Gandhi famously said that the real India resided not in the great cities of Bombay or New Delhi, but in its 700,000 villages. The number of villages has gone up rapidly since and it is not surprising given the amount of money on which a poor Indian, no wait, a poor bhartiya lives. There is a difference you see. A prosperous person of this country is an Indian, while the non English speaking and non connected person is bhartiya. This chasm has been acknowledged by no other person than the PM in waiting Mr. Rahul Gandhi. The question that arises is where should we start from if we have to think about urban development in India? Should [email protected] be a primarily urban country? Or should [email protected] be a conscious model of urban rural harmony?
In a country where famously there are more temples than toilets, it is difficult to even start with the where’s and how’s of planning. Land being a sentimental and contentious issue, any policy on urban expansion would have to deal with the pulls and pressures of the democracy in acquiring land for such purpose. This is amply demonstrated by the pending Land Acquisition bill before the parliament which seems to have been reduced to that ever expanding category of “to be passed soon” bills.
It is in this backdrop of urban planning and the challenges surrounding it that the issue of Environmental sustainability acquires legitimate seriousness. While we and our governments may treat climate change as something which will happen only when human colonies on other planets have been established, it is necessary to seriously acknowledge the gravity of this matter if India really wants to be one among the world leaders at 75.
What does the future hold for us? No one can know. I won’t even take a chance.
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