Tag Archives: New Delhi

Aap Kare toh Renovation, Hum Kare toh Gentrification

It appears that a Delhi bookstore has relocated. This, in itself, isn’t news in a city of relocation,dislocation, demolition, destruction; a city built, looted and sacked at least seven times. Yet, the emotional coverage of Yodakin’s move – from one part of Hauz Khaas village to another – assures us that Delhi has lost a vital cultural hub, a “safe space”, an “indie book store with the ambience of a salon“. In a city of “aggression, pollution and anxiety”, Yodakin apparently offers us “reassurance”.

The problem, familiar to any intellectual in search of reassurance, is skyrocketing rents. As one particularly maudlin tribute explains: (emphasis in original):

I remember sitting with Arpita and Smita (of 11.11 Celldsgn/ The Grey Garden/ Elma’s/ Edward’s & TLR) at Elma’s across the street from Yodakin (the bakery was still only open for tastings) and vociferously advocating a shopkeeper’s union of sorts back in 2011.We were concerned about the escalating rates, discussing the impending gentrification (and doom) of our little alternative urban village. Everything popular gets subsumed into consumer culture eventually, we argued. The alternative is always being wiggled out of the spaces it fosters. The little guys make the place and then the big rich guns swoop in to ruin it, commercialize it.

But, don’t panic just yet, the bookstore is now sharing space with an organic food and art cafe called Tattva, where a  Tattvaamrita “Fruit Yogurt with Honey and Nuts” costs Rs 245, and a “cooling fennel juice” costs Rs. 175.  If the little guys are charging Rs 625 plus tax for a couscous salad, one genuinely fears what the “big rich guns” will charge. This of course brings us to a much needed conversation about all the things that you talk about in when you live in Delhi: Gentrification, alternative publishing, independent bookstores, and the all things that New York has and Delhi shall soon acquire.

Continue reading Aap Kare toh Renovation, Hum Kare toh Gentrification

The Golchakkar of Premier Institutions: St. Stephen’s College as a Public Concern: N P Ashley

This is a guest post by N P Ashley: For a teacher, it feels strange to defend one’s workplace in public against the experiential remarks of an individual who happens to be in some ex-student capacity in the same college. “I didn’t like X’s classes” or “I found academic excellence in St. Stephen’s College a myth”  are statements that need no attempt to be disproven precisely because the writer, Thane Richard, makes no attempt to prove them in the first place. The narrative is anecdotal and validation is through “personal experience” which can only be countered, rather weakly, through other anecdotes. Hence, I won’t get into it. But there are certain methodological problems with the entire exercise, which, if not countered, will wrongly define the concerns of the readers.   Continue reading The Golchakkar of Premier Institutions: St. Stephen’s College as a Public Concern: N P Ashley

New Delhi: A heritage zone at 80!

In 1988 Lutyen’s Delhi, was declared a heritage zone by prohibiting building activity within the 26 square kilometre area out of the 43 Sq. Km. area that falls within the civic control of New Delhi Municipal Committee (NDMC). A move has now been initiated to get the entire area declared a World Heritage site.

The very logic of an area being declared a Heritage Zone should preclude any interference with the layout and design of the entire zone. Non-interference also means that, future building and development activity, if at all permitted, has to conform to the original parameters of design, materials, fittings and fixtures used, building techniques, landscaping and the kinds of trees planted in the heritage zone.

Even before the 1988 freeze on construction, there was a master plan for Delhi and it clearly identified the Lutyen’s Bungalow Zone as an area where high rises were not to be permitted.

The actual violations began when this rule was selectively relaxed beginning with permission given in the mid 70s to construct the high rise Sagar Apartments on Tilak Marg. High rises like Asha Deep and Dakshineshwar on Hailey Road followed shortly thereafter. Continue reading New Delhi: A heritage zone at 80!

Delhi 1803-2012: A Brief Biography

Delhi, Or Dilli has been a city and a capital for a long time and even when it was not the capital, during the Lodi and early Mughal period, and later between 1858 and 1911, it continued to be an important city. We are of course talking of what is historically established and not of myths and legends. During this period there have been 7 major and several minor cities within the territories now identified as the National Capital Territory of Delhi (NCR-Delhi). New Delhi is the eight city. This piece marking the hundred years of the shifting of the colonial capital to Delhi from Calcutta in 1912, will talk about both Shahjahanabad and New Delhi. We will see how  Shahjahanabad the once most powerful and rich city of its time and the last capital of the Mughals was gradually  ruined, plundered and virtually reduced to a slum  while next door arose, a new enclave of Imperial grandeur known now as New Delhi. Continue reading Delhi 1803-2012: A Brief Biography

From Dehli to New Delhi, it wasn’t 1911

Amidst the cacophony of celebrating 100 years of Delhi, several details seem to have escaped the attention of our ever vigilant media, both print and electronic. This post is to draw your attention to a few of these ‘details’ in an attempt to place the celebrations in what appears to this author to be the correct perspective.

The 12th of December, 2011, can not by any stretch of imagination be described the centenary of Delhi, because there were at least 7 Dehlis before New Delhi came up, in fact 9 Dehlis if one were to add Kilokhri and Kotla Mubarakpurpur, Dehlis in their own right, to the generally accepted list of Qila Rai Pithora, Siri, Tughlaqabad, Jahan Panah, Firozeshah Kotla, Din Panah or Sher Garh or Purana Qila and Shahjahanabad. All of these came up at different times from the  11th century to the 17th century and all of these were more than a 100 years ago.

All that the 12th of December 2011 can claim to be the centenary of, therefore, is New Delhi. Let us look at even that claim a little more closely. What exactly transpired on the 12th of December 1911 that is causing so much excitement a 100 years later? Continue reading From Dehli to New Delhi, it wasn’t 1911

यहाँ से शहर को देखो…

(नई दिल्ली का सौवां साल शुरू होने पर हिंदी साप्ताहिक आऊटलुक  में यह लेख पहली बार प्रकाशित हुआ था.)

अब जबके हर तरफ यह एलान हो चुका है के दिल्ली १०० बरस की हो गयी है और चारों ओर नई दिल्ली के कुछ पुराने होने का ज़िक्र भी होने लगा है, इन दावों के साथ साथ के दिल्ली तो सदा जवान रहती है और देखिये ना अभी कामन वेल्थ खेलों के दौरान यह एक बार फिर दुल्हन बनी थी वगेरह वगेरह तो हमने सोचा के क्यों न इन सभी एलान नामों की सत्यता पर एक नजर डाल ली जाए, और इसी बहाने उस दिल्ली वाले से भी मिल लिया जाए जो इस अति प्राचीन/ मध्य कालीन/ आधनिक नगरी का नागरिक होते हुए भी वैशवीकरण के झांसे में इतना आ चुका है के वो अपने आप को २१वीं शताब्दी के पूर्वार्द्ध में आने वाले आर्थिक संकट को पछाड देने वाले चमचमाते भारत देश की राजधानी का शहरी  होने का भरम पाले हुए है. Continue reading यहाँ से शहर को देखो…

The Oblique Strategies of Trickster City

It’s midnight: An aspiring model cooks up a batch of Fem Bleaching Cream; an actor rehearses his dialogues to the sounds of manic laughter, “Oh tell them all it is I who is God,”; a fourteen year old feigns sleep as his father looks on, wondering what has prompted his son to abandon his studies and look for work; a woman throws her abusive husband to the floor and whips him with his belt.
In the morning, a young man will awaken at the crack of dawn and walk down to the slaughterhouse; an empty street shall bear witness to a middle aged woman’s defiant declaration, “I will work. I don’t care what you think! I don’t care what the world thinks.” The muezzin will call the faithful to prayer.  A bulldozer will plow through the heart of this twenty five year old settlement: clearing space for the 2010 Commonwealth Games, altering these lives forever.
In February 2006, the residents of Nangla Maanchi, a working class settlement of migrants in Delhi, were confronted by a signboard: “This land is the property of the government. It should be vacated.” By August that year, Nangla was bulldozed to make way for an “athlete’s village” to house this year’s Commonwealth Games.