New Delhi: A makeover
Recently the IHT carried an interesting article about New Delhi’s facelift as a city.
This is a capital city in layers, where the remnants of successive pasts live in strange juxtaposition: the aging temples of Hindu antiquity, the domed mosques of Islamic empire, the colonnaded bungalows of the British Raj. It is, as William Dalrymple, a British writer, has called it, “a city disjointed in time, a city whose different ages lay suspended side by side as in aspic.”
In recent times a lot of Indian cities have been grappling with a spate of issues including but not limited to infrastructure, land development, housing shortage, abysmal traffic conditions and an exploding urban population due to migratory trends from rural India.
The IT and BPO revolution, while doing a lot of good for India and its growing middle class, has had to grapple with these very issues that it has inadvertantly help spawn.
New Delhi started off on a plus, in that it was a clean slate till 1911 when Lutyens drew his grandiose plans onto paper and the new capital city of India was born. Few know the fact that Lutyens planned New Delhi on the same design principles that L’enfant used to design Washington DC in the 19th century. But, as my professor of Urban Theory at Pratt; Prof James Rossant once mentioned, New Delhi has succeeded in all the aspects where Washington DC has failed. New Delhi according to him is more pompous, majestic, and grand while Washington DC is kinda there, but just misses the mark. Coming from someone who has designed the capital city of Tanzania, its a lot.
As an urban designer, both cities have fascinated me everytime I have been there. Washington DC definitely has better public spaces. But I feel that it has more to do with the general fact that the city is better kept and spends more money on upkeeping of its facilities.
The article continues
New Delhi is attempting a makeover from smoggy megalopolis to a city to rival Bangalore or Mumbai as a global showcase for a world ever more inquisitive about India. It is a steep, unlikely climb for a national capital that was long the staid company town of the national government, a place reeking of officialdom – a city, as V.S. Naipaul wrote, “built for parades rather than people.”
I don’t agree with this statement and it has to be taken with a certain amount of sarcasm. As much as I am a Bombay lifetimer, there is a lot left to be desired of Bombay as a world class city. All the above inadequacies I pointed out to need to addressed for it to ever be considered one. It of course does not help that it has 400 years of baggage to carry!!
The intentions of the government seem to be idealistic
simulate the atmospherics of a global metropolis even before a middle-income economy arrives, the trappings, says a government report, of a “clean, green, hassle-free, world-class capital city.”
Read the entire article at the International Herald Tribune