Friday, October 14, 2011

Googled and facebooked

This is a two part series of observations of two of the most popular websites of today’s times.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Are we Infra-structured?

‘Shortage of homes’ was the tagline of one of the news article that hit my eye the other day. 2.3 million houses in the next five years are required for the ever increasing population to ‘accommodate’ themselves. This number was mentioned for top seven cities mapped in India considering the rate of urbanization and development. As expected such a huge housing demand was estimated to fall short by only 1.3 million units for the five year term. A good publicity stunt for the builders perhaps!!!

          The mid range housing demand is the driver of this requirement. But the question is- Is the pricing true to be called a ‘mid-range’ housing demand? When one questions the demand supply ratio, one must also look into the product and its rate ratio. Staggering house rates, increasing bank loan rates and rising inflation lead to a panic situation in the populace. Some deem to run away from this massive attack of the housing prices whilst many other wait for lowering of the property rates to fall, which is a distant dream. When the country debates about the rate to be fixed for people below poverty line, there should also be a clear picture for the housing demand supply strategy. With migration and urbanization being the biggest transformational measures in the development or de-development of a particular city, the infrastructure should match up with the estimated users. 

          Merely providing wide roads in the newer developments and overlooking the heart of the city is the trend of governance. But the passage of commuters through the soul of the city is ignored. Burdening the narrow lanes of the old city is a common picture in most of the cities.Rampant abuse of the existing infrastructure leads to chaos and confusion in the city itself. Proper lining of resources and upgrading the existing infrastructure to meet the current and future requirements should be the norm.

          Advent of mega industries like Information Technology, seen as boon to many is also a curse in manier ways. For example the case of Bangalore - Once a beautiful green city is now a hot destination to the ‘Silicon Valley’ and it’s after effects. What was perceived as an attractive destination for settling few years back is now reconsidered for a packing up businesses to other cities. Now the IT hub is also getting associated with crumbling infrastructure and associated woes. IT majors are relocating their Indian operations to other lucrative options like Gurgaon , Noida, Cochin, Mysore. With IT operations comes a heavy demand for housing, infrastructural needs and allied services but it might also lead to a state of utter commotion and disarray, if not met sensibly.

          What happens or is happening to one major IT hub should be a lesson in disguise to other cities where they must plan the entry of a giant in accordance with the existing resources and future plan of infrastructure. Water needs, electricity needs, sewage and other aspects of infrastructural wants need to be taken care of. Setting up a seat for a large giant is rather easy than feeding him the necessary and long lasting food is essential to make sure the giant’s seat is comfortable in the fabric of the city. 

          Creating diversified economic bases in terms of mix of industries, health care, institutions and financial services could be an appropriate option of securing a prosperous advent of progress of a city. While doing so, it is inevitable that the charm of the prevalent city is in threat. Policies and strategies to divert these could lead to a holistic approach.  

          Also the initial debate of providing ‘housing’ in the near future- the sad infrastructural encroachment on the natural resources like hills, rivers is disturbing. It is sad to see the hills being covered with shanty structures and infrastructural lines running all across them. It brings in a picture of two sides of the same coin to us. One face of the coin shows city with a lucrative and upscale entrants which needs constant up gradation whilst the other side of coin shows these malpractices of infrastructural exploitation in the form of sprawling slums all over. These have all the infrastructural pleasures, a city can have. Being lured by the political ambitions, they command a substantial sprawl.

Such scenarios create a rather unhealthy kind of image of a city. What a city aspires to be at the initial, eventually gets lost in the process. Being true to most of the cities in India, it needs to be altered at an emergency level. Coming up with ‘infrastructure bonds’ is not the solution – rather creating ‘bonds with infrastructure’ should be the order of the day. Mess,chaos and confusion on the street sometimes questions – Are we infra-structured?