‘There Are No Full Stops in Delhi’

Express Adda

At the Express Adda held in Mumbai last week, Sheila Dikshit, Chief Minister of Delhi, not only brought deep insight into big-city administration for Mumbai — perpetually troubled by traffic snarls and steep rentals — but also the challenges that India faces over the next 20 years. In a freewheeling conversation with Uday Shankar, CEO of Star India and Shekhar Gupta, Editor-in-Chief of The Express Group, presented by Reid & Taylor in association with Olive Bar & Kitchen, Dikshit candidly admitted that just some years ago, Delhiites dreamed that the national capital should be a city like Mumbai. Corporate India listened in awe as she recounted how she overcame her challenges.

Dikshit, 74, passionately in love with Delhi, suggested that Mumbai could try its hands at the bhagidari model of governance, with NGOs and resident associations working closely with the state. She is convinced that big cities can be better managed if split into more municipalities — a decision Delhi took recently. The two states are primarily different, she said, but then, India must take the leap and plan mega-city states that will not just offer better job prospects but also a superior quality of life

On Delhi

New Delhi has just completed 100 years and, out of those, I have lived there for 74. I have this identity, affinity and love for Delhi that very few have. I am not just the CM, I am passionately in love with Delhi. The 19th century of India belonged to Calcutta, the 20th to Bombay and the 21st belongs to Delhi. I am proud of the fact that the Delhi Metro has completed 192 km and, in the next three or four years, it will be 320 km, moving on towards Gurgaon and Noida. We have both the advantage and disadvantage of these satellite towns, it has taken a lot of burden off us but it has also put a lot of burden on us. I shudder to think what Delhi would have been if it did not have Noida or Gurgaon.

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