RESPONSIVE URBAN PLANNING: COVID-19 A TURNING POINT FOR REAL CHANGE IN INDIAN CITIES
Geography and You|Issue 146, 2020
The global challenge of COVID-19 is still unfurling. States are grappling to control its remorseless spread with varied success and its impact both on long and short-term scales are still being understood. However, a distinct urban bias in its spread across the globe and universal response of lockdown and social distancing for its control has brought pertinent questions to the fore. Urban planning and the future of our cities in terms of urban life and city form therefore needs to be revisited. In India, the exodus of migrant workers from its large cities has added yet another dimension to this challenge.
Kanika Basu

The current pandemic and search for an effective solution reminds us that the genesis of modern urban planning can be attributed to communicable diseases and health concerns. Recent literature on urban planning deliberating on COVID19 impact in cities, reminisces that many iconic interventions in city planning and management have been in response to diseases. Ian Klaus talks about the London’s Metropolitan Board of Works and mid-19th century sanitation systems that developed in response to public health crises such as cholera outbreaks (Klaus 2020). Rogier van den Berg argued that housing regulations in view of light and air requirements was introduced as a measure to fight against respiratory diseases in overcrowded slums in Europe during industrialisation (Berg 2020). According to Sara S Carr public parks became more popular as tuberculosis swept through the US at the turn of the 20th century (Carr 2014). Tuberculosis in fact influenced a lot of architecture and urban planning right up to the 1960s, especially in modern public housing in the USA. Sam Lubell in his analysis attributes slum clearance and single-use zoning— separation of residential and industrial, to the health challenges in the early 20th century (Lubell 2020).

The compact city argument

The last few decades of urban planning have been dominated by thoughts and approaches that perceived density as the panacea for all urban challenges from affordable housing, energy efficient mobility, to economic growth and sustainability. Its origin can be traced to the compact city concept and approach in urban planning. Although, the term 'compact city’ was first coined in 1973 by George Dantzig and Thomas Saaty, according to Randal O’Toole, Le Corbusier with his Radiant City plan is one of the first protagonist of the compact city concept (O’Toole 2009). Essentially an anti-thesis of low-density suburb development, the concept experienced a resurgence of interest in 1980s as a response to the global challenge to sustainability goals and climate change concerns. The term compact city does not have a universally accepted definition. It is a combination of many strategies with the overarching aim to create compactness and high density that can avoid all the problems of modern cities and urban sprawls. The single most important attribute to describe a compact city is the population density supported by concepts like mixed land use with higher density, geographic limit of the city boundary, and promotion of public transport as mode of communication vis-à-vis private vehicles.

The concept was endorsed by the United Nations Earth Summit Agenda 21 (1993) and European Commission through its publication ‘Cities of Tomorrow’ that emphasised the importance of a compact urban form as a sustainable strategy for future urban development. The compact city approach was adopted by many European states and gained popularity. It also attracted fair share of criticism from a group of urban planners who questioned the perceived benefits of urban compactness through densification (O’Toole 2009). Analytical studies cautioned against hyper density and advised viable settlements at optimal densities for the human scale…” (Salingaros 2006). Similar view is reiterated in Erling Holden analysis of Norwegian towns of Greater Oslo and Forde that concludes “sustainable urban development points towards decentralised concentration—relatively small cities with a high density and short distances between houses and public/private spaces (Holden 2004).

Continue reading your story on the app

Continue reading your story in the magazine

MORE STORIES FROM GEOGRAPHY AND YOUView All

WILD MEAT AND WET MARKETS: A GLOBAL DIALOGUE

Wet markets operate in most Asian countries including India. China reported its wet markets as the epicentre of the Covid-19 outbreak in Wuhan and also more recently in Beijing. These wet markets, a traditional part of popular local culture in Asian countries, are increasingly becoming a cause of concern for the international community and health practitioners across the globe. This article attempts to understand how global authorities and their Asian partners are looking to regulate these infamous wet markets to significantly lower the risk of viral and other pathogenic load from these unhygienic wet markets.

8 mins read
Geography and You
Issue 146, 2020

SEA WALL IN THE MALDIVES AND ITS SUSTAINABILITY

The Small Island developing states are particularly vulnerable to the peril of climate change. Sea level rise, increase in sea surface temperature, high incidences of drought and flood are some of the vulnerabilities that loom large over such island states.The republic of Maldives is one such example, which has been publicly advocating for the reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. Despite being one of the least contributors to such emissions, the Maldives faces the highest impact of global warming. Being one of the lowest-lying island nations, it has been undertaking various steps to curb the egregious impacts of environmental catastrophes.One of the response measures taken by the Maldives is the construction of seawalls. This article discusses this, while accenting the drawbacks and benefits associated with the approach.

10 mins read
Geography and You
Issue 146, 2020

TO PLUCK AT WILL: FRUIT TREES IN COMMON PROPERTY

Despite many governmental initiatives, malnutrition in India remains a major health challenge. There is a marked deficit of fruits in the diet of most Indians, consuming much lower than what is recommended by the World health organisation (Who). One of the reasons behind this is the high price of fruits and thus its inequitable access. As we prepare ourselves to live in a world marred by COVID-19 and a shrinking Indian economy, we must think of new ideas to manage access to food, especially micro nutrient rich fruits. This paper explores the possibility of planting endemic fruit trees in public spaces like roadsides and parks, that can help in increasing the consumption of fruits amongst the poor. It also attempts to analyse whether this can serve as a long term solution to bridge the gap between fruit production and consumption in India.

7 mins read
Geography and You
Issue 146, 2020

RESPONSIVE URBAN PLANNING: COVID-19 A TURNING POINT FOR REAL CHANGE IN INDIAN CITIES

The global challenge of COVID-19 is still unfurling. States are grappling to control its remorseless spread with varied success and its impact both on long and short-term scales are still being understood. However, a distinct urban bias in its spread across the globe and universal response of lockdown and social distancing for its control has brought pertinent questions to the fore. Urban planning and the future of our cities in terms of urban life and city form therefore needs to be revisited. In India, the exodus of migrant workers from its large cities has added yet another dimension to this challenge.

8 mins read
Geography and You
Issue 146, 2020

PAUSE AND REBOOT

REFLECTIONS ON ECONOMY, SOCIETY AND POLITY DURING COVID-19 GLOBAL PANDEMIC AND LESSONS FOR INDIA

10+ mins read
Geography and You
Issue 146, 2020

Migrants & borders: My wishlist in a post-Covid-19 world

Former Professor of Economics and Education, School of Social Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi. bkhadria@gmail.com.

5 mins read
Geography and You
Issue 146, 2020

Covid-19: Politics Of Knowledge, Public Health And The World Order

In the present era of a knowledge society, the world order will be shaped more than ever before by the politics of knowledge. In the post-CoVId world, public health knowledge is likely to be a significant contributor. This article briefly discusses the various contemporary public health approaches evident within the discipline: global health, community medicine and critical public health. Then it goes on to analyse country level policy approaches to the COVID-19 pandemic, delineating a tentative four-category typology, based on available information. Finally, it sets out the possible outcome indicators that should be used to assess the national responses.

10+ mins read
Geography and You
Issue 146, 2020

Inequalities in Access to Academic Spaces

Experiences of students from the socially excluded groups in higher education in India

8 mins read
Geography and You
Issue 142 - 143, 2020

Understanding Caste and Class - Categories and Measurement

The caste has been a unique social institution in India. It has also emerged in a new form after the mandalisation of caste in the early 1990s resulting in the extension of reservation to Other Backward Classes (OBCs) in government jobs and also in admissions to colleges and universities. The relative size of population of various caste groups particularly of the OBCs is also a matter of debate. Census does not provide population data on OBCs, however, it is possible to assess it from nationally representative sample surveys. Further, the correspondence between caste categories and class has been a matter of debate. This paper presents an assessment of class within caste categories based on data from nationally representative sample surveys.

7 mins read
Geography and You
Issue 142 - 143, 2020

The Middle Class - As the Class of No Class

An attempt to understand some of the ambiguities around what it means to be middle class in India has been made in this paper. It also discusses the influence that the middle class supposedly has on Indian politics despite these uncertainties.

8 mins read
Geography and You
Issue 142 - 143, 2020
RELATED STORIES

YOGA & PEACE

DEEPAK CHOPRA speaks with DAAJI about the role Yoga has to play in bringing about world peace. This is an excerpt from their conversation broadcast on International Day of Peace, September 21, 2020. That documentary is available at https://heartfulness.org/en/international-day-of-peace/.

6 mins read
Heartfulness eMagazine
January 2021

Create the habit of meditation

CHIRAG KULKARNI, Co-Founder and CMO of Medly Pharmacies in the USA, speaks with RISHIKA SHARMA about creating a regular meditation practice, so as to make it a habit. He also shares how meditation has benefited both his personal and professional life.

7 mins read
Heartfulness eMagazine
January 2021

SHIA'S PRIVATE TEMPLE OF DOOM!

Indiana Jones gig derailed by abuse scandal

2 mins read
Globe
January 11, 2021

Let's Dish

"Food Raconteur” Ashok Nageshwaran wants to tell you a story.

2 mins read
DesignSTL
January/February 2021

THE MAKING OF A MODEL MINORITY

Indian Americans rarely stop to ask why our entrance into American society has been so rapid—or to consider what we have in common with other nonwhite Americans.

10+ mins read
The Atlantic
January - February 2021

Interconnectedness

In 2017, DR. VANDANA SHIVA spoke with KIM HUGHES about the sacredness of the Earth, the work she has been doing to bring awareness and change in the field of sustainable agriculture, and the importance of understanding our interconnectedness with Nature, and how we can change the way we eat.

8 mins read
Heartfulness eMagazine
December 2020

DIAMONDS - A Luxury Gem Steeped in Fact & Fable

The diamond is one fabled gemstone! For example, google “Hope Diamond” to see all the legends associated with just this one stone said to bring misfortune to its owners.

2 mins read
Rock&Gem Magazine
January 2021

Women's World

Brown Sugaa and Medusa

2 mins read
Born To Ride Southeast Magazine
December 2020

Women's World

Brown Sugaa and Medusa

2 mins read
Born To Ride Florida
December 2020

CHINA DEMANDS INDIA RESCIND APP BAN AMID BORDER TENSION

China on Wednesday demanded India rescind a ban on more Chinese mobile phone apps amid tension between Beijing and other governments over technology and security.

1 min read
Techlife News
November 28, 2020