Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts with the label IndiaCitiesseries

Cities in India – Part III

In this Series: Part I , Part II Today whether you visit Mumbai or Dehradun the same scene awaits you – traffic bursting from the seams, lack of amenities, overcrowded public transport (whether it is the Mumbai local, the tempo in Dehradun or shared-rickshaw in Vadodara). Why has this happened? Clearly, we have never looked at our cities in a scientific and organized fashion, our cities emerged just like other countries, as centres of trade. However, cities which should have evolved gradually underwent destruction and a military set-up was imposed on them. Today are imposing a commercial infrastructure over the same military set-up creating a further confused landscape on one hand and choking the amenities and resources on the other. What can we do to solve these problems? I have few thoughts in mind: Macro level We should de-congest existing cities by shifting out industries from them to newer, better planned cities (for example the way industries were moved from Mumbai to

Cities in India – Part II

While it is well known that the British came to India under the pretext of trade, beyond a brief period of 15 years (1757-1773), the British government assumed full control over the system. To maintain their rule, British needed to control the masses, zamindars and the local kings – and for this they needed the army to be strong. So on one hand they developed infrastructure like the railways (for speedy movement of troops), on the other hand they imposed a military set-up on the major cities in India. And thus emerged cities like Dehradun, Jabalpur, Bangalore, Poona etc - as military cantonments rather than centers of trade. These cities were also built as typical British towns – a town center, a clock tower and a Sadar bazaar being some commonalities you would find in all these towns. These towns grew further through the early years of independence thanks to the militarily charged atmosphere (due to the Cold War, Indo-Pak, Indo-China wars etc) thus maintaining the status of military

Thoughts on a sojourn : Cities in India – Part I

I have been travelling in the past week – from Mumbai, to Baroda to Delhi, to Dehradoon and Mussourie and back. It has been a great experience, but even more it has been a thought provoking travel through the metros, small and smaller cities and via towns as well. It is wonderful to explore India because there is so much hidden beneath the quotidian activities in Indian cities - most Indian cities, however small or big have centuries old history behind them. They have grown, destroyed and rebuilt so many times and yet some element of past is still visible in them even today. While travelling to and through these cities some thoughts emerged in my mind about the way these cities have come into the current state – I am detailing them below. Long before the British or the Mughals marched into India, the region had developed mature political and administrative systems. More so, irrespective of whether there was one national ruler (ex. Ashoka or Akbar) or the rule was shared by regional