Friday, February 08, 2008

The Nano and our cities

...all of us should be asking questions about what needs to be done to make our cities better places to live in, as far as mobility and access are concerend. Most of our travel trips in cities are for the purposes of work and education. What about a policy of common neighbourhood schools for all children and the provision of safe space, for walking and cycling? As far as travel to work is concerned, most large Indian cities have multiple business districts and are expanding at the periphery, so that the vast majority of travel is of distances less than 10 km.

At a broader level, we think that our cities can be made into better places to live in if the link between the location of economic activity and the anticipated profit rates is severed. Further, land needs to be publicly owned and democratically managed; the investment process needs to be guided not by profit expectations but by the objective of satisfying the needs of the people. This is of course a different kind of dream, not the kind that is dreamt of by those who want to preserve the easy personal mobility and access that they have secured exclusively for themselves and do not want the Nano to extend this privilege a wee bit further down the line.

Extracted from the editorial "Of Nanos and Cities" in the Economic & Political Weekly, 19 January 2008. The full article is available here. If its inaccessible, email (see profile) your request to receive a pdf copy.

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