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Envisioning Delhi's urban future

Sentinel Digital DeskBy : Sentinel Digital Desk

  |  11 Feb 2015 12:00 AM GMT

Amit Kapoor

One of the greatest shifts the modern world has seen is in the context of urbanization with more than 50 percent of the world population now residing in urban centers. Some of this is due to an ever-increasing influx of people in urban areas and also in some cases due to the creation of newer agglomerations with modern planning and global capital. Cities as institutions have been extremely resilient and successful. Very few cities die in comparison to say a relatively recent innovation in human history, i.e., corporations. Some cities date back to several millennia Before Christ (BC). Historically, Chi has just witnessed to the biggest migration in the human history with some 440 million people moving to eastern and southern coastline cities of Chi in search of a better life from the 1979-2009 period.

But some of the recent reports point to the fact that Chi has a massive problem of pollution in its cities. Dense smog is a major problem impacting not only visibility, but also having an adverse effect on the health of residents. India being the second most populous country after Chi with approximately one third Chi’s land has traditiolly had a sluggish pace of urbanization with just over 31 percent of the people residing in urban areas in 2011. This is all set to increase with some 600 million urban residents by 2031. India’s problems in urbanization are similar to those of Chi, especially with respect to pollution. Already, Delhi is one of the most polluted cities in the world with smog a frequent reality and few people remembering that a river ‘flows’ through the city.

Delhi is one of the oldest and one of the largest urban agglomerations in India along with Bombay (now Mumbai). It also qualifies for the ‘megacities’ tag with some 16.78 million people residing in the NCT of Delhi as per census 2011. The city has been continuously inhabited for at least the past two millennia. Delhi took shape in its modern form in the early part of the 20th century with a prominent British architect designing a part of the city. Delhi today has several layers of history embedded in it that are visible in the monuments and historical places within the city as also in the lives and struggles of its residents.

The city has reimagined itself several times in the past most prominently in the early part of the 20th century when it was made the capital of India. Post-independence it remained the ‘political capital’ of India with its power circles, elite and bureaucratic setup. It is still the political center in India with the seat of the union government.

The city has for quite some time now in need of a new consensus of sorts for facing its urban future. The recently concluded elections have provided some interesting insights not only into the political process at the ‘heart of India’ but also reflected the challenges and opportunities that lie in the years ahead. Irrespective of whosoever forms the government in Delhi, the governce especially with respect to treatment of citizens will have to improve at all levels. IANS

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