Friday, 24 December 2010

Slums, cities and the web of development -3: Ghettos of Development

Slums, cities and the web of development -3
"... because there was no room"
3 Ghettos of Development

It is, of course, possible to rehabilitate the people within their homestead at countryside instead of displacing them, for so-called progress and development in the name of “common good”. Is it possible to rehabilitate the people who are marginalized due to natural calamity or human intervention? It is possible to rehabilitate them with dignity.

Under certain town planning acts the land holdings are reconstituted within city limits, for example by declaring town-planning schemes. Twenty-five years ago Vadodara City took care of all, particularly the small landholders that they do not loose their land while acquisition of land for public and social services for paltry sum of compensation.

Reconstitute Regional Land Holdings

Why then, should it not be possible to reconstitute the land holdings at the regional level while acquiring land for the development projects from where the people are displaced, or where the land acquired by paying cash compensations, and perhaps a promise of jobs in future, while creating the “ghettos of development” in the rural areas?
What is the value of cash compensation in the spiralling inflation and falling rupee value? Instead the local people affected by the development projects are treated as second-class citizens.
Is the administrative machinery ready and prepared to work hard for this job?

Compensation for the Acquired Land 


What is the basis of cash compensation for the acquired land?
Is it the current land price in the locality?
Is it based on the comparison with land value in the cities and metropolitan cities?
But don’t, however, cities, depend on the resources of the regions – at times from remote and distant areas for their sustenance?
Is the compensation based on the future inflated land value when the project becomes operative?
Is it based on the disparity of living standards of the urban elite and rural poor?
Or is the disparity in the literacy level and consumption level of both — those who acquire the land with the help of instrument of law and those from the land is taken — is a measure of cash compensation?
Or is it based on a theory that the people that depended on the very piece of land for ten thousand – or more – years, generation after generation, and will be deprived of the very resource – the land – for the posterity?
In what way the life of the people around the “Ghettos of Development” in the name of common good, in the areas of education and schooling, job and vocations, economic conditions, and services – post, transport, water supply, health…?
Until now they had depended on the soil for their sustenance while feudal lords, kings, rulers and emperors – Ashoka or Aurangzeb – came and vanished. And now in the independent India the ruling minority have taken their role? 

Who should get the rights to develop the waste lands in the country? It is worth a study. Perhaps only those who have strings and pull in their hand in the corridors of power could get the hold of wasteland. Instead, the marginalized and the displaced should have the rights on the waste land, with appropriate aid of technology, training and finance, and rights.

In any case, the present waste lands are the result of monuments and urban development of the glorious past and the ambitious present.    

Replace Slums by Humane Habitat

Is it possible to remove from, or rather replace slums by creating humane habitat in the cities and towns in India, and to some extent? Yes, if the people are given a fair deal in the development projects, out side of urban area, in the cases of public and private sector projects, including the areas brought under urbanization such as New Bombay built by CIDCO (City and Industrial Development Corporation) in Maharashtra State.

Take one of many aspects – the compensation for acquired land, particularly in the rural area. It is not only the owners of the land acquired but also entire affected population of village/s or region must be entitled to receive compensation. All are dependent on the land (and water) as a resource.

The nature and value of compensation and rehabilitation should be worked on the basis of and in the proportion of the total cost of the project, whether the land is acquired for a public or private project, which include mining projects. The total cost should include:

1. The cost of planning, administration, acquisition and arbitration processes from inception to completion stage: e.g. salaries, stationary, establishment, transport, conveyance, consultancy, services such as legal, technical, management, planning etc.
2. The investment incurred in the development, construction and establishment of infrastructure: A. civil works, rod, rail, buildings, machinery etc, and B. Services.
3. Annual compensation in the proportion of annual expenditure, but not of profit (loss) irrespective of subsidies and tax concessions, during the years of operations / life of a project.
4. When the life of a project is over, or its use and its owner is changed (as it happens when the government owned projects are privatized, in recent times,) the land must be restored back to the people.

The major curse of the so-called development projects is the land (and waters) gets degraded – dead – forever, whether the project is a success or failure, runs in profit or loss, or abandoned or changed.

Image: Squatters in Mumbai  

Squatters in Mumbai
Ghettos of Development: An Example 

Raigad had been a Notified Backward District. Proximity of Mumbai, availability of 'cheap' land and labour, and other facilities, hence, many industries found it lucrative for investment.
 
The environs of Rasayani and other industries here are inhabited by Adivasi Communities and other societies. More than three decades have passed, but the presence of industries have not changed their economic and health conditions for better, or improved literacy or education. On the contrary these industries have polluted the nearby Patalganaga River that affects fish and farming. 
Continued 4 

 

Author: Remigius de Souza
[Published in the Journal of Indian Institute of Architects, Vol. 61, No. 9,  Dec.1996, p23-25. This is edited version.]
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©
Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Sunday, 19 December 2010

Slums, cities and the web of development -2

Slums, cities and the web of development -2 


2 - The slums increase in direct proportion to the development. 


Most cities and towns in India have prepared development plans during last tree or four decades – mostly through the government departments. It is possible for city governments i.e. municipalities, to acquire land, to freeze the land use and municipalize the city lands for the purposes other than roads, gardens, commercial and city centres.

For example, Vadodara [Baroda] city (in 1960s) notified certain areas of land for “public housing” some thirty years ago. If Vadodara City can do it, then other cities too can find indigenous ways to deal with their problems.

It is possible to freeze the land use of vacant plots as well as areas of dilapidated buildings, which could be used for rehabilitation of slum dwellers, for redevelopment and revitalization of the area.

This could be brought about by “collective creativity” rather than by formulas and standards. This is possible when all citizens, not merely the professionals and the vested interests groups, become aware of the planning process. This is possible by creating a public forum.

Another example: Vadodara City (in 1965-70) rehabilitated 2000 families of slum dwellers whose huts were washed off in the flash flood of River Vishwamiti. They were given houses in five different safe places in the city. This was possible for two reasons: there was will on the part of the people of the city and the land was made available.

Today the slums at Vadodara have increased manifold. Are slums emerging as a new form of human habitat all over the country and elsewhere in the world while the humanity is on the threshold of 21st century? People use the phrase “21st century” as a magic wand. But the miracle is not coming off. The slums in the Indian cities have now become an ever-expanding phenomenon, which seems to have no end in future.

Slums are a result of territorial war and an invasion. It is slow, silent and unseen resulting from a partition where the powerful have opted for machine-energy to human potential, for power and profit. Perhaps the planners in their future development plans may have to paint grey-coloured-areas for slums in addition to other land-use zones in the city maps?

No one wants to leave one’s home and land, kin and community, and live in the rotten environment of slums in the cities. In Bombay, for example, during the World War II in the past and recent times during ‘the Textile Mill workers’ Strike’ and the riots, many people left the city, even though temporarily.

Exodus took place from Goa during the times of Inquisition during Portuguese rule, and during the partition of India – Pakistan from both the countries. It has been recognized that movement is associated with survival from proto-historic times for humans and other species. The slums are the result of desperate struggle for survival by the silent majority.

Who are these people in the slums?

They could be riot-affected, famine-affected, war-affected, the development-affected and economy affected, besides other causes. They are landless labourers, farmers, peasants, artisans etc. Adivasis – the aborigine – who are forest-dwellers, however, temporarily migrate to towns and cities for labour work during lean seasons of the year. They do have life-supporting skills and education, but are turned redundant due to the destruction of social and natural environment that helped them to sustain in the past. 

Contd. Part 3

Note: Author: Remigius de Souza
[Published in the Journal of Indian Institute of Architects, Vol. 61, No. 9,  Dec.1996, p23-25. This is edited version.]


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©Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Slums, cities and the web of development -1: Slums are on rise in India

1- Slums are on rise in India 


The slum dwellers and squatters in Mumbai have risen to 60% of 110 lakhs population. They obviously are major vote bank in the metropolis. Obviously the politicians mooted an idea of “giving free houses’ to them.   

Either housing ‘for’ or ‘by’ the slum dwellers is an important issue, because it is the “people’s issue”, and its end does not seem to be anywhere in sight. It is important because in spite of so-called development and progress of science and technologies and the expertise in economics, politics, law, health [medicine], administration, management, info-tech, statistics etc. there seems to be no solution yet in sight.  

Squatters in foreground, Slum-dwellers in the free multistory building behind, Skyscraper in the background for the wealthy investors.
  
   For want of effective evaluation, ‘giving’ houses to the slum-dwellers and the rural poor, in spite of so much being done by the state, it has remained to the level of lip service. It pampers feudal attitude of the ruling minority. It cannot be termed altruistic as an end in itself.
  
   It is merely a postponement of treating the root cause by adapting ‘curative’ measures in fashion that we are so much habituated to modern medical practices. In dealing with this problem we must to the end of our rationale by looking at it from all the sides and from within it.
  
   The attitude, the mindset has to change from ‘curative measures’ to ‘care, preventive and corrective measures’. ‘Giving’ houses to the slum dwellers and the house-less is only a ‘curative’ measure, for self-gratification.

Do we learn from the mistakes?

What would the rulers do if there are many more earthquakes which may affect many more villages and towns?
How often the storms and floods have destroyed the houses, besides, other property and lives, in the country, and to what extent?
What has happened to the ‘Bhopal Gas Tragedy’ victims? How do these and such other events have influenced the planning and efficiency of action?
In what way these have affected our attitudes?
Do these problems belong merely to the ‘compartment’ of disaster management?
Or do they result in (futile) inquiry commission or tribunal, one more act, another department or one more ministry…?

In spite of so-called progress, planning and development the slums are on rise. They are not only in the metropolitan cities, but also in the small towns and along the transit lines, all over the country.

It is not impossible to deal with the problem of slums. But when the question of sharing the resources, equity, standards, energy, prices of farm and forest products etc. come up, the ruling minority, it may be proved, follow double standards. They turn out to be fundamentalist to claim that the development is for common good, not necessarily for the good of all. Hence the slums had been termed as illegal settlements. It is worth a study how metropolitan and large cities and mega-industries devour the resources of the land of the regions more than their due share… 

Contd. Part 2

Slums, cities and the web of development | Author: Remigius de Souza
[Published in the Journal of Indian Institute of Architects, Vol. 61, No. 9,  Dec.1996, p23-25. This is edited version.]


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©Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Indian Bazaar VS Global Market: A view by an ordinary Indian

INDIAN BAZAAR, at primary level, brings a producer and consumer in direct contact; no third party is involved. With urbanization, broker comes in the picture, the price and distance between the two increases. Hence, the State department's work and rewards (!) increase, with more powers.

City is a symbol of centralized power. Larger a city larger an area its footprint covers, even across continents and oceans, and larger its powers to manipulate and control regions via Market: City is actually a proxy to the power monger/s. In earlier times it was a king, now a corporate body.

Bazaar is an ecological element in the agrarian society, then and now. Because of India's so-called 'mix economy, free market, open market, globalization..., the peasant now belongs to a new category of “Class”, or rather “Underclass”. They are the first and the worst casualty of 'Development and Progress', besides already existing oppressions of caste discrimination; gender oppressions apart.

Web of Caste and Class 

They are now caught in the “web” of "Vertical divisions of Caste and Horizontal divisions of Class". Which one of them is worst? They grew up for many thousand years with degenerated caste system. But, now they are imposed upon by the divisions of class that is already (globally) degenerated. 

The overview of the whole situation looks intriguing in the post-freedom era. The elite fascinated by industrialization, took over the reigns to run the affairs of the country. How did the peasant respond to the change, after centuries of feudal domination? What did freedom, democracy and leaders mean to them? 

"Now it is our Raj, and our leaders will take care of our wellbeing!" Hero-worship continued. What about the five years' rule of limited liability by elections? How does it change perceptions of leaders and peasants about self-rule?  

There are two distinct courses that India followed for decades: (1) the enthusiastic implementation of ‘pro-elite’ projects, and (2) failure to implement or materialize the ‘pro-poor’ Slogans / Promises / Programmes / Provisions. The fall-out of these two conditions now shows glaring or grim results.

Past sixty three years have witnessed rising numbers of riots, extremist and terror attacks; the deaths by hunger – malnutrition – starvation, and suicide by farmers; atrocities on women-children-minorities; atrocities by the security forces, to cite a few. Besides there are number of persons Bellow Poverty Line and the illiterate that don't reduce. 


Countless atrocities take place that are caused to the under privileged people by State Agencies in the name of law and order. There are scams, kickbacks, corruption, parallel economy, encounters, and shootings etc. which may be notable among many.

We take social – economic growth by the Development Projects too much for granted. Recent visit by the US President Obama to India means Market, even if by ancient system of 'barter', of trade, tech for jobs! Did India count how would the upcoming US Market and Nuke Deal affect The Third World India and The Fourth World India (of Adivasis)? Is this aspect social and economic fall-out counted in the Nuclear Safety Precautions? 

Mother Earth - Land - now a market commodity 
 
Yet there is another silent but sinister trend going on since 1950s and 1960s. Highly placed urbanites, executives, celebrities, real estate developers… have been buying large tracts of land – hills, plains, marshes – in rural areas at strategic places, by their money-power. What could poor farmers do? Yesterday they were masters; now landless labourers.

Large tracts of land are being converted to raise monoculture for industrial use, or in the name of afforestation, at the cost of biodiversity. There are many and many kinds of atrocities taking place on land and waters.

Would there be accelerated Migration from countryside, or Annihilation of the peasants – by Invisible Forces? As we Re-Search even a single aspect, Bazaar, it opens the hidden agenda of Indian Elite: how sly, hypocrite and ruthless they are! It is not merely Indian BAZAAR VS Global MARKET.

It is more sinister action by the insensitive leaders and experts, detrimental to a large and majority rural and forest dwellers. Government of India certainly strives to improve infrastructure, but only for the elite segment. It has failed to create appropriate infrastructure for 900 million peasants in 600,000 villages, some of them are rotting in the cities.

The basic and most urgent infrastructure for the rural people is RELEVANT EDUCATION: Literacy in vernacular, appropriate Education, Alternative Farming Technologies, Water Resources and Conservation, Legal Counselling for All Ages and Genders. These are not separate departments but must be treated and implemented as One Holistic Package.

The hold of the peasant and the consumer on the market, until then, remains a distant dream.

The displaced with their skills in the city 

The displaced and marginalized migrate to cities 
in search of work to sustain with dignity.
(Images by Remigius de Souza)
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 We have heard, the kibbutz have turned desert in Israel into land 
where honey and milk flows, by community participation.
 


Panoramic photo (composite) of Sunflower fields at Kibbutz Barkai, Israel; 
Author: Rickjpelleg | Source: Wikipedia 

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©Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Terra Incognita Indica: Building with Earth (Book Review)

Terra Incognita Indica: Building with Earth: a notable Textbook: "Building with Earth: a notable Textbook (Book Review) by Remigius de Souza ------------------------------------------------------------- ..."



© Remigius de Souza., All rights reserves.
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Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Hawkers' Fundamental Rights and Contemporary City Planning

Supreme Court, on Oct 20, 2010, gave a ruling that hawking is a Fundamental Right. Delhi hawkers filed a petition challenging Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) and New Delhi Municipal Council (NDMC). SC pulled up the agencies on a few points. There have been several directives given to government and municipalities.

Any educated, sane person (literate or illiterate, rich or poor, layperson or professional) must be able to respond to this issue positively. But we (of The First World India) forget or ignore the millennia old Indian agrarian society and their living traditions which should be acknowledged as Unwritten Laws. Hawking is one of them.

Missing primary factor in city planning 

However, the vital and primary missing factor in this case is 'CITY' itself, therefore, 'City Planning'. City is the real cause of trouble (city being symbol of centralized power) for the people inside and outside, both.

Flower vendors during festivals, Mumbai

Judiciary, even the Supreme Court, and subsequently media-the-hawk missed this context to ‘city’ and ‘city planning’ which is at fault. City planning is not inclusive of people and their cultures in the pluralistic society of India.

When city planners write / draw map of a city, they actually write an Act of Law: That is the status of city plan. First, this map is displayed at appropriate place for the citizens to scrutinize and put on record their objections / grievances. Then it goes through hearings, redressal and then further stages of scrutiny and approval at government level. This indeed is a democratic process. 

This might seem absurd, if we consider the levels of education, literacy, illiteracy and the access to information of the citizens, and how do they use their resources This assessment may be difficult but not impossible. Media or multimedia, now, could work to spread non-formal education to all, if used effectively. 

Hawking is ancient tradition   

For millennia peasants and forest dwellers have been bringing their goods and produce for sell to weekly bazaars at villages, towns, cities and thousands of fairs annually held across the country, even in remote places. There are many cities older than thousand years, and there are 600,000 villages in India. Hawking is ancient tradition. 

Tender coconut vendor, Mumbai
Bazaar has been a characteristic feature of Indian Urban centres, small or big. If Indian intelligentsia and newfangled town planners want to ignore this fact in the name of Modernism or Westernization, and sell the land to Shopping Malls and Departmental Stores at the detriment of large majority, it is not patriotism. It is treason and intellectual slavery.

The First World India (of ruling minority) has been groomed by foreign-made education, by now a few generations. Perhaps they have lost the roots? Why architects and town planners should be an exception? If the professionals are ignorant of this loud and visible fact, and lack essential field-work, how could they ever integrate People in the Laws? How could they make People-inclusive plans? 

Each time of crisis of management of the country arises, they look for models elsewhere to imitate, or knock the doors of High Court/s and Supreme Court. But they do not look for answers from people and the ground reality; or create mass movement for divisive caused when poverty is rampant and policies oppressive.

Typically, cities 'built' in India during past ten decades have shops along roads or separate plots for shopping centres. However, in reality it seems they are planned, in the first place for cars and roads, then land-use zones, thereafter, population (numbers) that is a faceless entity. Now ‘family’ is called ‘household’ – am object. Of course, invariably the numbers prove the projections, projects, plans and planners failed.

Car takes more area than a squatter and hawker 
Cars - stationary and moving - take more area and 3D Space than slum dwellers, squatters & hawkers. It is a known fact that modern cities have lost Human Scale by domination of car. How car does consume energy, affects environment and ecology, which primarily comes from the Earth; and how it does pay back to Earth, is never questioned.

Squatters living under Mumbai Flyover

Now we pray, India's Nuke Deals don't bring further doom – by Bang Soundless and Cloud Smokeless – to the Peasants and Aborigines  by default, like that of Machine and Market so far. None speaks if the Fallout is counted in the Nuclear Safety Precautions? We ignore social – economic fallout of development. Would there be accelerated Migration from countryside or Annihilation? Already there are suicides by farmers: Annihilation by Invisible Forces?

Example of hawker inclusive Vadodara City Plan

While we (Town Planning Team) ware working on the Town Planning Schemes (TPS) for Vadodara City (formerly, Baroda), in the second half of 1960s, we integrated hawkers in the TPS. We had provided pathways for pedestrians and cyclists, besides the hierarchy of streets. At the rounded corners of the junctions of pathways and streets, small open plots were kept for the hawkers. These plots remain connected without coming in the way of pedestrians and vehicles. Corners of junctions are favourite of hawkers everywhere, not only at Vadodara. This planning action comes from ‘field-work’. 

Revamp Professional Education Disciplines  

Conclusions: There is an urgent need. The education in the disciplines of "City Planning, Urban Design, Environmental Planning, Regional Planning, Design of Indian Roads, etc. and their Foundation Courses, besides the Law”, need total overhaul, as if the Place (Land, Waters and Vegetation), People and their Cultures matter. There are no international standards for a city. A city is not a product for trade. 

Notes:

1. Images above are by Remigius de Souza
2. Links: "Flower Bazaar at Mumbai during Ganesh Festival
3. News Link:  Hawkers’ fundamental right can’t be left in limbo: court

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©Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Monday, 1 November 2010

Emergence of The Fifth World India




Emergence of The Fifth World India 


This scene appears in a public square in Mumbai.

The Fifth World India of the marginalized and the displaced is already on the scenario. And we presume it may also be worldwide phenomena. However nobody wants to acknowledge its existence, particularly those who wield power. 

The people are marginalized and displaced for various reasons. However the primary cause is Industrial Revolution and the Industrial Society that grew with it over a period of time, and their rapid, wild and unrestrained growth, progressively.

The growth of Industrialization certainly is out of proportion to entire population on, and the resources of the planet. It has created imbalance between regions and peoples, resulting in deprivation of basic needs – Food, Shelter and Clothing – for the economically weaker section, which is a large majority.

The Industrial Society, now labeled a Global phenomenon, wields monopoly over the resources of the Earth that belongs to all living beings – humans as well as plants and other animals.

Industrial Revolution is not ‘Universal’ like Agricultural Revolution. It remains in the hands of a privileged few. The rest are denied its advantages in practice, though it may not be on paper. This is not an altruistic attitude generally ascribed to humans.

Columbus discovered ‘New World’ while searching India. It followed not only colonization of new land and faith but also annihilation / enslaving of aborigines / local people. Vasco da Gama when landed at Mahim in Mumbai, then Islands of Mumbai, there was war at Mahim Fort. On winning the war the soldiers went around Mahim village and killed the unarmed villagers to create terror; typically colonization of land and faith followed power. A known history!   

Now the 20th century and its extension the 21st century have seen faces of Power, Colonization and Faith changed. They are now faceless entities, not a picture of personalized Maharaja, Map or Mother Goddess. Now they are Money (economy), Market and Machine (the make-believe-idol-of-salvation – Science and Technology). 

In India, tools with sexy and sugary names such as, Special Economic Zones (SEZs) are coined to facilitate the First World India, and to allure people at large as if it is boon for heaven of happiness. As if it will work like magic wand to bring progress and development to the majority second-class citizens in 600,000 villages (by “trickle-down” formula).

Perhaps it may work for the First World India of yours and mine who live in Virtual Reality, for the Presidents, Prime-Ministers and Political Party-leaders who reach their “level of incompetence” (The Peter Principle). The peasants, of course, don’t believe in their antics. Hence they have been electing “hung” parliaments and legislative assemblies for decades; but politicians don’t learn their lessons. 

The obvious fallout of development of last six decades in India is the increasing number of the marginalized and the displaced from the rural areas. They have been migrating in hordes to mega cities and urban areas to earn their daily bread in the hope of survival.

From Nehru down till now the Government of India follows the priority of progress and development on the western model, rather than facilitating knowledge to and educating the agrarian society in six lakhs villages to face the Challenges of Industrialization, particularly in farming (agriculture, aquaculture, forestry, horticulture and related fields) and Market. This should have been the primary task before a government of any brand – right/left/centre, religion, language, caste, religion, colour and dogmas.

Slum-dog Millionaire Mumbai 


Stone Age humans must have been working in this manner!

Mumbai, said-to-be financial capital of India, has population of 110+ millions. It attracts the Global Capitalist Corporate; of course, to market their unsold / surplus goods & reap profits. Their primary interest is Indian Market, not Indian People. The First World India welcomes them.

People of The Fifth World India, the legitimate citizens of India, marginalized and displaced from their homestead, are the victims of many / different causes, including the Action., Non-Action, and/or Failed-Action by the Government/s. They are the slum-dwellers and squatters, 60%+ of Mumbai's population.

The First World India's elite citizens in Mumbai have different reactions and responses to their presence in Mumbai, which is mostly negative and hostile, very few empathize.  However, now, the landmark slum at Dharavi is a target for redevelopment, for its Land at Prime Location to mint money, by land-sharks the Real-Estate Corporate: They, too, are not interested in the People. 

It is best symbolized by Mumbai City's land use plan: Typically this 'Grey Area' of 60 plus million habitants is not shown on the map. It is as if city land is a market commodity, not for humans use. Industrial Civilization turns land-water-air-space... everything including humans into market commodity.

Government floated ‘curative’ measure called ‘free housing’ under slum rehabilitation & put the slum dwellers in high-rise concrete slums. This cannot be called the Rehabilitation of the Affected People. It is a poor planning action, either long-term or short-term. (This requires a separate chapter for evaluation.)

The Fifth World is a Global Phenomena 
Hindustan Times News
                                        Instead of strengthening autonomy of the peasants, the thrust has been on the development of industry and necessary infrastructure it required. The language of farming is Universal; therefore, Agricultural Revolution could spread across the continents, when there was neither urbanization (civilized society) nor institution of government.

As a saying goes, ‘wherever civilization stepped, it left desert behind’; now in modern times, it is Industrial Civilization. Interestingly emergence of The Fifth World is not limited to India alone; it is now a Global Phenomenon. 

Industrial Civilization, in the name of ‘Social and Financial Development’ (H G Wells, The Short  History of the World), leaves irreversible desert in the human world by effecting slavery (earlier physical, now intellectual), destitution (by constant wars), poverty – hunger – starvation – malnutrition – marginalization – displacement (by monopolizing resources – land, waters, forests, minerals, on which Peoples led, for tens of thousands of years,  Sustainable Living) and complete disregard for their cultures): Now it coins a new verbosity – Sustainable Development!   

India, in the frenzy to bring Industrialization, made several Laws and Acts (which also include Development Projects, such as dams, cities, expansion of cities…) without Enacting Rehabilitation of the Affected People, by design or default. There is no effort to scrutinize the obvious fallout of previous/existing/defunct Laws and Acts, their success and failures. Neither India does learn from others’ mistakes.

Following the draconian British-made law of ‘Land Acquisition Act’ the government took over lands. The compensation came by way of Cash that had no tangible value. Our learned leaders, bureaucrats and judiciary never thought of how people live and survive, or their Ancestral Right to land. Now with few amendments the law remains!  

The Governments in India, at Centre and the states, while following various divisive policies, which results in pushing India’s plural society to polarization and further weakening the weaker section – a large majority, unilaterally followed to develop Industry (where there is Money), and conveniently ignored Gandhiji (who ironically appears on Indian Currency).

More on this issue:
  1. THE OTHER INDIA in THE OTHER WORLD (Review) 
  2. Urban Renewal in the Regional Context 
  3. ‘PRO-POOR’ – Election slogan by UPA-2004

Note: 1 Image, "Mumbai's Slum Population" Source: Hindustan Times, e Paper 17-10-2010
2. Images of squatters in Mumbai by Remigius de Souza 


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©Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Tuesday, 19 October 2010

Song of a Modern Day Trishanku

I caress my ego endless
in my own utopia.
What if in utter poverty suffer
pangs of hunger, 
at homeland, a thirty crore persons?
What is it for me?
They bear fruits of their fate!

Why then do I search faces 
of my caste-community on Internet
of virtual reality world, 
send signals on satellites costliest?
Why then my mighty fate
can’t buy me a copter?
“What can coward luck do for Pandu?”   

Hey, Remi is such a persona!
Expert Modern Vishwamitra
of Yantra–Tantra–Mantra 
by promising happy-wealthy life,
by creating New World,
turned me into mythical Trishanku! 

And people of bone – flesh,
Blood – body, and alive 
at home whom I pushed
to homelessness by my insatiable  wants!
Such is an arrogant rash Remi,
a modern day Trishanku!
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(Translation of original Marathi composition)
15-09-2010


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©Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Friday, 15 October 2010

Nobel Prize Winners in Peril

Jesus-didn't-do-any-miracle-in-2K-yrs-other-than-crusades-stop-What-could-even-2K-Nobel-Prize-winners-do-in-the-Yr-2010-about-starvation-...or-for-7billion-people-?

Nobel Prize Winners enjoy patronage of the Centralized Power Unlimited of the Global Capitalist Corporate Class, hence the result is anybody's guess! 

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©Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Saturday, 18 September 2010

SAVE OUR TIGERS Campaign Corrected

‘Historically the study of evolution has concentrated almost exclusively upon the animals. If plants are mentioned it is only in passing and usually to reconstruct the environment in which to view the animal record.'(The opening sentence of the book, “The Evolution of Plants” by Willis, K.J. & McElwin, OUP, 2002.)
International Year of Biodiversity 2010 needs to implement DOWN TO EARTH action rather than sermons and slogans. It also needs to curb wild use of natural resources by the persons / organizations in power, and use peoples’ participation. 

 
To Save Our Tigers,
Save Plants to
Save Forest to
Save Water to
Save Land to
Save Livelihood to
Save All Living beings to
Save Human beings to
Save Our Sanity.
 
We give due credits to the AIRCELL for their noble intention to support ‘Save Our Tigers’ campaign while placing advertisement to promote their product that recently appeared in print media.

We sincerely and earnestly feel environmental and ecological balance between natural, rural and urban areas for sustainable living must be restored. It must be on equitable basis for all living beings – plants, animals (wildlife), aborigine communities (Scheduled Tribes), peasants in rural and forest areas, and the urbanite; not merely for – as is the buzzword goes – sustainable development.  

We make an effort to add few missing but most important elements, within same area, at the risk of being it called plagiarism.

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© Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Tuesday, 7 September 2010

All Are Architects

Honeybees and Hive
 ALL ARE ARCHITECTS: Honeybees are architects; Spiders are architects; Weaver-birds are architects; Beavers are architects; Ants are architects... 

All are architects, because at primary level architecture is Shelter; that matters! The Title 'Architect' is protected by law in some countries, and following them in the First World India. This is so because of ignorance about real life and real issues of people.

However, thankfully, the term “architecture” is not legal.

In India now there may be about 50,000, perhaps more, qualified architects. How many of them have taken legal title is doubtful. Imagine, 1200 million people have 50K architects! They will have no time to cope up the amount of work they should have had. 


Weaver Bird's two nests are never same

Spider's Site Selection

Yet there is monopoly of a few architects in the profession. Forty years ago, one architect, a foreigner of credibility, (I don't mention the name) exclaimed in Ahmadabad, "these mafia architects!"    

While “shelter”, howsoever may have stood the test of time, is considered “low” in esteem by civil society; “Architecture” is “high art” surrounded by mystery. In the present scenario, “architect” belongs to a “service class” – in Indic term, “Neo-Shudra” – in the created by Industrial Civilization, on the outskirts of Global village.   


Anthills
 Well, that was a case earlier too. Emperor Shah Jahan cut off the hand of the architect who created Taj Mahal! 

Heinrich Robert Zimmer, in his book on Indian art (Myths and Symbols in Indian Art and Civilization), quotes a story of the gods’ architect, Vishwakarma, who had built a palace of Indra, the king of gods. Indra brought him virtually to tears. So he approached Vishnu, and he took Vishvakarma to Shiva for recourse. Shiva, in a guise of an ascetic, gives Indra a vision to understand that his glory is short-lived like a millions Indra that have passed away before him. The mythical story imbibes aesthetics and ethics. 


MY HOUSE IN KONKAN REGION, WEST COAST, INDIA 


My mother was the owner - architect of this house. It was built by Community Participation, where carpenters, masons, adobe wall builders came from village and surrounding area. I was in teens then. I took by first lessons 'mud house building' here.My mother exercised her autonomy about planning, size, materials to be used, in consultation with all workers: it is in regional style. This house was built by self-help.

It is a mud house - mud floor, mud walls and mud plaster; local latarite stone facia for plinth, and pillars; timber for pillars, bamboo for roof scantling, wooden doors and windows; and country clay roofing tiles. 

I worked almost in all operations as a helper, from collecting stones, and from foundations to roofing, and later regularly attended to maintenance of mud floors, mud walls and roofing. This is a case study: All over India millions of people exercise self-help, autonomy, community participation, planning, maintenance and economy. 

In rural India children learn 'life-supporting-skills' at early formative age. May the elite scorn it as "child-labour", while pampering their urban rich brats by putting them in the best school in the city or a best in the country... What contribution the parents do other than spending money! Modern India has failed to create better model of education than  that has been existing in the past ten thousand years, in past six decades.


NOTE: 1. Images are by Remigius de Souza. 
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© Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Bee-Hive-Honey - Icon of Environment-Ecology-Energy

Apiary in Natural Habitat

Bee-Hive-Honey is an icon of Environment-Ecology-Energy, the Holy Trinity - EEE - in our times. Bees are where plants are where water is.
 
Bees gather honey and help pollination, to grow more food - grain-fruits. In search of flowers they scout hundreds of miles. Great Energy!

Bees build hive, beautiful work of architecture, of natural wax, to live in community, propagate and store honey, and
help pollination in plants. Ecology Conservation!

Indeed you can collect honey without killing the Bees of the Hive! Honey goes to Dining table / sick bed! Brokers make money. Economy!

 21st century doesn’t even reach near 'Bee Hive Honey' icon of EEE, a truly relevant model of progress and sustainability that perceptible NATURE displays and offers to so-called intelligent-beings - Humans!.

 Note: The apiary, developed by social workers of an NGO, is in the forest near Lonavala, Maharshtra.
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© Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Monday, 23 August 2010

The Idea of New Town: Navi Mumbai (POEM)

Original title of the poem 

 (Poem written on 23-02-1997: I was writings a review of a workshop, "The Idea of New Town, Looking at Navi Mumbai" (earlier New Bombay). While writings it I was stuck for many reasons. One of them was the stalwarts in architecture and planning from India and abroad attended the workshop. Sant Tukaram came to my help, and I composed the following poem. I re-publish it. )

Oh Vitthala*, while you stand steadfast
On a single brick, the foundation bestowing
Courage and joy through Gyanoba-Tukoba*;
There is no beginning – no end.

On the threshold of Third Millennium
Of "English" calendar, what are a few decades
Of life of New Delhi, Chandigarh, or New Mumbai
But specks of dust in a hay stack?
We have lived through cities thousand years old.

The sperms of Navi Mumbai were laid in an incubator
By an industrial corporate body, legitimized
By the CIDCO* of Swadeshi Raj here
Of your beloved Maharashtra and of the displaced.

Oh Vithoba1, your beloved people of India
Are blessed by Mother Earth for millennia,
Living in million villages, who nurtured and helped
To sustain cities of Gods, kings and Nawabs.

In the age of rape of Mother Earth
And ecological-cultural subjugation of the sons of soil,
Pushed them to the brink, to make a fast buck
While the sun shines, through manufacture and market;
The machine does not make maize neither milk.

Corporations know not "boundaries", – neither of values
Nor culture, – Their tentacles reach afar
Under different garbs and masks anew;
What are the new towns across the continents
In the name of urbanism – yet another mask?

Swarms of corporate locust devouring resources
In decades, what had been plentiful for millions
Of living entities for centuries, to leave behind
“Holes in the sky". City planners are by-products.

We witnessed the destruction of Hiroshima-
Nagasaki, calamities man-made with impact;
the shudder of earth that reduced Kobe to debris.

You hold aloft Kedarnath – Kashi – Kanyakumari
Through the times of turmoil, age after age.
Bhagiratha*  brought Mother Ganga to revive
His five thousand ancestors in peril.

In the age of annihilation unsurpassed
His offspring struggle to survive in numbers.
Will the sons of soil survive or perish?
Oh, Vitthala, Give your holy verdict.

In the era of contraception - condoms - abortions,
The steel-glass-concrete jungles of modern towns
Are sprouting, sprawling, swelling, multiplying
To celebrate triumph of "Post-historic-Man".
Will New Town, living a hybrid life on life saving
Drugs, shall be or not be an abortion?

Desperate planners are gripped in two-three dimensions
When Newtonian Age passed away hither thither;
In spite of revelation of Time and Eternity;
And half-truth of second law of thermodynamics.

Tied to a mill of self-cantered ego, they go in rounds
Endless, locked in cells. Will some glimpse liberate them?
Oh Vithoba*, It is time again to release Vishwakarma*
from the bondage of Indra*, we pray.

We recite the past, or speculate the future in mechanical
Actions; run into political impotency;
when confronted to the Present, take refuge
of numbers in perpetuity, dividing, sieving, grading,
degrading the humanity at the cost of creativity.

Now the "Bhasmasura"* of modern technology is let loose
Shattering the ancient limits only to defile and displace
Land and Waters, to eliminate the living entities.
New Towns offer man a life of hydroponics.

His tentacles reach deeper and wider through his weapon –
"The Cities" – to bring slow death to regions afar without impact.
Oh Vithoba, heed to our invocation to give us Insight
into the Present, the People, the Life, the Nature's Way.

At the end of second millennium, they struggle
In the narrow compartments of 2D – 3D to establish
Credibility; offer the urbanites "New Town Neurosis"
They are yet to awaken to hyperspace;
How could the planners be Visionary?

Architecture is poet's imagination to serve
The two in hundred of the world;
Planning demands vision in Universal Truth
Of a sage – of a humble farmer – who lives
In the timeless eternal NOW.
* * * *
Remigius de Souza
Mumbai
23-2-1997

Notes:

* Vitthala, Vithoba: Most venerated deity in Maharashtra (an incarnation of Vishnu).
* Gaynoba – Tukoba: Jnaneshwar and Tukaram are saint-poets of Maharashtra, India.
* Swadeshi – Self-rule.
* CIDCO: City and Industrial Development Corporation, Maharashtra State, India.
* Bhagiratha: a character from Mahabharata.
* Vishwakarma, Indra, Bhasmasura: characters from Puranas. Bhasmasura is similar to Midas in the western mythology. However end of Bhasmasura comes reducing him ashes by his own folly, which is inevitable. There is no room for repentance.

(Poem on the event, “Workshop – The Idea of New Town: Looking at Navi Mumbai" held at Coomaraswamy Hall, Prince of Wales Museum, Mumbai on 21-22 February 1997.)

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© Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Nold Egenter on Twilight Zone (poem)

Nold Egenter, architect anthropologist, posted his comment on my poem, Twilight Zone. on my facebook on 7 August 2010: His contribution enriches my perceptions on culture and civilization. I gratefully acknowledge his sharing by publishing his comment here.



Dear Remigius,
reading your Twilight Zone Poem I get the impression that there is a strange and mysterious affinity among us! Having lived about 10 years in Japan trying to understand its cultural roots I came to feel that there is some sort of basic world view which can be called aesthetic, or what you call twigh-light, "a window of a cell", a journey "on the border of day and night", "in the community of the Earth and stars".

I think it is a full fledge world in which contrasting units are harmoniously perceived, a tree for instance with leaves moving in the wind, its trunk and roots being anchored in the ground. I think it is a world view which sees all things in similar ways as composed of contrasting parts forming a harmonious tension.

I suspect that this was a very primordial "aesthetic" world view, which to some extent could survive in what we call art today or architecture, but, in its essence and its original significance as forming a harmonious world is no more really understood. It seems however, that one can assume that it was something of profound meaning in many cultures of the world, e.g. YinYang and Daoism in China, Om in Ancient India, Ma'at in Ancient Egypt, 'coincidence of opposites' in European Middle Ages, and so on. As an aesthetic world, this world also was of a highly spiritual quality.

But then something happened - which had to do with the formation of civilisation. The harmonious structures developed in the early agrarian sedentary villages were spatially blown up by some peoples who 'smelt' the power which could be made with these provinces of villages by superseding them, using their own str...uctural conditions on a higher level of states with similar centres now as large monumental sanctuaries, palaces, for kings and their social elite.

I am somehow intensely working on this topic at the moment, trying to understand how culture (not cultureS!) really evolved. Am reading books on Mespotamia and Egypt with the hypothesis that culture evolved in Neolithic villages in the sense above and then these harmonious "islands" were overrun by mad power-freaks Alexander "the Great"-style and that this is the history we are still in.... It is a fairly mad world, in fact, if one really starts to understand its "mechanisms".

All the best for today, Cordially,
Nold Egenter

7 August 2010  

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© Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Civilisation Trap in the 21st Century

GREAT CIVILIZATIONS AND EMPIRES have vanished, but people prevail. However Industrial Civilization, from ‘Jenny’ to ‘Dolly’, monopolises resources of the Earth, and seems to be in great hurry to wipe out all living beings including fellow humans, to earn powers and profit.

 It takes the role of god-the-creator to create enormous wealth and enormous waste with tools of science, technology, market and economy. That too, of course, whether in big or small nations or societies, shall vanish, by its “over-specialisation”.

Thankfully, the majority of the world still sustain outside the capitalist / socialist economy, though the industrial civilization, through its puppets, tries hard to bring them into its dragnet.

It has created enormous number of institutions to take control of almost every aspect of personal and the collective living that end up their autonomy of decision-making and action, therefore, identity.

In such a situation, can I be autonomous? Not until I reflect upon what I eat and wear and patronise, and why, until the end of all rationale beyond the most publicised term ‘Global’. Then there is possibility of creative action/ inaction. That’s what “Local” means.

(21.06.2005)
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© Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.