather than exclusively trying to reform these ailing giants and taking on their numerous entrenched interest lobbies, instead a second wave of cities can be prepared in order to promote better lifestyle and a promising vision of the future.

Not so coincidentally, Nagpur is the birthplace of RSS as well.


Ghost Writer said...

teeming hyper-congestion of India's current few metropolises is due to the lack of alternatives
Actually - it is best explained by a lack of an alternative economic model in rural India.

Let me add that a 'melting-pot' metropolis is not a sine qua non for cultural exchange; nor indeed is it a guarantor for such exchange. I point you to New Delhi (Jagmohan's city - no less) where in my opinion we have cultural ghettos. The great Bangla community all in CR Park; the Muslims in Old Delhi and Shahjahanabad and even that wonderfully gentle Tibetan community in the Tibetan Market area.

India has had other avenues of cultural exchange. Pilgrimages are an understudied phenomenon. They facilitated dissemination of cultural and scientific/secular knowledge and were an important institution in fostering unity - the Unbreakable Alloy you refer to. Besides, the tools of modern communication have made propagating cultural content very easy; you do not need to live in a big city to see ersatz Kathakali - you can see the real thing on TV. What has been urban India's contribution to Indian culture anyway? Borrowed cultural idioms -look at the Bollywood movies and music - all of the Anu Malik "inspired" variety, "Socialism inspired" street plays a la Safdar Hashmi and novels that fade when compared to the classics such as the Mahabharata.

Lastly - and most importantly; before high-culture can be intermingled it has to be created. Creation happens best when the people are near the land, live off it and develop reverence for it. This "melting pot" perspective is highly flawed and actually has it's roots in the feeling that an Indian dissolution will happen if languages and modes of expression multiply.

I would much rather that Indians live in villages - let one hundred thousand flowers bloom. The people will find their own way to intermingle cultures - instead of being herded in crowded city like cattle

san said...

Ghost Writer, I agree that the cities of tomorrow should not be like the cities of yesterday. The greater attention to design and planning should help in that.

But to say that Indians should continue to remain exclusively scattered in their villages is a recipe for backwardness. People learn and improve by encountering and interacting with others, and there is far less opportunity for them to do that while locked up in villages.

Village life is not the idyllic existence you're making it out to be. Since the time mankind first learned to live off the land a few ages have come and gone, including the Iron Age, Bronze Age, and the Industrial Age. If we're hoping that the Information Age is just going to magically leapfrog us by the advances of the other age, then we're going to be badly disappointed. Man doesn't live by microchips alone -- especially not with our illiteracy rates, and not when our rural masses don't have the language skills to work in Call Centres, rural or otherwise.

The population still continues to skyrocket at a destructive rate, even as people's exasperation with deprivation skyrockets, and so we're running out of time. If the people are not pulled into a more hopeful and forward-moving current, then they'll simply explode and no political system or cultural tradition will be able to contain their frustrations.

nizhal yoddha said...

which are the other non-metros targeted for growth? i like the idea of mysore and vishakhapatnam being on the list. coimbatore, maybe? surat?

i, like ghostwriter, am not convinced that this "melting-pot" business is all that it's cracked up to be. i personally prefer the "salad-bowl" model where people might mix, but retain their distinctive identities. otherwise, eg. we'll have a culture that's based on bollywood, that is urdu-worshipping and brought to you courtesy of the D company.

KapiDhwaja said...

Let me jump in with my 2 cents. From a strategic perspective, India needs more smaller cities/metros of population between 5000-10000 which are closer to the villages and in the hinterland. Right now, beside the big metros, we perhaps have maybe about 20 2nd-tier cities/metros. In a nuclear war with Pakistan/China, if you take out the about 2 dozen cities in India, we go back to the stone ages. Its back to the bullock-cart and farming, with an alien enemy ruling us for another 1000 years.

Right now all our scientific/technical manpower and intelligetsia are concentrated in the 2 dozen cities. Too many eggs in a few baskets. Too dangerous & foolish. They need to be spread out and live in self sufficient small cities/towns/villages. Someone said that India would be a developed nation, only when you get the same lifestyle in villages that you have currently in the cities. Kind of like in the US.

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