Cities/Urban / 16.07.2011
By Anjum Altaf
There are incidents in the lives of big cities that call for sorrow, but once the dust clears, no lamentation and no expression of sorrow can really do a city justice. A place that is home to millions deserves better. I aim to explore the meaning of Mumbai and then return to the salience of this latest incidence of violence in the frame of that larger context.
The meaning of a city like Mumbai is mirrored in a million stories. Take one, that of the renowned music director Naushad. Born in Lucknow and obsessed with music, he was given the choice between his home and his passion by his father. Naushad ran away to Bombay; the rest is history.
By Anjum Altaf
I see the future in India being shaped by the intersection of three major tendencies playing out in the context of one major trend, the difference between a tendency and a trend being that the former is reversible and the latter not. And there is one joker in the pack.
The three tendencies are increased empowerment of some of the poor via the democratic process, the recourse by the marginalized to rebellion, and the attraction of the middle classes to soft authoritarianism. The trend is urbanization. And the joker in the pack is economic growth.
Let me speculate on how these forces might make themselves felt over the next decade or so.
The challenge of global warming has brought us face to face with a stark reality. Economic growth is exploitative of nature and unless we make some fundamental changes we could be headed for an environmental catastrophe from which there might be no recovery.
Thinking about this issue has revived a concern that is even more problematic: Is economic growth exploitative only of nature or is it exploitative in general? In this post we will examine the historical record to seek some answers to this question.
The relationship of economic growth to nature is fairly simple. Starting with the post-industrial era (which is not much more than a quarter of a millennium old at most) economic growth has relied upon the use of fossil fuels and the rate at which greenhouse gasses have been discharged into the atmosphere, we now find, is environmentally unsustainable.