Pattern-evaluation of the compatibility of Global Pulses and Traditional Local Ecology
Fresh Options for Planning Mode and Processes in Developing Countries
A case study of Calcutta Metropolitan Region, India
The paper has been presented in three parts. The First part is a theoretical review of the theme. The second part reveals the case study in light of the degree of compatibility. The third part reviews the theme in similar situations around the world.
1. The Theoretical review:
There are essentially two causal factors have contributed to the development of settlement - one, socio-cultural and two, socio-economic. The region, its history, its climate and its resources have influenced the socio-cultural component. The socio-economic component has not only been influenced by the region and its history, climate and resources, but also by the knowledge base and levels of interactions with other regions. The settlement patterns have changed with the changes in the two factors. The adjustments required or the adaptability to the changes in the settlement patterns has not always been smooth. These jerks or pulses have led to temporary disorders which are smoothened with time and change and order restored. Order does not refer to planned and neither stable settlements, nor does disorder refers to transitional and non-planned settlements. In location-specificity, laissez faire can also be called orders.
In some settlements, this lag has been more than the others. In situations where the lag is more, order is more of a result of a balance between planning and laissez faire, than straightforward planning. This newly recognized solidarity is based on a notion of right livelihood - in which the aim is to achieve a maximum of human well being in conjunction with an optimum or balanced pattern of material production. This is a new level of wisdom, which needs both of:
1) Stability and change (pulses)
2) Order and freedom (pulses)
3) Tradition and innovation (pulses)
4) Planning and laissez faire (pulses)
This wisdom leads to our choice from a three-point scale of alternative planning modes. One, it is system maintaining mode involving a minimum change approach (avoiding any pulse). Two, it is an evolutionary mode involving a step-by-step incremental approach. And third, there is the revolutionary mode where planning is almost normative and its purpose is to transform a social system by redefinition of fundamental values or the pulse-itself.
The wisdom is also the very planning process where a balance has to be restored between the highly intuitive ‘delphi’ approach vis-à-vis the highly systematized, mathematical methods of multi-criteria ‘decision-theory’.
2. The case study of the Calcutta Metropolitan region: degree of compatibility?
The history of major pulses has been reviewed in the following sequence A, B and C:
A. Pre-colonial Calcutta
B. Colonial Calcutta
C. Post-Colonial Calcutta – evolution of metropolitan region
Physical and political patterns of pulses
A. Tropical mangrove deltaic forest with interspersed village settlements in the lower Indo-Gangetic basin (till 1690)
B. The colonial city emerges after 1690.
· Headquarters of British East India Company and later the British Dominion in Asia.
· Declared as capital city of Colonial India in 1916.
Loses the seat of power and global linkages to London after transfer to Delhi
C. Pulse of severe in-migration from West Pakistan (now Bangladesh) at 1947 (year of independence). There was a pulse of another severe in-migtration after political disturbances and Bangladesh War in 1971. The city re-prepares itself for global linkages to South-Asian trade linkages.
Socio-economic patterns of pulses
A. Vernacular trade linkages to Persia and China during Mughal (Mongol) times. Flourishing trade of local Jute and food grain (mainly rice) production
B. Industrialization begins parallel to Sheffield or Manchester in the United Kingdom. However, the mode of economic development was partial due to the colonial context. C. Industrial and Infrastructure degradation followed. Housing and social infrastructure was inadequate. Employment scarcities and allied urban pathologies (slum and squatter settlements) followed. Recent revival attempted in fringe housing and employment
Socio-cultural patterns of pulses
A. Flourishing indo-Persian culture in weaving industry. Additionally, Persian music and art-forms merged with Indian (mainly Hindu style) to form rich pulses for future schools.
B. Calcutta becomes the city of Anglo-Indian and local culture.
The city resurged in its various festivities like:
· The Autumnal Festivals of the Mother Goddess
· The Festival of Winter Solstice in the Delta Bay (Samkranti)
The Festival of spring (Gajan)
C. Despite pathologies, the city continued to produce many events and allied personalities like:
· Poet Rabindranath Tagore, Artist RaviShankar, Scientist Satyendranath Bose, Reformist Vivekananda, Economist Amartya Sen, Humanist Mother Teresa, Film-Director Satyajit Ray and many more.
Future of the Metropolis and Alternate Planning Modes – Lessons for the Future
Calcutta (now Kolkata) was once the economic capital of Colonial India. Today it is no more. From a few scattered hamlets in the dense tropical mangrove ‘Sundarbans’ it has exploded to a metropolitan conurbation spreading over 1600 sq.km. facing many pulses. The vision of sustainability is a skewed issue in the context of cities like Calcutta. If we are talking about Sustainability, then what is our planning mode? Are the people of this metropolitan region (currently a population over 16 million) happy with the cities obsession with a cultural past or is it getting ready to prepare for another mega economic pulse? Is the City preparing for another post-industrial revolution or is it system maintaining and content with the traditional status quo? The paper will conclude with some answers to these questions.