Friday, 15 February 2013


Fifty Years of Nation Building


Viceroy's Residence at New Delhi
All that I saw was a huge gate whenever I visited the place

LOOKING BACK, the event – 15th August 1947 – now seems an end, and not a beginning.

Symbolically and virtually, when the President of India walked into the Outhouse of the British Empire, i.e. Viceroy's Palace (renamed ‘Rashtrapati Bhavan’), it was an insult to her people, who continued to live in 5, 57,000 villages and in the slums and even below poverty line. Their fate was sealed as second-class citizens. There erupted a trade in a new guise to take over the feudal mastership, a scramble for power and profit, and a stream of sugarcoated slogans.

The intellectual corruption, therefore, cannot be measured.

Architects and planners belong to the same stock of rulers – looking for clues, inspiration, models, collaborations, and approvals… – and aid from the West or otherwise from the bygone past.
Who does care for the living present and posterity!
It begins with formal education, which conspires to breed a hybrid monoculture, far from creativity.

The only hope for freedom is the millions who silently resist, suffer, protest, prevail, sustain without coming into the fold of the ruling minority.  In-spite of the onslaught of the environment, ecology and energy at the hands of development planning that continues to fail (to bring wellbeing to the majority).

There is hope, if millions are taken into confidence:  if there is collective creativity which is an Indian tradition and heritage and a collective introspection.

There is hope, as some signs of change appear on the horizon.

The so-called Rashtrapati Bhavan Estates deserve to be returned to the people for the fit use of public fairs, fun and frolic and its part for a museum of enslaved past, for the posterity to learn from. Then perhaps the Indian Architecture of freedom and democracy will emerge?

(This note was sent in response to: “Write about a building(s) or urban development which you feel has had a lasting impact on post-independence Indian architecture”, a request by Indian Architect Builder, and published in its special issue, “50 Years of nation Building”, August 1997, p.69)

It took 15 years to realize part of a my wishful thinking. There is a news: Rashtrapati Bhavan Mughal Gardens set to open for public from February 16

Read More>> Urban Renewal in the Regional Context

Note: The image above is from Internet.
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©Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Sunday, 10 February 2013

Mother Nature With Us Forever

Mother Nature With Us even after Death as Soil or Ashes


The home of Mother Nature has no gods-idols-hero worshipers
In biotic - abiotic nature comprehend Supreme Spirit personified;
She is ever visible, audible, edible, tactile, sexual...
Progenitor, boon to mortals, Dance of Life and Death, too;
Mother Nature embodies one Language–Dharma–Scripture–Law;
She is Primal Guru–Primal School–Open Book, freely available to all.

Remigius de Souza | Mumbai | 25-12-2009

Mother Nature at our hand

Mother Nature does neither recognize humans as her favourite species nor their social boundaries and hierarchies.

Civilized Societies are so obsessed with boundaries that they decorate. add on ornaments, make memorials out of them and applause them, such as Great Wall of China, which is no more than a symbol of feudalism!

Similarly plants and other animals too don't recognize human societies' boundaries and social hierarchies. The domesticated animals - chickens, cats, cattle, goats etc. - too don't recognize them, except when they return 'home' in the evening.

Bacteria, in hordes, enter our guts when we start taking external foods, other than mother's milk, in our early childhood; they make colonies there.

Hopefully, we behold 'Nature' beyond 'greenery' of gardens, farms, woodlands, remaining forests, and wetlands; beyond Wordsworth's poems, Turner's paintings, beyond photographs / movies / videos for visual pleasure; howsoever advanced they may be, they are not alternatives to Nature,

They may help us to recall our beautiful/terrible experiences of Nature.

Life Sciences and archaeology, with their advances, also help us to know more about Nature and our place in Nature.

Perhaps we realize power and dreary aspects of Nature in cyclones, cloud bursts, earth quakes, lightening, tsunami and Climate Change (which is not fiction).

First observation of Nature

Any first hand contact with Nature at elementary and personal level is a good beginning, may it be watching self in body-and-mind; no rituals, no auspicious timings, no mantras, no special settings and sitting postures are required. Just observe with attention and compassion, as both body and mind are our tools and we are their custodians. There is no mystery; we are part of Nature just as the ‘greenery’ outside.
We can carry on this observation any time, or through out a day. 

Second observation of Nature

Roadside Sapling in Tree Pot
 We, Indic people, believe in Five Elements: Earth, Water, Fire, Air and Space. The best option is to observe plants and be in contact with then.

Better still for us is to actually sow a few seeds from kitchen in a small tin / plastic / earthen pot/s (at different seasons) and help them grow. No need to refer any manuals.

Every seed may not germinate. Watch them, see them sprout, take care, feed them sunlight and water. By and by, we come in contact with Elements, together with saplings, thereby with Mother Nature.

 Agricultural Revolution at Nature’s Lab

Ten thousand years ago half naked humans domesticated wild plants and animals, and Agricultural Revolution began in a most trying natural conditions.

It did spread all over the world (without Intellectual Property Rights attached).

Civilized Society did not exist then. Rise of Civilization which is also called Urban Revolution followed Agricultural Revolution five thousand years later.

Industrial Civilization was born just a few hundred year ago, where we belong. We received our learning on the Assembly Lines in Mass Schooling System.

Isn't it a high time to get acquainted with Mother Nature – Srishti?


Note: While writing this post I came across this blog-pot “Humans and Nature: Can the Gulf Be Bridged?” (The New York Times, Feb. 5, 2013). The very title shows how the west / westernized / the urbanite etc. is divorced from nature. (Please see my comments on the post.)~ ~ ~ ~ ~
©Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Land is Commodity in Modern Times

Architects, Planners plan, draw, paint beautiful 2D, 3D images, with landscape, served on a platter to public. In the course of time there came 4D - moving images - with emergence of technology (ET-IT).

However, a building becomes an Act of Law, when a project - a house, road, flyover, bridge, dam... or a city materializes on the land, according to the Law. That doesn't happen to texts/pictures unless the culture police protest and/or vandalize them.

How many indeed do see this situation beyond the standards and bye-laws? Or did I ever see?

This question has been following me for a long time. It kept on lingering at the back of my mind during the busy hours on drawing board and leisure days of long travels.

Sometimes the question would surface and quietly recede, leaving a tingling feeling, an astringent taste! I made several mental notes as well as notes on paper over the years. They referred the places & people together, witnessed across the life-span.

I also wrote several stories/poems – metafiction – on the subject of Land, Waters and Life. Each time the question would reveal some clue, stilt it remained.

‘Architect’ is a legal title in India for a few decades now. However, ‘Architecture’ is not is not subjected to legality!

The Land is under the jurisdiction of Land Revenue Act. Its label ‘agricultural land’ changes to 'non-agricultural land', used for building construction. Its tenure changes in the land records, which obviously it is meant for higher taxes. The law was originally designed by the British Raj.

Hence, Land becomes a Commodity. Our ancient belief / faith / sentiment of 'Mother
Land' — also as “Vande Mataram” depicts — , then turns into a mechanical ritual of 'Bhoomi Pooja' – worship of land – whether a cultural custom or religious ceremony. Its cultural or religious sanctity is long lost into oblivion.

None, either the orthodoxy or the religious, ever came to her - Mother's - rescue.
Wars are waged for ownership of land though. Our 'cultural police' are quiet on the issue for long, long lost!

The adivasi – aborigine – communities in India, and elsewhere too, continue to believe that 'no one – an individual or a group – has right to own the Land', behave and live for millennia. The onslaught wrecked on them by the civilized societies, for the past five thousand years, did not change their belief, behaviour and way of living.

Architecture - What is it? Basically a Shelter!
Personally for me architecture has been only a Utility, a means for survival. I don't hold that ‘title’ any more. I was, perhaps the 1ST “Idiot”, long before Aamir Khan’s movie, “3 Idiots”, came; I had unceremoniously walked away from the first day of final, qualifying examination.

They – the aborigine – believe, behave and live, 'Walk the Talk', whole heartedly in harmony with Mother Nature to sustain living.

Land Revenue Act and its instrument 'Land Survey Maps' have been more sinister than the black law, the 'Land Acquisition Act' that followed. It was a sinister blow to the ancient 'Unwritten Law of Mother Nature'.

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©Remigius de Souza, all rights reserved.