Thursday, May 07, 2020
The Pandemic and the City
The city is not just block and buildings with roads, and traffic. The city is also lives, livelihoods, opportunity, economic opportunity, but more than that the city is hopes and dreams and futures.
And the one thing we have figured out in the course of the last 3 months of a pandemic is that the city is woefully inadequate in most of these respects.
The city scarcely recognises those that live on its fringes
do the work that keeps it going.
And when all this is done, it will put the weight of the future on a vaccine and "better" healthcare and carry on like it has always done - mostly indifferently.
A lot is being said about social distancing being the "new normal", but that isn't possible when scores of nuclear families own multiple tenaments with more than 4 bedrooms (as investment, for the future et al) and 65 percent of the city lives and uses possibly less than 30 percent of the city.
It is also not possible as long as norms of FAR are linked to number of dwellings per acre, and developers and policy do not go back to the drawing board and reimagine the city based on densities and provision of resource based on community health and livability.
To make any real difference we need policy changes and new models by which the city is imagined and realised. We need policy that looks at housing and infrastructure as guaranteed democratic rights, not as speculative investment for economic gain. Our cities have too long been controlled by the super rich! You need only to go over to NewGurgaon, or closer home, places like Vasant Kunj. You don't need to go near Lutyens zone that reeks of this to a point of sickness.
Also we have forgotten, there are natural cycles, 100 years, 50 years, 20 years, for floods, for disease, we have chosen to ignore these.
In a sense this is opportunity. But it will require braveness to explore and re-imagine a future that does not build on the errors of the