Recently I walked from Nehru Nagar, where I grew up, to Majestic and felt sad to see degradation all along the road. Earlier while not special it was not this ugly. In fact, Anand Rao circle was pretty and the race course road parallel to railway line had some nice bungalows. Only Justice Somanath Iyer's bungalow looks the same and incongruous as the rest of the road has become pathetic.
I remember as a seven year old I had once walked home from Majestic all by myself. Today I am not sure a kid will be able to walk alone on this road .
As I see a similar degradation all across, I wondered 'Do we really lack good urban planners?' Then I saw the article below :
‘Metro is ruining the aesthetics of the city : Charles Correa, India’s foremost architect who was in the city, took time off to discuss his latest book — A Place in the Shade, a compilation of his essays
Sahana CharanPosted On Sunday, January 09, 2011 at 01:53:23 AM
Some excerpts from the article:
TAKE A BUS RIDE
Now I know that we do not lack good urban planners, it is only that our decision makers do not take heed.
Surprisingly a coffee table book, 'The city beautiful' by T P Issar, which has been lying around in our home gave me the answer. We are like this and we were like this.
I am not sure if Kempegowda, the four towers he built are famous, had any vision of how his city should look in the future. Possibly not. He could not have anticipated the work of the British; the cantonment with its spacious bungalows or the Persian influence brought in by Hyder Ali and Tippu Sultan.
Bangalore would have been just the inner city, with its narrow roads and crowded buildings. I was even surprised to discover that the posh localities of the city's earlier days, Basavanagudi and Malleswaram were actually developed after 1900 to avoid the recurrence of plague.
This perhaps explains why we are like this. It seems the elite, those close to the brits, moved out of the inner city and left others to fend for themselves and now thanks to democracy and demography many of the decision makers come from these neglected areas!
I am reminded of Arundati Roy's opinion of Indian elite in an interview in Guernica: The Indian elite has seceded into outer space. It seems to have lost the ability to understand those who have been left behind on earth.
While I was hoping to move to a gated community, I am now in a quandary especially after reading Arundati and also about Charles Correa's worries about the effects of a gated community.
Roy's predictions are ominous. I feel we are headed for very bad times. This is going to become a more violent place, this country. But now that it’s upon us, as a writer I’ll have to find a way to live, to witness, to communicate what’s going on.
Then I read Parag Khanna, author of 'How to run the world', in the crest edition of TOI.( for some reason it is not letting me register on line!)
I like him because he has articulated my worries 'I love India but I am dispassionate, Kashmir, the North East, endemic corruption, Naxalite problem, the youth bulge without jobs to match -- these are the things India needs to worry 24 hours a day, not worry about China'.
A typical Indian situation, the elite who could possibly change to course of things are hiding in gated communities or engaged in endless debates on TV. They are just hoping the problems will go away while taking care of themselves, while the new decision makers from the inner cities and small towns, well most of them, had never had it so good!