Surviving Urban Transformation

JU News Desk
Published: November 2016

New insights to cope with rapid urban transformation of metro cities emerge in a conference organized by the University.

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A conference on Contemporary Issues and Trends in Urban Transformation and a collaborative exhibition on Visual Documentation of Urban Transformation – Bangalore were organized by the Department of Cultural Studies on September 12 and 13 at the Knowledge Campus of Jain University.

The conference and exhibition were a part of the research project, Changing Dynamics of the Suburbs in the Process of Urban Transformation with reference to the changing socio-economic scenario of Bangalore, that was awarded to the Department of Cultural Studies by the Indian Council of Social Science Research (ICSSR), New Delhi.

Urban transformation can be seen across the world with cities changing rapidly in response to urbanization. Migration of people due to economic growth, educational and other opportunities, urban settlements, nuclear family, community living and public spaces play an important role in the growth pattern of cities. Urban transformation also plays a vital role in the economic development and socio-cultural transformation of a city. Trends in urban transformation can be seen changing the dynamics of suburbs, community living, peoples’ participation in the development of their neighbourhood, work and entertainment.

Bangalore is recognized as one of the fastest growing cities globally. Although the city is known for its ever changing trends, business practices, infrastructure development and increase in suburban growth, it is facing challenges in urban transformation.

urban-1Dr. Choodamani Nandagopal, Dean, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, Jain University introduced the theme of the conference during the inaugural session. She spoke on Urban Transformation – Dynamics of Suburbs of Bangalore City.

The two-day conference witnessed various stakeholders in urban growth and development sharing their ideas. Dr. A Ravindra, IAS (Retd.), who delivered the keynote address, spoke about the rapid transformation of Bangalore. “We are on the brink of an urban revolution. We can no longer afford to ignore the growing needs of the city,” he said. While Dr. Arun Raj, Superintending Archaeologist, Bangalore Circle touched upon heritage sites and the pressure on them due to urbanization, Dr. AK Jain, Former Commissioner (Planning) Delhi Development Authority shared his perspectives on Bangalore’s visual landscape and the curated exhibition.

Paintings by Jain University scholars were presented as mementoes to the guests and dignitaries.

Following the inaugural session, Dr. Choodamani and her research team – Dr. Vibhavari, Dr. Shreedhar and Dr. Soumya discussed the suburban culture, effects of modern modes of transportation such as the metro on suburban transformation, how the population in core areas has reduced while the suburban population has increased, and festivals celebrated in Bangalore and the suburbs.

Dr. Gayatri, Former Director, Palace Archives, Mysore traced the development of Bangalore from the establishment of Kempegowda in the 16th century to the metropolis it is today. She also dwelt on how a massive famine and plague in the late 19th century lead to a mass movement of people from surrounding areas to Bangalore leading to the expansion of the City. Old sketches and photos were shared with the audience.

Dr. Kala Seetharam Sridhar, Professor, Centre for Research in Urban Affairs, Institute of Social and Economic Change spoke on the trends in suburbanization of population, determinants of this movement and the consequences therein, emphasizing on the “flight from blight” syndrome that has led to the movement of population.

The conference on the second day centred around talks on Urban transformation in metro cities of India such as Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata and Chennai, Dynamics of cityscapes – Architecture of Bangalore and Land use pattern and Urban design. Dr. Vibhavari welcomed and introduced the speakers on the second day.

urban-2Dr. AK Jain took the audience on a journey of Delhi through the ages – from the early days to Shahjahanabad and Lutyens Delhi to the post-independence period. He touched upon how demographics has contributed to the growth of the city. Statistics on population growth, and modes of transportation and automobiles were shared.

Ms. Uma Adusumilli, Chief of Planning Division, Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) spoke about the trends in resources, jobs, female participation in the workforce and distribution of population between the metropolitan area and the suburbs. She also spoke about strategies that could increase the uptake of rented houses reducing and move people from slums to small flats.

Mr. Ranjan Chatopadhyay, Additional Director, Project Planning Unit, KMDA shared insights into the transformation of the Kolkata metropolitan area and suburbs due to economic changes over the last five decades, along with changes in demographics, population density, transportation modes, road network and expansion of the mass transit system. “Railways simulated the first mass movement from and to the suburbs of Kolkata,” he said.

Mr. Raja Manickam, Senior Planner (Transport) Chennai Metropolitan Development Authority discussed factors such as road infrastructure, redevelopment and conversion of manufacturing units into IT units in the development of suburbs. “The focus should be on moving people, not vehicles through complementing systems.”

Ar. Krishna Rao Jaisim, Founder, Jaisim Fountainhead talked about his vision of emerging living spaces, new resource patterns and futuristic transportation modes. He shared his thoughts on diverse topics including education systems, cross-border movements, safety, sustainability, land prices, flats, jails, parks and urban planning.

Ar. Naresh Narasimhan, Principal Architect, Venkataraman Associates threw light on what urban designers do and what can make a difference to the cities. He spoke of the city’s villages, water bodies, boulevards, pre-independence buildings and parks.

On the sidelines of the conference, a panel discussion on Trends in Urban Transformation – Bangalore City was also held. Dr. Priya Narayanan, Assistant Professor, School of Earth Sciences, Central University, Gulbarga; Ar. Sathya Prakash Varanasi, INTACH Bangalore; Dr. Samuel Paul, Founder, Public Affairs Center; Ar. Krishna Jaisim and Dr. Sandeep Shastri, Pro Vice Chancellor and Director of its Centre for Research in Social Sciences and Education participated in the discussion, which dwelt on various issues that Bangalore faces. It was moderated by Ar. Naresh Narasimhan.

Besides the various sessions and panel discussion, an informative exhibition on Visual Documentation of Urban Transformation – Bangalore was organized by the Cultural Studies Department of Jain University and ICSSR in collaboration with the Archaeological Survey of India, Bangalore Circle, Karnataka State Archives Department and The Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural Heritage, Bangalore. It was curated by Dr. Soumya Manjunath Chavan, Associate Professor, Department of Cultural Studies.