AHMEDABAD: The National Institute of Design (NID) hosted, on August 23, an interesting discussion on what shapes the cities of India. Organized by the Goethe-Institut, India, ‘Dreams and Planning: The Case Of Cities In Twentieth Century India’ drew eminent panelists like Prof Amita Bhide and architect Romi Khosla. They spoke on the two contrasting views on what master plans mean in the Indian context.
Prof Bhide, chairperson of the centre of urban planning, policy and governance at the School of Habitat Studies, Tata Institute of Social Sciences, spoke of the absence of public consultation in the master plans of cities. “In Mumbai, where 60 per cent of the people live in slums, the map of the city represents only the other 40 per cent,” she said. “Earlier, master plans were created after surveys were conducted. Now, studies done for other projects are used to develop master plans. There is major lobbying and secrecy.” Bhide proposed that the process be made more inclusive.
Khosla, who designed the National Gallery in Bombay, and the corporate headquarters for United Breweries in Bangalore, had a romantic take on the subject. Speaking essentially on the Indian capital, he said, “Delhi was an excellent example of a paradise city in the Mughal era, with its gardens imitating the Iranian gardens.” In its imperial version before Independence, it resembled Albert Speer’s Berlin for Hitler,” Khosla said. “And currently, it is a ‘trickster city’ that sells dreams, hiding its underdevelopment,” Khosla said. “It will very soon be a GDP city. That is how cities come into being.”
The Goethe-Institut’s Dr Marla Stukenberg and DOMUS India’s editor, Kaiwan Mehta, highlighted the work jointly done by the students of NID and Germany in the Heidi Specker City-Photography project. An essay featuring the project has been published in the August edition of the magazine.