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in large numbers within small areas, is on the increase and in our sub-continental context such numbers run into hundreds of thousands and, in some cases, millions; simply put even our small cities are big and getting bigger. Large, small, big are, of course, relative terms, however, the essential characteristic of urbanization is the way-of-life and in our context there is a clear-cut difference in the urban and rural lifestyles. The dichotomy between the two is so sharp, so loaded with inequities that there can hardly be any debate on the definition of a city. People enjoy the benefits of the city such as jobs, education, health-care, social services, infrastructure, cultural sustenance, companionship and general societal wellbeing that living among friends can provide; it also has problems, transport inadequacies, shortage of energy, degradation of environment, prevalence of the inequities of wealth that sometime take horrific shape. Cities, however, keep growing the sum total of benefits must therefore outweigh the difficulties. If we foster and sustain the benefits they provide and reduce their negative aspects they might provide a more comfortable life. This paper takes the position that urbanization will continue to increase and cities will continue to grow, we cannot wish them away nor can we ordain them to shrink in size and change with the wishes of our middle-class-comfort-seeking-groups. Cities will not be pet dogs that jump through the loop or sit and behave on command. Cities of the future will follow out of the ones we leave behind; they will not descend from heaven. Some see the city of the future with horror, as huge agglomerations collapsing under their own weight, over-extending in their use of valuable natural resources and pollution-creating monsters; others may see in them the next stage of human evolution with human ingenuity coming into play to save the future and make it better than the present. It is rational to look at the question of what a city is, not only in terms of brick and mortar, but as method of living and working together that humans have developed in their continuing evolution and struggle for survival. Cities should be viewed in the context of human evolution and development over the millennia. Measure of a city cannot be only the roads and infrastructure, or the housing societies and estates; it is, above all, judged by the quality of life it provides to its citizens – all the citizens. This paper argues that the basic role of the city is to facilitate the growth of human society toward the next stage of human evolution, a realization of human values as applicable to all, and not only the provision of roads, sewage, drainage and buildings. 2) Birth and Growth of Cities The Human Family grew into a Human Society posing ever-increasing challenges of production and distribution of resources. As numbers increased food became scarce and human intelligence came into play to create new avenues of food production which could sustain the larger numbers. The taming of the bull, with castration, was an important development towards increased agricultural production just as was the plough to till greater areas to produce food and other crops that made for a more complex living and to support large numbers of traders, craftsmen, administrators, scientist, and educationist.
It had no monuments bespeaking of powerful monarchs or autocrats yet its large expanse. art quality. Humans invented the city as a means for greater production particularly through craftsmen and artisans. 3) Moenjodaro --. They provided the conditions and the intellectual ambience for human creativity to come into play and provide solutions to scarcity of resources. larger than Mesopotamia or Egypt. It was indeed a city where. parks. understanding of metallurgy. recreation. no celebration of the master and no denigration of groveling servant and no great awe-inspiring and terrifying gods tell of its high culture. dignity and happiness. second. The earliest example of city life in the subcontinent goes back to the Indus Valley Civilization. despite differences. are far ahead of its time. crafts. public health facilities and social relations and tolerance stand out as worthy of emulation. today we are a product of our colonial experience of turmoil and recasting of character. In addition to the question of physical survival.a city of peace. first the earliest known urbanization effort in the subcontinent. music. spiritual and psychological well-being contribute to development of human ingenuity to meet the difficulties in life. a Colonial City. Despite sustained efforts by scholars. standardization of weights and measures.Our early cities did all that and more. its essential qualities of human welfare. 4) Cities in the Colonial Period The Colonial intervention in India put a stop to the industrialization of the society and the consequent natural growth of cities. for. and drama. citizens enjoyed a certain minimum level of comfort. the ending unexplained and its unique equitable lifestyle unbelievable. Relaxation. Status of women. the importance of the pipal tree. use of gypsum and tar as mortar. also there is no evidence of large scale massacres to explain its disappearance. redistribution of the agricultural produce to support people engaged in activities that support cultural. Its rectilinear town layout. Lahore. Professor Mark LeVine of University of California writes (2007) that pre-colonial India possessed more than 25% of world’s manufacturing 2 . The quality of the infrastructure provided to all levels of citizenry was remarkably uniform. for humans to enjoy and develop the finer aspects of life. I propose to take a quick look at only two points in history. and therefore the understanding of disease being caused by lack of hygiene and presence of bacteria. It had all the attributes that a city of today can hope to have. There is not a single piece of art that celebrates violence or conquest. better management of the available resources. Every major crisis led to new means to overcome the crises. The script remains to be deciphered. dance. could not have been managed without an elaborate and powerful ruling elite. its understanding of clean and dirty water. and open public spaces helped to rejuvenate the human spirit. its understanding of brickwork and production and usage of 1:2:4 ratio of brick size. the Indus Valley City. Moenjodaro remains a city that eludes complete understanding. on the contrary there is much evidence of farflung trade possible only in peaceful environment. Architecture. as it marked a remarkable turning point in our history. It had harmony and unity that exhibits both in its physical infrastructure and its arts. Cities are a tool in the struggle for survival. where needed. poetry. reverence for knowledge and the Teacher. the city developed art. equity and harmony.
However the agglomeration of humans. when in opposition. the cities are a survival tool with the following four attributes which promote its progressive development: i) Idea Generation Where do ideas come from was famously asked by Chairman Mao in his essays on Philosophy. The fundamental facility that humans acquired in the evolutionary process which has resulted in their great saga of survival is Idea Generation. is number one. the Cantonment with their forbidding disciplined streets. native quarters then further divided into Muslim. From a country well on its way toward mercantilism and progress towards industrial production. An education that only strives to get marks or grades to move into the higher level and to ultimately 3 . perpetual and developmental. The colonial city was full of inequities of the worst kind.3% in 1980. We live in fear of our neighbors. the AngloIndian being setup as a separate slightly more privileged community. the Railway colonies with natives.W. India was pushed back to an agrarian economy meant only to produce raw materials for the rapidly industrializing west. continues to feed the colonial system. divided and divisive. In evolutionary terms. understand and conceptualize situations requiring new ideas. ethnic. Look at the barricades in Lahore and Karachi. There are a number of ways in which societies ensure a continuous supply of ideas to face the problems of tomorrow. particularly textiles. and destruction of climate in which we operate. however it is quite different from the education that our present system imparts. health. cultural. Unfortunately the post-colonial period in the subcontinent has further intensified the divisions. Lahore. of course.output which. despite post independence growth was only 2. Older native cities of India froze in time and only the new colonial centers of administration and colonial commerce became centers of growth with facilities for education. religious divisions became sharp with encouragement by the State and a general sense of fear and insecurity prevailed. They represent that essential difference between animals and humans viz the processes of the mind. and politics of fear continues to bear fruit for the communalists of all variety. seat of the Lt Governor. for example. 5) The four attributes of cities Numbers have always been a source of security and. pollution of the basic needs of air and water. both national and international. Sikh and Hindu neighborhoods. grew as capital of Punjab. colonial in origin. The process is cumulative. It is this quality that keeps them a step ahead of the ever-increasing possibility of extinction through over-exploitation of resources. Railway and Canal administration and a major Military Cantonment given to looking after the province of Punjab which at one time extended from Delhi to Peshawar. globalization. Centre for the N. think. They follow from the ability to observe. and recreation. there came into being the GORs with their beautiful ambience. The present educational system. Our society continues to be divided. is an opportunity to think of the future and find solutions to some of the issues at hand. from small town to the large metropolis. Communities barricaded themselves into groups. terror. Education. Society lost its inner momentum and for the next 200 years the country lived off the crumbs from the colonial table. in present terms.
Starting from the primary school our system alienates the educated. social contract. ii) Culture Enrichment A city brings together a variety of people from within the region and even outside. In our context it is difficult to see all the citizens participating because. Idea generation can only flower in a climate of freedom of thought. which at its height means administrative service in the government or the local tool of some multi-national. Transport Engineering. relaxed and recuperated ready for the next day’s work. wisdom and culture devoted to the development of society and becomes an incursive. is in trouble. working with live curiosity and freedom to think out. ideology. we have excluded the majority from the forums of discussion and debate for reasons of poverty. family. living styles. like the western consultants. is self defeating. music. iii) Space modulation – the Physical City As the work of the artisan. Debates on law. Urban Design. Public Health Engineering and a host of other important contributions were developed in the Western cities and used in the cities of the Third World. pleasure. Town Planning.secure jobs. Economic systems. Colonial mind set. joys of living. A city that is divided. as the society moves from simpler existence to more complex situations. multiply and sometimes become intense. as exposed by 4 . at present. Education ceases to be knowledge. governance. Without a society that provides the above freedoms. City Management. Such cultural enrichment of people feeds back to the question of the basic issue and purpose of idea-generation leading to a vibrant and developing city which can then solve its problems. assembly and protest. Increasing numbers meant greater complexities of transport. Ideas devoted to society’s progress can only come from people immersed in the society. literature. became more complex. Ethnic. psychological well-being. rude and coercive system. lack of education and any other to ensure our own supremacy. From school uniform to language of instruction it sets apart the educated from the great masses of supposedly illiterate people. racial. trade and production also generate discussion among members of the society who can then vote upon and legislate. who visit for a short term and give solutions for the long term. A tolerant culture sets the stage for cultural enrichment that the cities provide for the better lifestyle of all. for all citizens. and thus not at peace with itself. idea generation will not proceed and the society will be an apt target for foreign exploitation and rule by people pretending to be experts in their problems. It is essential to assure freedom of thought and action. garbage disposal and sewerage systems leading to special disciplines and bodies of knowledge developed to cope with them. work and home space got separated leading to factories where humans toiled and offices where they worked in addition to spaces where they lived. expression. perhaps the first building block of the city. and religious variety is something to be celebrated and brought together.of-the-box. poetry. reproduction. water supply.
cultural enrichment. Mega projects are launched just because they mirror something similar in the West. In the knowledge economy of the 21st Century the production potential of the cities is going to increase manifold. Look at building control: Nominally set up to regulate building construction to better build the city for the greater enjoyment and welfare of the people it has become a nexus of corrupt forces trying their best to break whatever rules and regulation might exist. Our cities and the solutions to their problems must be homegrown and will never be the same as those of the West. this strip of land on which people move. The early speeches of both Mr Jinnah and Mr Nehru visualize Pakistan and India as Modern States. iv) Resource Generation The fourth attribute of Cities is that they have become huge engines of production growing at an ever-increasing pace. In the context of the middle of 20th Century Modernization meant Industrialization which meant Westernization. is not the width of the road. however. Political slogans reflect the same thinking: almost every new ruler promises to make Lahore the Paris of the East. when new cities were planned both the countries looked to the West for Planners. Making small towns of large metropolises only works if there is a sufficient level of citizen awareness and participation. In fact mathematical formulas can be developed: if K is the amount of money exchanged under the table then the following results can be expected • K is inversely proportional to the time taken for the approval of plan ie greater the money exchanged shorter the time • K is proportional to the height of the building allowed beyond the rules • K is proportional to the flexibility of rules (rules are designed to have ambiguities so that they can be suitably interpreted) Decentralization is another bogey word.Edward Said. A major portion of the population is young below the age of 20. 5 . to cater for the variety of users and speeds. a rational environment will bring closer the promise of a better future. In Lahore we have the spectacle of roads that are being continually widened. the problem. that. No wonder then. they have to keep finding out where they belong. however refused to see the particularity of the sub-continental urban phenomenon. From being a burden on the hinterland. cities are leading the country in terms of production. if this tremendous resource can be harnessed and developed all the other attributes of idea generation. As a result solutions developed in the West were applied here but not always with the best results. instead of there being one office to go to. it is the variety of traffic which is a management issue. We have to rethink the road. and over-passes and under-passes built with only the automobile in mind. The division of Lahore into 5 towns has only added confusion and misery for the citizen.
some call it the first post-modern revolution. 6) Inequities. This is the end of the road for Market Economy.Developments in technology in the thermo-nuclear fusion process promise a world with unlimited energy at little cost. They claim to have saved their cities from ruination. humans may yet make the cities of the future places worthy of living in harmony and peace. for we cannot abandon the teeming millions to vagaries of the Market Economy. discuss. arrive at consensus and act. With some dedicated care. education and city management. The question of poverty alleviation and more equitable city is not a matter of altruistic thinking and action. unemployment benefits etc. An example is Zapatista movement in Mexico. their system is managed through a myriad of local councils. it requires a very special effort with a new approach going beyond the supply and demand framework to ensure that the poor too can have a decent life. They use global means of communication to spread their message and develop a network of sympathizers. Holistic thinking. People in the Mexican state of Chiapas. Capitalism lives off an army of the unemployed. jobless and homeless. It is absolutely essential for the survival of all the citizens. even the elite. Margaret Thatcher was the leading protagonist of such an approach and this philosophy has ruled the world for the last two decades. working independently within a strategic framework. characterizes the thinkers of today. thus despite its great riches. no central party. there is no central leader. Some fundamentalists of Capitalism question such supports for the poor and advocate recasting of economic systems to deny expenses such as medical care. In this milieu where do we stand and what do we do? If we restrict our role to only the physical/geographical and ignore the 6 . they rule by obeying. large numbers of people live in abject poverty. interdependence. led by the Zapatistas. They seek not power. The sub-continental cities present inequities of the worst kind and we face them daily. They meet. 7) Cities in the age of Globalization Globalization is breaking down barriers and has effectively ended the philosophy of specialization. Poverty and Failure of Cities In every city. Only a few European Scandinavian countries have been able to achieve an equitable mix of capitalism and social welfare to create a relatively harmonious society. For some years now educationists and research scientist have shown the limits of over-specialization and the harm it can do to the integrated human fabric. are changing the old and welcome a new system of politics. but to empower people. the great obstacle being poverty. they fight for human rights along with a consistent and clear ideology to save the environment. this is the failure of the city to live up to its promise. Fortunately here is now a deep awareness of the limits of Capitalism and people all over the world are resisting the neo-liberals. They consider that this promotes sloth and inefficiency. fighting the evils of globalization while welcoming its positive aspects. a multi-polar world that promises a variety of people with their richness of culture. the United States cities has a fairly large pool of the poor. for the alleviation of poverty. they are in the forefront of developing new approaches to societal living. . means of sustenance that promise to eradicate hunger and disease.
under-passes and such other gimmicks. That is not something to be tolerated. in brief. when we see the ultimate degradation of humans as outcasts. through government agencies or private bodies with people’s participation. when we tolerate this because we console ourselves with reasons of lack of resources. as most of our cities are. treated as animals. some rehabilitation of housing. especially since we humans are intellectually in a position to help the city to achieve its next stage in the Human Development? When a city is filthy. let us focus on humans and not just roads. Why do we abdicate half of our person. Why don’t we say enough is enough… this has to change. 7 . how can we remain untouched. as we see them aplenty in Lahore.sociological / human side of the city we negate one side of our personality. that is not what the city came into being for. when we see little children begging in cold nights. when a large number of its citizens live without the basic amenities of life. Under pressures of specialization we have constricted ourselves into a narrow rut. we restrict ourselves only to design of buildings and roads.
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