Posts Tagged ‘India

‘Political parties are driving our land scams’

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An interesting retrospective in the too familiar arena of Indian Politics from Charles Correa .

This article is from the Tehelka Magazine, Dated Sept 13, 2008. Image via NATIW

Our cities are out of control. Literally. But there are ways of fixing them. Architect Charles Correa dissects how for ANASTASIA GUHA

Charles Correa, 78, architect, activist and pioneer in Third World urban planning, is also angry. At the systematic way in which political parties are destroying Indian cities; at the smug inefficacy of NGOs that are doing little to save them. Correa is well placed to know what besieges our cities. Among many things, he has been Chairman of the National Commission on Urbanisation as well as the Chief Architect of Navi Mumbai. Sitting now in his impeccable sea-facing flat on Nepean Sea Road, South Mumbai, he argues strongly for a complete overhaul in the way cities are managed. Civil society, he argues, can do very little except make a noise because no one izs answerable to them. A much more radical change is needed. Excerpts:

Why are land scams increasing in so many cities across India?
Because our political parties are using urban real estate as a prime source for finances. Of course, some money stays in some people’s pockets, but the engines driving this corruption are not individuals — they are the political parties themselves.

Like the SEZs in Goa? Yes, that’s a very good example. Goa, an honest society for hundreds of years, has become extremely corrupt in a breathtakingly short period — just over a decade. How did this come about — and so quickly? Individual corruption is not enough. No, the main actors have been the political parties — and their need for funds. So any local politician, especially an ambitious one, soon learns how to earn ‘brownie points’ with the party bosses in Delhi.

But didn’t this always happen?
No, right up to the late 60s, industrialists financed political parties (a pattern that might have started with the Birlas and the Freedom Movement). Then during the Emergency, someone realised there were much bigger percentages in defence contracts. In fact, those kickbacks are astronomical. But because the CMs of the states don’t have access to these funds, they have to exploit urban real estate. In the process, they are ruining our cities.

But why doesn’t the Opposition expose what is going on?
Because every political party needs all the money it can get — and they believe, quite correctly, that their time will come next. In that sense, Mumbai is like a great milch cow, waiting to be exploited. In fact, one of the biggest perks you get when you are elected CM is the opportunity to loot the principal cities of the state — with hardly any accountability. For instance, the CM of Maharashtra, who makes all the major decisions for Mumbai (eg, increasing FARs, changing landuse, etc), is not accountable to the people of this city — because he was not elected by them. He, and all the other members of his Cabinet, have been elected from some other villages and towns in the state. So they have no reason to pay any real attention to what the citizens of Mumbai feel. And the same is true of Bangalore and Karnataka, Chennai and Tamil Nadu, etc. And each state generates its own funds, acting as a ‘Profit Centre’. This has huge advantages for the CM as well. For as long he (or she) does not ask the Centre for funds, he can give tickets to his own chamchas. On the other hand, if he asks for help, then he will have to accept someone else’s candidates. So it’s in his interests to keep the system going.

But what about public opinion, and the role of the NGOs?
Did you know that India has the largest number of NGOs in the world? It’s a reflection of the frustration of the citizenry. But unfortunately, government does not have to pay any attention at all — because their re-election depends on other voters who are not concerned with this city. So for all practical purposes, our NGOs are just a form of cabaret, performing for the media — or perhaps for themselves.

How can we change this?


Continue reading the story at the  Tehelka Magazine.

Written by Vishnu Kumar

October 26, 2008 at 7:59 pm

A man on a tree

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Mr. KP Singh from Udaipur is a delightful engineer with a gleaming Colgate smile. When his clients came to him with a plot of land with a Mango tree in the middle, he refused to cut down the tree and convinced the client to build a Tree house. The structure that developed around the tree is a series of small cozy enclosures, with branches jutting out from the walls around. The Tree itself is load bearing structure and the house is designed specifically to deal with the local winds.

“My name is KP Singh, Kulpradip Singh, this is the house which i built eight years back, It has become a place of inspiration for many to realise that the tree can provide them not only the shelter but also the pleasure of living with the living thing.”   –  KP Singh

Images Via Honda Drive Every Drop

Via Pardon My Hindi via Honda Drive Every Drop

Written by Vishnu Kumar

October 10, 2008 at 12:30 am

Bangalore Express

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The Bangalore Express is a contemporary Indian restaurant in London with a very warm ‘Bangalorean’ ambiance so to speak, well Bangalore isn’t really the Garden City anymore. But, the concept behind the interiors is based on the concept of Bangalore – Garden City  and Express – Indian Railways.

Entrance is not too exciting, the restaurant sits on 103-105 Waterloo Road, with a few tables outside. But once you enter the restaurant it is a whole other world. The chaotic lines criss crossing over shades of green blending in with the timbers and furniture, gives it a urban-earthy feel.

Like the railway sleepers they have a scaffolding with a dining area on the top level. The customers sit in their little berth, crammed in for a more private conversation. Their menu offers a wide range of North Indian Food. Yes, i don’t understand how it makes sense at all.



This space is all about romanticizing India- Bangalore – Indian Railways. The language is clear – chaotic lines, earthy contemporary colours and crammed spaces between railways berth scaffolding. But the type of food offered is just disappointing.

Via The Cool Hunter

Written by Vishnu Kumar

October 10, 2008 at 12:25 am

Green IT Park at Gurgaon from Woods Bagot.

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Woods Bagot and ERM in partnership are designing the masterplan for a new IT park commisioned by ASF Infrastructure in Gurgaon, 20 km from the South of New Delhi.

The 2000 crore investment is located on a farmland of 20 hectares,and is aimed at achieving Leed Gold ratings. The project is to be completed in the next 5 years.

Images via Woods and ASF.

Written by Vishnu Kumar

October 8, 2008 at 3:17 am

B.V Doshi

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Found this trailer for a documentary on B.V Doshi by Premjit Ramchandran.

Any one know about this please shout out.

Can wait to watch.

Written by Vishnu Kumar

September 11, 2008 at 12:26 am

The Raghu Dixit Project

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Vishnu Kumar writes:

No banghra, no retro Hindi mixes, no cheap spins from some wannabe dj , ‘just pure melody baba’ (like my granny used to say) .

The Raghu Dixit Project is the new shit, bringing in old folk tunes, with new new sounds and lyrics from three different languages fused into a single song. Though they have been jamming from as long as 06′, they have only recently released their self titled Debut album with the vishal and shekar duo on the 26th of February.

Gaurav Vaz, Raghu dixit, Siva, Vinay, Jithin

Picture Courtesy: The Ragu Dixit Project Blog.

Their five piece band of Gaurav Vaz, Raghu Dixit, Siva, Vija and Jithin (as seen in picture) are the soul of the Raghu Dixit Project. They project itself is also open to collaborations with number of artists, a kind of ‘open source’ band. Though they classifying their music in the genre of “indo world folk rock” , i would say its a more of a folk-soft rock. The Cat Empire, an Australian band, has a similar kind of music and band concept.

Hey Baghwan.

The content of their songs is kind of what you would expect to read in a journal. Not very personal or emotional, but something like a of short story. The subject really connects with the masses, ‘in mumbai, wating for a miracle’, is a song that narrates a story of a man from the village searching for his place in the big city. ‘Mysore se Ayi’ comes forth at first as a beautiful little composition of a young love, innocent and naive, but then Dixit comes in with a ‘trrrrrrrrrrrrrrah’ which is just a killer.

They have also recently composed tunes for a kannada movie ‘Psycho’. These guys have the freshest tunes from since the times Thermal and a Quater. You can buy their 8 track album from Music Yogi for a reasonable 149 Rs. They still have a long way to go, and im sure they are gonna get there.

Written by Vishnu Kumar

May 20, 2008 at 4:29 am

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MG Road in India is universal, it is found in every major city in the country, integrating different states into a single force of cultural diversity. Named after Mahatma Gandhi, it is synonymous with every Indian. There is something about Mg Road (Bangalore) and surrounding areas you can’t find anywhere else.

MG Road, Bangalore, signifies what India is today, freedom, diversity and chaos.

Bazaar style atmosphere rains through this road, simulating the free markets that have flourished in India from the beginning of time.

Cultural diversity that can be sipped down with a beer at Koshy’s or finger licked with some home cooked anna-sambar from the back of an Omni.

Besides diversity adding to the chaos, 3 m wide gullies open doors behind every building around this region, which in turn light up, illegal shops selling ‘original fakes’ to the popular culture.

Written by mgroad

May 15, 2008 at 1:42 am