A Republic of cities
- 2007 Ajmer dargah blast case: Two sentenced to life imprisonment by Special NIA court
- Maharashtra Assembly ruckus: Speaker suspends 19 MLAs till December 31
- Supreme Court adjourns hearing in Babri Masjid demolition case
- Uttar Pradesh: Three mutton shops allegedly set on fire in Hathras
- RK Nagar bypoll: Election Commission to decide which AIADMK faction gets poll symbol
Independent India was built, imagined and judged by its villages; by gram swaraj. The nation was rarely, if ever, imagined by its founders to be led (Chandigarh aside) by its cities. Cities were spaces of the other — of colonial empires and cantonments, of a modernity that had come first in the garb of colonialism — separate from the "inner" nation, which, authentic and unsullied, lived on in the villages. As Nehru once famously said: "we want to urbanise India's villages; not take away the people from villages to towns."
This ambiguity over the city and the reductive stereotypes it inhabits has had a long innings; and yet has begun to change. The urban has begun to rise not just demographically but politically, electorally, socially, culturally and economically to become the defining problem space of the "new India".
What Mumbai's taxi drivers remind us of, however, is that this emergence is a deeply contested and fraught one.
This is only the latest contest in a series that will continue as
India urbanises. A long-held myth holds that urban conflicts are economic and technical
ones over resources and infrastructures while rural conflicts centre more on identity and community politics. The corresponding myth is that urban challenges require better technical planning and governance, not political or cultural interventions. It is time to put these myths to rest.
As resident welfare associations lead public interest litigations against the poor for being "dirty" and "criminal"; as Mumbai's taxi drivers must learn Marathi; as the Sri Rama Sene polices southern Karnataka's streets to ensure cultural purity; as anti-migrant, anti-Bangladeshi and anti-poor campaigns dot our urban landscapes; as malls are allowed to encroach on protected forest areas and protected forest areas are allowed to encroach on the homes of the poor; as imaginations of the world-class city transform built environments and budget lines, it is time to realise that politics has come to the city.
- The duty to practise tolerance
- New National Health Policy checks some boxes but sidesteps basic concerns
- TV went delirious chasing Uttar Pradesh’s new chief minister
- For India to strengthen itself, cobwebs of the Left’s borrowed ideas must be cleared
- Turn searchlight inward
- PM Modi will need to change how different parts of government relate to each other