Sunday, 31 December 2006

'i'ness: Graphic+Text

‘i’ness (graphic)
by - Remigius de Souza

THE GRAPHIC, ‘i’ness, as I call it now, was made around 1967 while I was staying at Ahmedabad. It was made on a wall-turned-black board with square line graph for sketching, writing etc. This is not an exact replica of the original. There were no circles in the original. They were there but invisible. The circles and ‘i’s are indefinite in numbers and at random places. The circles overlap and there is no centre. Ambiguities are obvious.

Do the circles suggest fields, or boundaries, or frontiers or a movement? Does the graphic show chaos within and outside? Or is it a landscape of mind? Is the ‘i’ a butterfly or a honeybee? Or does it represent an amoeba? The small ‘i’ certainly denies ego or a split or a fractured person. Is the graphic an attempt in self-discovery?
The ‘i’ is not an island but a drop in an ocean that evaporates, takes a ride on clouds, freezes on a mountain peak, falls in a pond, a stream, sinks in the soil, flows in a gutter to river to ocean, shines on a grass blade in the early sun-rays, but never lost.

The original has long disappeared from the blackboard, like a ‘Rangoli’ that is inscribed on a floor. There was nothing extraordinary to consider it as a work of art, or a formula in natural or social sciences. None of my companions or any of the occasional or regular visitors did any comment on the graphic. Like them I was also trained as an architect and a professional.

I remained ‘primitive’ in spite of my elitist education as architect and even though I moved in the elitist circle of professionals. I was looking at Corbu and others, and the works of the architecture at Ahmedabad and elsewhere. While my companions, colleagues, acquaintances were going to the West, I was moving with humility in the villages and forest habitats where the abodes, the languages and the ways of living were one with natural environment.

I had then come a long way, but did not fall for the masters, authority, religions, leaders or pyramids on my way. Though nonconformist I had been consistent at least in my thinking even in the trying circumstances, as it often happens while working in the organised sector that wants to maintain a status quo. I would rather move away and beyond, because I had seen not only two ends but also several of the world.

After decades I recall the graphic because a friend said, “I am depressed”. We all get depressed sometime or other for some causes. Why should a person be depressed? Stock markets are supposed to get depressed. Body and mind are just tools; they need to be revived, refreshed; they should be sharpened like a carpenter sharpens his tools when starting the work; they should be cleansed as a housewife cleans the utensils for the next meal.

Constant renewal of life is the nature’s way, so it should be with an individual and the society, along with ever-renewing miracle of love. A society – ancient or modern – that denies the renewal – constant renewal – of its life even in the third (and fourth) ecology, the society that turns love, gods, religions and humans into commodities, and monetises the basic needs, is a decedent society, which causes depression for its members. Life is larger than all the arts, sciences, religions and philosophies put together.

* * * * *

Remigius de Souza

because there was no room


'...because there was no room for them in the inn', is the greeting I designed during the Christamas of 1987. Twenty is the graphic I designed for the Christmas of 1987. Twenty years have passed since then, and not much change for improvement has taken place. Perhaps the situation is worsened for many, improved for a few.
People are being displaced due to development projects, floods, draughts, earthquakes Tsunami, riots, and terrorism. Any help comes is at its bureaucratic pace.
Remigius de Souza

Monday, 25 December 2006

Land and Peasants in Development in India

Land and Peasants in Development in India
Challanges of 21st Century
by Remigius de Souza

“Everything, in this world, exists in order to culminate in a book.” —Mallarmé (1842 – 1898)

'‘The evil that is in the world almost always comes of ignorance, and good intentions may do as much harm as malevolence if they lack understanding” – Albert Camus

(Key words: Land (with waters) is the source of Life and the sustenance to all living beings, and culture to humans. Peasants – the landless and the landholder alike, the artisans known as twelve ‘Balutadars’, and the forest dweller or the tribal, which amount to 800 millions including those languish in the city-slums. Development is an ongoing process and not an abstract economic theory. When means and goals are same then there is possibility of development: here land is the means and goals, so also the peasants. Environmental-Ecological-Energy Cost.)

I am browsing through Amartya Sen’s book, ‘Resources, Values and Development’ (1984), a selection of his essays from 1961 to 1984, republished in paperback in 1999 (OUP), after about fifteen years. Perhaps the author and the publisher did not see any need to include subsequent essays, if any, a sequel to the theme of this book, perhaps due to the restraints of economy.

At the start of the introduction, Professor Sen declares, ‘Much of economics is neat and elegant; but some of it is not. The essays included in this volume belong to the later category (p.1).’ It is because, I think, they are holistic. They relate mainly to development economics that take into account many aspects.

I, of course, skip theories, equations, diagrams, tables etc., as I am not equipped to comprehend; I look for fiction. I, however, find something amiss, something desirable to the heart of a peasant. Hence, without defining or theorising I straight go to an example:

In the Chapter 13: Rights and Capabilities, Section 3: Capabilities, I notice:
‘Consider a good, e.g. rice. The utilitarian will be concerned with the fact that the good in question creates utility through its consumption. … But that is not the only thing it does (p.315).’ he further writes, ‘Four different notions need in this context. There is a notion of a good (in this case, rice); that of a characteristic of a good (e.g. giving calories and nutrition); that of functioning of a person (in this case, living without calorie deficiency); that of a utility (in this case, pleasure or desire fulfilment from the functioning in question, or for some other functioning related to the characteristic of ice) (p. 316).’

As I read this part, I wander away from the book into the realms of my perceptions, experience, information and impressions that I gathered during my journey through places, events and time. It is also keeping in with an idiom in my native tongue, Konkani, “you need not check every grain of ‘rice’ in pot if cooked.”

Sometime around 6500 – 5800 BC, the archaeologists say, people in the Fertile Crescent in South-east Asia domesticated rice. That included a part that we now call India, Bharat, or Hindustan as per our convenience. However, even to this day the tribal, in the backyard of Mumbai, cultivate wild Jowar – millet – and use it for various purposes: grains for food, its stocks that grow 7-8 feet for fodder and in housing.

I take the example of Konkan, a rice-producing region on the western coast, where I was born, and grew up on paddy farms during my formative years. For a peasant, her homestead is the yard around her adobe abode with plants, fields, groves, grassland, hills, and of course, the community well, a stream, water reservoir if any; and a cow, goat, chickens, cat, dog or bullocks join her kinship.

During all the dry days, besides other chores, she collects cow dung, brushwood, dry leaves, which go for fuel and/or manure in a compost pit. She collects even the ashes from ‘Chulha’ – cooking hearth, and ashes from the burnt leaves and spread in the farms. For the peasants this is ‘conventional’ agriculture, which continues in many places. The western and the westernised call it ‘non-conventional’ or ‘organic’ agriculture.

In between, there are four months of monsoon that witness hectic activity at home and the fields – transport, process, sowing and caring paddy, other grains and vegetables.

The harvest brings the work that involves transport, process and storage. For example, there is a process for parboiled rice. Until few decades ago, they used the wooden grinding wheels (Ghirat) at home to remove husk, similar to stone-mill (Jaate) for flour. Now they take paddy to rice mills. They take home even the husk of the ground paddy. They feed the finer husk after boiling to the chicken / cattle. They mix the course husk in cow dung to make ‘govari’ – a flat cow dung disk – for fuel. Paddy straw is stacked in a mound around a wooden bully 10 – 15 feet high. It is stored for cattle feed during dry days, as green fodder is available during monsoon.

The seeds, paddy, parboiled rice and rice are stored according to the quantity in a bamboo mat silos, or in paddy straw bundles (Moodi). Silos are covered from outside with cow dung wash. The bundles look like huge pumpkins of about three feet in diameter. The paddy straw cover is about three inches thick when compacted. They use a hand-made paddy-straw rope to tie around the bundle, compacted by using a wooden batten. The vertically tied rope looks like altitudes on a map of the globe. Indeed, it was a beauty, a work of art (or craft!) now perhaps lost forever. Paddy straw is also used for roofing in some cases, as may be seen near saltpans to cover and protect the un-disposed stock of salt in the open, during monsoon.

This is a very brief description of few details of peasants’ actions related to rice in the example above. Simple and ordinary as they may seem, there is a complex interrelationship between resources, values and development, which modern economics may not have fully explored. There is much more: besides skills, tools, processes and products related to rice, so also number of other “utilities”, not only for livelihood, but also culture/s of peasants. This has been going on for generations, for ages.

“Consider a good, e.g. rice”, again. A few hundred miles north of my birthplace is Riagad District. Here, for example, in the coastal plains, the peasants don’t plough the paddy farm, but directly broadcast the seeds. They also use water-flooded paddy terraces to farm favourite local specie of fish, ‘Jitada’, by digging pits that retain water for few months after monsoon. People have used diversity and adversity both to their advantage discovered by ‘collective creativity’ and not by theories. In the land of great diversity that is India, what variety and wealth of knowledge, skills and practices must there be.

However there is no time or will among the ruling minority, which is obsessed with western-style ‘development’ of capitalism with a benevolent name ‘duel economy’, hence, no records of “Intellectual Property Rights”, which may come up or be ignored in future; every time there may not be cases like Basmati rice, Neem and turmeric. The theft and smuggling of plants and herbs out of the country that is taking place is apart! While the elite enjoy a status of neo-Brahmanism, the 800 million peasants are like Shudras, second-class citizens, an underclass; that’s ‘duel economy’! Without right empowerment how would the peasants care for the vanishing precious biodiversity?

With industrialisation, and without appropriate rehabilitation, it is not only the loss of the people’s knowledge, tools, and skills and the indigenous seeds, but also the loss of environment of the natural habitat. The ground water is going lower or is getting poisoned. We do not hear the chorus of frogs during monsoon nights any more. We were shocked to hear a hundred peasants died at a stroke in Karnataka by consuming crabs that had concentrated pesticides in their bodies. What will be the fate of the land, waters and the people when the SEZs (Special Economic Zones devised recently to take over agricultural farms in India) will become operative in near future?

The governments, at the centre or states, have shown total apathy for the past six decades to organise and implement rehabilitation of the peasants, while bringing in and supporting industrialisation with their ad-hoc policies, projects and the laws. Why is this apathy? It is only because the peasants and the farming communities in six lakh villages is not an organised sector like commerce, trade and industry, which can twist government’s arm at a single call. Are the peasants on their way out to annihilation? It is as mute a question as the peasants.

Perhaps the plain reason for this failure of the government is that the British Raj did not leave any formula as their legacy while parting; or it failed to invent any on its own; or it failed to imitate others. It failed because it failed to do necessary fieldwork. It is easier to produce nuclear weapons or space ships, at any cost. How could anyone invent a theory or an equation or a formula for application for such a great diversity and the great disparity?

Certainly, Sen must be aware of many examples as one cited above, and the anomaly thereby, as may be guessed from his writing. However, what will happen to economics, if it has to take into account the above example? It will have to count also the “Environment–Ecology–Energy Cost” (EEE Cost) of the conventional agriculture of the peasants, here and now, at least in the Twenty First Century, and revise all its equations and formulae, hypotheses and rationale. It will have to re-write the equations after assessing the “EEE Cost” of all the industrial products.

The example cited above clearly shows the practice is labour intensive, uses local resources, and conserves the soil regularly by its rehabilitation, and so far it is a model of sustainability. The capitalist society and its culture of production and consumerism beyond needs, and the waste thereby, do not envisage this aspect. Even by conventional system the peasants do not get a fair deal, even by the governments. The experts, even those rebellious against the system, are recognised by awards not by action. But who could guarantee the theories work? As Paul Valéry says, ‘there is no theory that is not a fragment.’

See, for example, the Census Survey of India 1991 (Census 2001 is not yet printed). It defines, “persons engaged in household duties, students, dependants, retired persons, rentiers, beggars are some of the categories grouped as non-workers” (Section 10, part 10.2). This seems to be applied to both urban and rural populations. How crude? Among peasants, the women share major responsibility at farms as well as home; the help comes from the aged and the children – students, dropouts, or those never enrolled. The peasants, even if aged, never retire unless invalid. The village data, if checked, will show substantial number of non-workers. See also the number of inhabited villages in the Census data. How do the people survive? Where do people go?

How reliable are such data that may be extensively used by economists and other experts and planners to shape the fate of the people, but never reach the peasants? The amazing fact is the government may approve to send a man on moon, but never sends complimentary copies of the Census Survey the Gram Panchayats so they can scrutinise its work: only the peasants are qualified to do it, but they are languishing in illiteracy – innumeracy.

The peasants are not aware of their status recorded by the government every ten years. And now Census 2001 is available only in electronic form. What would be the response of the peasants, particularly women, ho feed not only their families but even the nation, to their status of ‘non- workers’ along the beggars, in the country that is so rich in resources? Whosoever may be responsible, the hypocrisy is unprecedented, it has no match anywhere.

Having, of course, a will, in the modern times, and by hard work, the government can open many new avenues and areas to the peasants to elevate their skills, knowledge, livelihood, sustenance and self-reliance. Taking the example of rice, we name a few options as a reminder:
Rice husk: paper, cement; Rice bran: bran oil; Defatted bran: cattle feed;
Animal waste and farm residue: methane gas, manure; Waste water: filtration
plant --- algae pond (nitrogen-rich manure) / fish pond; recycled water: farm/ kitchen
Plantation: fruits /edible - non-edible oils /paper / fibres / spices and condiments / herbal medicine / aromatic plants /colours and dyes / gums and resins / timber / and conservation of vanishing species;
Land: conservation, restoration, use of soil testing kit, and as the subcontinent now is known
to be earthquake prone, to be prepared for self-help;
Waters: conservation, recycling, aquaculture, health, recreation, use of water testing kit,
and water management in the times of floods and draughts by self-help, having known that
the government help does not reach in time to save life and property;
Market: (1) documentation of their every action and input into their daily work, sustenance
and way of living, and derive the price-cost-value-benefit; access to (2) idea of modern
‘economic developments that are conducive to a proliferation of middle-men, where
commodities take over things, even humans, and prices from values; (3) work towards to
master the market, neither to serve or patronise it.

Having a will and courage, the government, as it has vast infrastructure, it turn every village into a Special Agro-tech Parks (SAPs) across the country. Taking a clue, if need be, from the West that sent the youth to the armed forces, or China’s example of ‘Cultural Revolution’, India too can develop on an indigenous tool, which is partially in operation.

Introduce a compulsory ‘internship’ of six months for all the candidates who go for Diplomas, Degrees, Masters and Doctorates from every discipline of higher education, without reservations. They must go to the villages and work with peasants and SAP, without any stipend. They should support themselves by using, and also testing, their learning of 15 / 17 / 20 years of formal education. (The likely fallout that there may be a countrywide wave of ‘bribery and corruption’ to escape the internship, or otherwise we trust the Response-Ability of the younger generation, irrespective of all the prevailing waves in the country!)

Deliver the “Pro-poor” products, not the promises.
Give them the ‘fishing-hook’, not the fish.
Be the facilitator, being democratic government, not a ruler.
Return the land to the peasants, by their ancestral right, don’t sale to the corporate.
Start six lakhs SAPs for six lakhs Villages of India on war footing.

* * * *
Remigius de Souza
69–243, S. B. Marg Mumbai 400028 India

Saturday, 23 December 2006

Indian Budgets 12 years apart (2 Poems)

Fence sitter's view (Year 1994)

Grand old Adam
From heaven
Of free enterprise
Wonders, watching
The acrobatics
Of the finance expert
How he manages
Indian rope trick
Of the annual national budget
In between the holes
In the sky, by
Terrorists' acts
And Bofor's kickbacks
So also, securities' scams
Until bomb-blasts sneaks
And Mother Earth shudders,
All of which rise on and on, along
The progress chart of GNP
Successively year after year.

In the arena of circus
The first rows
And the second rows
Are entertained with
Intellectual kicks,
While the acrobat makes
Those in the stands
Forget their woes
Back at home, awhile.

The Marx, the Thoreau
The Gandhi and Leo
Watch with thumb in mouth
While grand old Adam
From heavenOf free enterprise
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
(Mumbai: 8-3-1994)

Ways to Wealth (Year 2006)


Once a god adored adorned
many a head of door to an abode.
Now the gods take to the road,
beg for patronage. And the rich
beggars go globe trotting for
finance, know-how and trade.


Once the children of communities
cohesive received learning free
in the life-supporting skills in
branches of wholesome life-tree.

Now in the forward societies
they buy it at the trading malls
turning their clocks fast forward
until late to their adulthood
to earn their dough of uncertain
value to buy the living and life-
supporting services from expertise
at the thriving market place.


Now the bureaucrats – the masters
from the branches of expertise,
at their highest level of incompetence
in Peter Principle – take chairs;
replace colours faded of feudal-ship,
at the helm of the people’s affairs.

Now no wonder the prostitution goes
rampant and the pimps thrive on
as they make it quick with smile on
the by-ways and highways to wealth.


Now no wonder all the world children
– you and I, yours and mine –
are the cursed ‘unwanted generation’,
as much said, the ‘growing population’
by the stakeholder – the rational animal – man
as much done: the rape of Mother Earth.

(Mumbai : 04-03-2006)

Remigius de Souza
69/ 243, S. B. MARG, MUMBAI 400028, INDIA.


Thursday, 21 December 2006

In the wilderness

By Remigius de Souza

Perhaps I could sing words of birds
along smiling shoots of spring
in the company of mango bloom
and soothing green of cuckoo's Pancham,
and dance under the canopy of clouds
to the peacock's call in the backyards
on the pathway of Meghdootam
there in the abode of Saras;
or inscribe them on deadly diskettes
for the posterity.

In my mega-city museums, mummies
of birds celebrate sing silently,
in the tombs of Natural History.
Who shall cherish the memory
of my jungle of skyscrapers
and of glass-skyscrapers which scares
the heavenly eagles away;
of serpentine Metro that snatches
the abode of Shesha's descendants away?
Notes: 1. Pancham: Fifth note in Indian classical music;
2. Meghadootam : Classicle Sanskrit poem by Kalidasa;
3. Saras: a bird;
4. Shesha: Mythological primal serpent, the bed of Lord Vishnu, while eagle is his vehicle. 

Friday, 8 December 2006

Public Places, Cities and People

Public Places, Cities and People
- Remigius de Souza

QUESTIONING THE CREDIBILITY of public places in cities in space-time-people or in the historical context is inevitable. The urban designers or town planners, however, may ignore it, not necessarily on its merits measured in aesthetics in design, which happens to be a yardstick today. It is because of their institutional schooling and bureaucratic grooming.

The public places are a part of social services in a city or a village. Whether a new city plans show any insight into people or foresight in providing for the needs of people coming from diverse cultural sub-groups is a matter of speculation. We know that there are cities, which have existed for thousands of years. A life of century or two is a trivial period of time. We are speaking in Indian context.

Man-Nature-Ageing trio works over a public place, where the first intervenes, the second rejuvenates and the third resurrects it. When man lives in harmony with nature, ageing – the traditions consolidate it. This happens in the eastern cultures and tribal habitats, and perhaps elsewhere.

In the Indian (traditional) context, not by modern western values and standards propagated by the elite, there are two types of public places or community places for the collective or community. A fort or a palace is not a public place because of question of accessibility or control on accessibility.

The first is a sacred place: a way, a tree, a grove, a stone, a hill, a building as a place of worship – a temple, a mosque etc.; water – sea, river, lake, well, and the earth as Mother Goddess. Second is a market place, which is often a street or open ground.

Sacred places are sometimes invaded by the militarily powerful or so-called advanced societies. Now the economically powerful are doing it under various garbs. They defile them.

A sacred place is a grand expression of community participation by ancient unwritten convention. A place for Holi is a village may remain deserted throughout the year, but no one ever, not even a child defiles. A deserted looking place at Tarnetar in Gujarat comes to life buzzing with assembly of people and animals, vibrant with colours, music, and song and dance. It takes place at a well that has mythological connection with Mahabharat. River Ganga appears once in decade at Rajapur in Konkan on the West Coast of India, and ther takes place Kumbha Mela. Thus the third aspect of ageing of the place is conserved by tradition. Now, commercialisation has made Tarnetar into a showpiece for tourism.

In cities, however, Holi, Ganesha and Navaratri and other festivals take place on the streets. Waste, urinating, and defecation sometimes defiles the streets. People temporarily wash and clean them. What else can they do! Ironically these events on the street are celebrated with great enthusiasm by the lower classes of the society and slum dwellers. Commercial ads have come forward to fund the festivals in recent years.
Indian people traditionally love celebrations – festivals, fairs, feasts that are associated with customs and religions; synchronised with seasons, crops, farming, deities, etc. that encompass plant world and animal world.

In urban areas as well as in rural areas the public realm had been fulfilled by sacred places. Temple, for example, plays a vital role as a multidimensional institute in the life of Indian society. It function more than just a place of worship,. It has been also a school of visual and performing arts and architecture for artisans and sthapatis, − master builders, for leisure and meeting for the community.

In modern times, the museums, art galleries, theatres, cinema houses, libraries, night clubs, discotheques, stadiums, schools, universities, playgrounds, parks and gardens have come up as public places in the cities. These precincts perhaps compensate for the lost past of the public realm in the changing scenario due to the industrialisation and economy. Hence they, however, are accessible selectively.

Accessibility is the very foundation of a public place. It is the need to sustain healthy and cohesive community. Where the access is denied to anyone on any account to work, leisure, health and education, thereby to sustain oneself then the community disintegrates, hence the end of community. Then what is left behind is the residue of civilisation, a mob, a crowd. This denial to access may take place on account of caste, class, creed, colour, race, ism, sect, ideology, social / political status, or now privatisation.

A ‘Way’ is a sacred place being pathway of a Yaksha/Yakshi, or a ceremonial pathway. It is believed if the sacred pathway is defile than the Yaksha/Yakshi gives it up. The locals carefully maintain the sanctity of the place. In contrast a street in a modern city planning is designated to automobile irrespective of any regards to sacred passage by people’s convention, if any, either out of disregard for the so-called superstition or out of ignorance. We have known some examples: even the newfangled give sacrifices in case of any misfortune befall on a project. It is believed that human were sacrificed in its foundations during the construction of Hawra Bridge at Kalkota. Some streets in the cities often display a conflict of human scale and automobile scale. Street comes as a handy tool to vent anger, frustration, despair, revenge, and stress that result in loss of life and property. Not only people but also the governments are not exception. Jalianwala Baug – a public place – episode, and subsequently many others, is example of the conflict. At Chandigarh, the irate public, on the issue of Haryana’s new capital, had stoned, and damaged by breaking windowpanes, the Secretariat Building designed by Le Corbusier. When access is denied to sustenance, a street, which is market place for shopping in daylight, turns to flesh trade in the dark. A religious procession may turn into a nightmare. Just as cities are symbols of centralised power, the streets symbolise conflict. Culture then remains as a residue in the form of rituals.

Presently a street is not associated with people but automobile and follows traffic standards. They are planned for the paradise where people car ration is 1:1, aping the developed countries. On the Indian landscape the street for automobile is in conflict with human beings as well as other living beings.

A very simple example of rebellion has become evident in people urinate and defecate and throw waste along the streets in urban areas. This also evident in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, which is forested area, in Mumbai. It is a silent protest against defiling the Mother Earth– in a reflex action – by the ancient society which is backward, illiterate, superstitious etc. according to the educated elite society: they defile that defiles; there is nothing sacred about modern city or a city-street.

Water – among sacred places – from ancient times has deep association with Indian culture in general and woman in particular. The lakes, tanks, drinking water fountains, besides private and community wells feature in Indian villages and most of the historical towns and cities. But in the plans for cities and city expansions, water – not being ‘land’ – is excluded as a public place from the land-use-zoning. Water is now trapped in pipelines and underground or overhead storage tanks; this malady has now reached to the villages. Now the villages too neglect the water bodies and wetlands, which were built in the past and traditionally maintained, are now neglected. Of course huge reservoirs are built away from the cities as a utility service, not as a public place. As an exception, few spouts for fountains duly fenced and surrounded by streets at traffic junctions are designed and built to please aesthetic sense, a feature imported from the cold western countries through colonial masters. Either water is excluded or defiled, examples: Sukhana Lake at Chandigarh, which gets silted, and River Ganga continues to get polluted. City planners ceremoniously bulldoze even the existing water bodies, even sea, to make ground (to make money) or else defile the sea and rivers by throwing city’s waste.

Modern city streets, parks and gardens, which are sometimes aesthetically beautified and protected by ‘ticketing’, ‘gating’ and ‘fencing within fencing’ from the public. This does not hide the fact but is a loud confession that a large part of the citizens are pushed to marginalisation by denial to access because of insufficient public place. The State then feebly executes ‘access’, within ‘free-market-economy’, through public distribution system to absolve the marginalized and the displaced.

The idea of public participation in the aesthetics of a urban designer or city planner or an economic planner etc. through the standards, perhaps international standards, is “I decide; you follow” alike many other authorities and agencies that hold power. No wonder what is achieved is “Tughlaq Effect” in planning. We are referring to Tughlaq the emperor who was sitting at Delhi.

Is it possible to define space – time not in scientific or philosophical formula, but in the ground realities in the real life issues?

There is a massive exodus of people from rural areas to the cities. Most of them live in the slums and on the streets. This too is happening due to the denial of access to the resources, most of which are monopolised by the powerful minority. In Mumbai, for example, they are about 5–6 million, half the population of the city. By no means there is any sign that it would come to an end, thanks to the development on a fast track. They have rehabilitated themselves in the unrecognised grey-land-use-zone by secondary use of waste material from the city, and created a self- sustaining system by self-help. They do have creative potential which the use. Thanks to the blinkered view of the experts and professionals that they don’t notice it, leave aside public participation.

In the Development Control Regulations of Mumbai, they have come up with a formula that offers redevelopment of slums by which they can have floor area 2.5 times the plot of land; each self contained unit of 21 sq. M. area. Some genius brains also have come up with a formula to give them free houses. The lucky ones who got these free self contained tenements, in a multi-storeyed bloc, more than 250 units, still continue to use the street where they live as a public place to celebrate various festivals as in the past while living in the huts. The commercial ads fund them, in addition to the residents and the shopkeepers in the locality. Of course the locality hardly be called a neighbourhood.

Meanwhile the elite class desperately tries to create order and maintain status quo. It creates designs by aesthetics to bless the public place. Its aesthetics do not wonder at “how nature ahs unnatural ways” as Kabir says, “that the fragrance of sandalwood, aroma of clove, sweetness of sugarcane, but none bears flowers”. Or as Tukaram says, “the sugarcane is crooked but not Rasa – juice – Essence.” Gardens are clean and neat, manicured plants and well moved grass, but no grasshopper, no dragonfly, no butterfly, no honeybee ever dare defile the supreme aesthetics propagated by superior race of Post-historic Man by trespassing it. Nor one does hear Madari’s – snake charmer – damaru, or see the acrobatics of a Dombari family anymore.

People at least see the stars and heroes in the politics and cinema-TV; they are selling dreams to people. But the stars and heroes of designing and planning are living on the periphery of the ruling class like the untouchables – Shudras -, they are hardly visible to people, almost a non-entity, though they are meddling with the lives of people.

Children, together with their families, see instead the Hollywood–Bollywood–Tellywood magic of the virtual world on deified TV that offers a ‘public place’ at home. Could city planners ever discover the essence when they have responsibility to deal with lives of millions of people? Could the modern public place endure Nature in space-time and grow in ageing for the posterity by accessibility, transparency, and accountability? Who could answer other than Kabir or Tukaram?

“Only we know the meaning of Vedas; others carry the burden on heads.”
― Tukaram

Remigius de Souza
This article was published in the Journal of Indian Institute of Architects
~ ~ ~ ~ ~
© Remigius de Souza. All rights reserved.