Jain University’s conference on urban transformations throws light on the transition of Bangalore and other metros in India
Dr A Ravindra inaugurating the two-day conference on “Contemporary Issues and Trends in Urban Transformation” conducted at Jain University
Jain University’s conference on urban transformations
Interspersed among the sprawling concrete blocks of the city of Bangalore are heritage sites of yore. There are apparently ~25,000 heritage sites in and around Bangalore out of which the state and central governments protect only a mere 1200. Tipu Sultan’s armory that lies unprotected in one of the by-lanes of Kalasipalayam is a case in point. “We alone cannot preserve the heritage of Bangalore. It should become a movement from the grassroots and the society has to get involved to protect our monuments,” said Dr. Arjun Raj.
The Superintending Archaeologist of IAS, Bangalore circle, shared nuggets of information like these and more in the recently concluded conference on “The Issues and Trends in Urban Transformation” conducted by the Department of Cultural Studies, Jain University.
Protecting the heritage of the city is only one among the many aspects of rapid urbanization. Dr. A Ravindra, former IAS officer and current Chairman of the Centre for Sustainable Development, Bangalore, in his keynote address to the conference, emphasized on the need to have a unified vision for the city. “Bangalore is witnessing a population explosion. For a population of 10 million residents, we have 5 million vehicles on the road. The ratio is 1:2 and the numbers are only going to rise in the future. This demographic transformation has to be tackled with political transformation. The uncontrolled growth of cities and the unplanned urbanization in the suburbs have to be solved with good governance and the involvement of all the stakeholders. The voice of the people have to be heard,” he said.
The two-day conference sponsored by the Indian Council of Social Science and Research (ICSSR) witnessed many such varied opinions regarding the transformation of Bangalore and its suburbs. Mithilesh Kumar Singh, a researcher and an employee in the corporate sector had an entirely different take on the subject, “Governments should collaborate with the private sector and generate funds. They should make use of the CSR funding and enter into more public-private partnerships,” he said.
Dr A Ravindra, former IAS officer, taking stock of the “Visual Documentation Exhibition” held at Jain University
There was a visual documentation exhibition running parallel to the main conference, which was jointly conducted by Jain University, INTACH, ASI, and Karnataka State Archives Department. It was a visual treat for all those who took their time and effort to visit the exhibition. It was a mix of sketches, graphical illustrations, and documents, which recorded the transformation of Bangalore from Kempegowda’s era to the present day. “It is like walking on a bridge from the past to the present and from the present to the future,” said AK Jain, former Commissioner of Planning, Delhi Development Authority.
The conference also saw eminent personalities of other major cities like Kolkata, Chennai, and Mumbai providing their own insights on urban transformation. Ranjan Chatopadhyay, Additional Director, Project Planning Unit, KMDA, spoke eloquently about the transformation of Kolkata during the last five decades. Raja Manickam, Senior Planner (Transport) Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority, discoursed on factors such as roads infrastructure and conversion of manufacturing units into IT units. Uma Adusumilli, Chief of Planning Division, MMRDA, talked about the trends in distribution of population over the decades between the metropolitan area and the suburbs.
Transformations in itself are not bad. Urban transformation and the amenities it brings are beneficial to large segments of the society, but like every other issue, it has its downsides. Reaching a consensus on the subject of urban transformation is almost impossible. However, the general view of students and dignitaries who attended the conference was that events like these helped immensely in promoting healthy discussions and envisaging the right approaches for progress. In a city of perpetual growth and transition, the message to transform responsibly was declared loud and clear.