350 Event – School Children Rally with RAKSHA Jaipur

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350 Event – School Children Rally with RAKSHA Jaipur

I was also workin with RAKSHA to give the 350 event a final touch. And Jai and Neeraj my friends also came along with me.

According to Environmentalists and Scientists Below 350ppm of Green House Gases is an Urgent Requirement to Curbe Global Warming

So how I got into this event… simple I got a mail and it said about 350.org event. I opened the website and found out that RAKSHA has registered an action there. I got a call from Rohit on 19th and I came to Jaipur on 21st.

We met and I with the help of Jai ans Neeraj pasted posters in four colleges and a coaching centre. And then I went for the mock rally in the evening before the event day. I met all other members of RAKSHA.

RAKSHA Team in the Rally at Albert Hall Jaipur
The next day we reached the venue at 8 in the morning and arranged the venue. It was fun there. At 9:30 am students came and we told them about the issue and 350 ( 350 ppm of CO2 in atmosphere is safe level, if it increases then it can create problems … presently it is 390 ppm so to ring the alarm and wake them up from the slumber 350.org conducted this event).
Then their was a rally which we all enjoyed. Then 350 formation:

1. A national award winner wrote 350 on rice,
2. A jweller formed 350 using Emerald gems,
3. Students sat in 350 formation.

Then we interacted with media and others to tell them about the event and cause.

It was a good experience!

School children at rally in 350 formation.

To know more about 350:
http://www.350.org

1st Habitat Summit – A Four Day Visit to Delhi – Day 3

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1st Habitat Summit – A Four Day Visit to Delhi

Day 3:

The day again started early in the morning. The perfect reason for me to wake up early was to see some of Delhi as I will leave in the night for Jaipur as soon as the 1st Habitat Summit ends. To see Delhi when I had just three hours in my hand from six thiry am to nine thirty am, what can be better than go and see India Gate. I took an auto and went straight to India Gate. The sun was rising from the East and in the west I could see the dome of Rashtrapati Bhavan. There was no traffic just peace and it was overwhelming to be able to see the building which has captured the souls of all those soldiers who gave there life for the country. I stayed there for a while and then went on foot to Rashtrapati Bhavan carrying my twenty kilo luggage on my shoulders. I crossed the Sansad Bhawan and I had a feeling of being in an area which controls a country which is more than five thousand years old, with a rich history that none other nation in the world has. It represents the voice of 1.225 billion of human lives. It was all here the lock and the key which opens and closes the doors to the ‘Life’. I crossed South Block and North Block. And I reached the main gate of Rashtrapati Bhawan. I was not afraid but had a feeling of ownership – I am an Indian. I had to feel it and I felt it. My trip to Delhi was successful because of this pilgrimage of patriotism I had to go through. The Summit was an excuse that my destiny had put forth me. Then luckily it was Saturday and I was able to witness full forty minute ceremony of Ceremonial Changing of The Gaurd of The President’s Bodygaurd and The Army Gaurd – The 6th Battalion The Assam Regiment. It was a good show – but only a show, I couldn’t much appreciate it’s significance even if I was appreciating symbolic things for they truly represent the real existing things. If something symbolises something, it’s a proof of it’s existence. I appreciated this symbol of courage of the soldiers and their discipline.

I came back to Central Secratriat and took an auto after struggling and waiting for the correct bus number and bus. I came to India Habitat Centre. The feeling I had was different from the last two days of the Summit.

The day begin with the key note address from Mr. Keshav Varma, Head of Global Urban Programme, World Bank Institute. Calling himself unfit for the high profile job in an organization such as World Bank and The World Bank Institute he declared his love for being in streets and believing in development form the grass roots. He said in India people don’t have an understanding of urbanization. And at the same time the small and medium cities are not ready to absorb migration. He said there are two basic issues that has to be dealt with from his own experience of a Municipal Corporation of Ahmedabad.

1. Cities are excluded from economic planning. There is tension instead of cooperation in cities.
2. City management is of low level. Billions of rupees of resources in city remain unorganised.

It was interesting to know that in his term Ahmedabad was the only city to launch Municipal Bonds in whole of the South Asian region. He was successfully able to recover Ahmedabad from plague and developed it during it’s term. He considered plague as an opportunity because after that people started taking the issue of development more seriously. It was important to modernize and professionalize the administration.

The discussion topic was learning from diversity. Mr. Amitabh Kant from Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor Corporation focussed on how development in a city be able to generate an economic activity such as tourism. For tourism development four important aspects to be developed were toilets, lighting, signage and visitor information centre. And a partnership in community, private sector and government in also necessary.

Mr. Amit Kapoor, Chairman, Institute for Competitiveness talked about the competitiveness of our people in general. Each one of us is rational individually but collectively we are as irrational.

Ms. Shikha Jain from Jaipur Virasat Foundation focussed on a heritage based economy and considering heritage as a resource and development policy. She informed about current projects being run in different cities in Rajasthan under the Heritage Council.

The next session was on Liveability in the Urban Design Matrix. It was mainly about planning and Delhi Masterplan was an obvious target of most of the panelists. There were flaws and lack of futuristic thinking in the plan and thus it could not be successful. The other reason pointed by Mr. Sanjeev Sanyal was because of lack of implementation which is because of bad governance. He said Strategic Interventions directed on problems in government process can be a lot helpful in the process of development. Mr. Manit Rastogi from Morphogenesis gave information on his project on Delhi Naalas. His solution I think is brilliant and simple. It has the potential for sustainable development of the city as whole.

Whose city is anyway? It was a very good session partly because of it’s humane values and partly because the chair was Mr. Arun Maira, Member of Planning Commision, GoI. I loved his way of giving speach and quoting at times from some or other book always in his hand. I liked what Meera Sanyal said about the the city she would like to see is where all the people can live in dignity. She also said a city should be safe for children, if it is safe for them it is safe for everyone. And Mr. Jehangir Pocha said that the city should be natural and not artificial in every sense. He wanted to promote in city taxation so the money generated from a city is spent in the same city only. Mr Ravi of WWF focussed that even trees and birds of a city should be taken care of in a city. The city belongs to them also. While Mr. Shivramakrishnan feels that even migrants in a city should feel that the city belongs to them also. Gated communities are something that should be unwelcomed. The city belongs to everyone. On the question to how to bring about the change all the panelists agreed that someone has to come forward, organize the community and then force the government and administration to work for the development.

The final session of the whole 1st Habitat Summit was “Creating Champion Cities”. It was takenby Sheila Dikshit, Chief Minister of National Capital Territory of Delhi. She talked about the diversity of Delhi and her attachment and love for Delhi. She said Dehi represents the country. And felt proud while saying that Delhi is one of the greenest capital cities in the world. She has no fascination for high rise building but she want to develop delhi in terms of social, environmental and human values. She said migration should be discouraged to megacities and medium and small size cities ahould provide best educational and economical opportunities as they are in biggers cities. She also said that we are responsible to what we actually grieve about. She appreciated childrem and women of Delhi to bring about campaign to stop crackers at the time of Deepawali and the campaign against plastic. It was good to hear such thoughts from our politicians and I feel really optimistic about the development policies of our government.

The confrence ended up when Mr. Raj Liberhan thanked Ms. Sheila Dikshit for coming to the conference and exchange of ideas. In the end I really felt optimistic about the development of our country and really proud of the people of India who are so much positive about the development of the country. In the end I think it is the need to mobilize the people to make the process of development fast and sustainable.

I came to Sarai Kale Khan ISBT bus stand after that and it was really sad that the conference ended up so soon. It was good to be in people whi also thought like me. The area of the bus stand was what is the reality, may be it was necessary for me to see Delhi’s this part after being in the area of Lodhi Road, AIIMS and IIT Delhi. It was a horrible end to the sweet dream of clean and green Delhi. But I know things will change and we fellows have a great deal of share in that. I invite all the fellows to contact me at manojyadav.aiesec@gmail.com and 09413941059. I would like to share your and mine experiences and like to take any opportunity which comes before me in the path of development – sustainable development.

1st Habitat Summit – A Four Day Trip to Delhi – Day 2

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Day 2:

I left hostel much early than yesterday even if there was water in IIT today! I went to find out some breakfast and had healthy fruit salad and the famous Delhi’s Mother’s Dairy milk bottle. Then I went across the whole campus to the main gate and took an auto which this time took only Fifty rupees! I reached India Habitat Centre. Today I explored the building and when got tired I sat down to read in the binder of the Summit. Today I sat on the breakfast table with Pranav Gaur, American Express and had a wonderful discussion with him.. Others also joined in and participated in the discussion ranging from Sustainability to Delhi Metro to Placements in Architechture and Law firms.

The first session was on Making Cities Work for Growth and taken by Mr. Hiroto Arakawa. It was great to know about Tokyo as a city and it’s Metro System. It was quite informative but still I feel somehow it may not be sustainable. As the population on the city is rising and Metro is becoming overloaded in Tokyo. But it acts as the backbone of Tokyo also. Not easy to decide!

Then I would like to say that the most interesting session was the Politics of Urban Mobility. The speakers was Ms. Geetam Tiwari whom we had met on the first day of the summi; Mr. Jaipal Reddy, Minister for Urban Development, GoI; Mr. Rakesh Mehta, Chief Secratary, Government of NCT Delhi; Mr. Phillip Rode and Mr. Sam Miller writer of a book on Delhi’s city adventures. In overall it was most informative, entertaining and I could most connect with.

Interestingly it was chaired by most interesting personality at the Summit – Mr. K C Shivramakrishnan. His speach started with a quote from the economic survey of Delhi, ” The flyovers have been successful in shifting traffic jam to the next crossing.” In Delhi, there is BRT controversy and many political situations created by public, government, beaurocracy and other groups. There is politics of parking, public and private funding, taxing, policies like JNNURM and what not?

Mr. Rakesh Mehta grieved about the lack of collaboration in many agencies (Next day Manit said that the water supply management in Delhi is controlled by more that fifteen agencies!). He talked about the Common National Transport Policy which according to me is not a good idea as it’s a city’s unique needs which should frame the policies. He was the only person in the whole summit who talked about corruption in Trasnportation.

Mr. Philipp Rode talked about the virtues of low car dependency. I like this guy for his simple and sweet approach to problems and ability to clearly explain them. He again talked about Congestion Charge and it’s success in dreating more public spaces in the cities and reducing cars. This I think should work for Indian cities as well.

Mr. Sam Miller connected us emotionally and logically to the problem by showing three pictures from the city of Delhi where the pedestrians had a real problem in walking. And focussed on developing sidewalks.

Ms. Geetam Tiwari talked about three myths that we are facing and unable to get rid of are:

– Road congestion can be reduced by more flyovers.
– Congestion and pollution can be reduced by metro trains.
– Pollution can be reduced by fuel efficient cars/motorized vehicles.

She said that these myths are challenges that has to be looked upon. She also said in metros most trips are less than 10 kilometers. So I understand it’s really not necessary to have metros and flyovers but promoting cycle riders and walkers that can help a lot instead of spending such a huge sum of money on these monstors of concretes which are of no use!

All of them talked anout lowering dependency on cars and focussing on walkability. It was good to have the Minister of Urban Development there as these ideas were going to him directly and I really expect him to really look over these issues raised.

Mr. Jaipal Reddy said he supports the public transport and champion of the cause. He said the National Urban Transport focusses on people rather than vehicles.

The after lunch session was somewhat much related to ground work rather than big talks of policies and government authorities. It was on social inclusion in urban revitalisation. There was present Mr. Ashish Ganju who helped develop Ayanagar which was an unorganised and illegal settlement near Delhi. He developed the pond in the village as the centre of all activities and in this way lead to the development of the region. He said there were four ponts that has to be taken in account while developing a community:

– Community Involvement – which he considered was not easy enough but most necessary step.
– Habitat Design – the focus he said should be on public health like it was in the old times before industrial times.
– Documentation – He said it was necessary so that others can also learn form this project.
– Raising of Human and Financial Resources

Mr. Pankaj Vir Gupta talked about his project in Delwara, Rajasthan. Where he helped the community develop from the local resources. He wanted to make a toilet there as the people defaceted in the open like most of the villages in Rajasthan ( Later it was known from a speaker the even 60 percent of Delhi does so!). But his project when fully designed and planned was stoppped by local panchayat because they considered it inapproprite. Panchayat Power!!

Then there was Rahul Srivastave from Mumbai who had worked for the development of Dharavi. Also Mr. Marcello Balbo from University of Venice informed that in developing countries out of financial resources available eighty percent goes in running costs like payments. So he said do plan small projects, not long term and feasible. He also said that community involvement is necessary.

Till then I had in my mind questions about decentralization. The problem with it is that the expertise, resources, brains, thoughts, vision, etc. may not be available at such local level. So, with power there is a need of all these also to be developed locally or supplied from outside of higher levels of power. May be it’s true and that’s why people of a village don’t take action but someone from outside has to come and show them the way.

The next session was on Affordable Housing in India. It was much dominated by a group of builders and bankers who were planning to set up low price apartments for the poor people which in itself was found to be full of flaws when questions were raised. They were asking for a help from the Govenment in terms of subsidies in land aspects. Well it was a good session as I came to know how the housing, real estate and banking sector works. There were concepts like Residential SEZ discussed. Also they demanded the renewal of land laws. The presence of Ms. Kiran Dhingra, Secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation GoI made the session much interesting. A comment from the audience, ” Solution exists but the will is lacking. And Behind every failed scheme there is a Beaurocrat.” shows the frustration od common people from the beaurocracy and government.

Then I attended the public forum where Ms. Meera Sanyal, Mr. K C Shivramakrishnan, Mr. William Bissell and Mr Yogesh Chandra were present for the discussion. The focus was of good governance and how can we work for the development of the city. The outcome was one should come ahead, mobilize a community and storm the office of administration… not literally. The participation of community was again the most important. The comment of Mr. Shivramakrishnan was worth appreciation and thought provoking, “We are individualy intelligent but collectively stupid.”

This way the day was full of interesting debate. I went back to IIT Delhi with a mind full of facts and information. I ate two stuffed nan at FX canteen in the campus and went to Hostel to sleep.

1st Habitat Summit – A Four Day Trip to Delhi – Day 1

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Day 1:

I left early at six thirty about 3 hours early partly because I did not much wanted to stay in the hostel and partly because I wanted to see Delhi mornings.I went to India Habitat Centre where the auto driver took seventy rupees. Lack of the knowledge of public transport or lack of public trasport forced me daily to take these money sucking autos. Anyway all my grudge went away when I crossed the green and clean roads. I appreciated the cool air and it seemed clean too. It was a morning of Delhi which I will never forget. India Habitat Centre was a building I would be more happy to look upon than TajMahal. The architechture of the building. The plants and decoration were beautiful. The roof which was designed specially to let sunlight in. It brought air in which was cooled by the plants. The amphitheatre felt like the jungle of Amazon. It was humid sitting there without fans. It would have been no surprise to see tribals pointing arrows amidst the trees. The place was so diverse.

My friend who is also an AIESECer form Jaipur also came there after an hour. We sat and talked. He came there to make contacts and networking and I – to learn. I decided to shut my mouth most of the Summit and learn and assimilate as much as I can in my mind. First session was a light one, we fellows were introduced to the Summit and there was Mr. Anupam Yog and Mr. Sanjeev Sanyal of whom I had never heard of before this Summit but heard as many time during the Summit that they now sound so familier. Then we had breakfast and talked with Ms. Geetam Tiwari without knowing that she was an important speaker at the Summit. She explained about how she makes plans to tackle Transport and Injuries at IIT Delhi.

Then we went to Stein Auditorium after going through a real tough procedure of registration. There was a crowd of three hundred fellows to register. And over this we were told to register two times each day of Summit once while leaving and once while entering.

There was a feeling of being special when we were introduced to Summit by Mr. Raj Liberhan, Director of India Habitat Centre. The first interesting person was Mr. Arun Maira – I liked his sensitive talks, way of speaking and habit of always taking a book with him and quoting from the book. He is a member of Planning Commision, GoI.

Then there was a pannel discussion on Urbanization as Development Policy in India, China and the Wolrd. I specifically liked the presentations by Mr. Philipp Rode, London School of Economics and Mr. Andrew TaN from Singapore. I couldn’t much understand Mr. Wong from China. But Mr. Lall’s policy of focussing on economic density was a point I couldn’t much favor may be because lack of understanding of Economics. He was from The World Bank.

Then there was a coffee break. The arrangement for food and breakfast was good. I appreciate that. Than there was this session on ‘Beyond the Megacities’ on the next generation cities of India which I personally found the most unhelping session of the whole Summit. No information and vague concepts. The speakers Sudeshna and Mr. Das could not help me understand what they wanted to say.

The third session of the day was on Alternative Urban Futures of India which I suppose went of the topic and became much political but I liked it very much. The speaker was Mr. M Ramachandran, Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development. At first I had a feeling if he was reading his article from the development monthly ‘Yojana’ when he talked about all the policies like JNNURM, Master Plans etc. But the discussion with him was good.

The fourth session was very very good – It was taken by Mr Andrew Tindsley from BDP; Gaurav Gupta, The Climate Project – India; Sean Randolph, Bay Area Council Economic Institute and of course Sanjeev Sanyal. Some important points discussed were:

-How to plan a city development?
-Climate Change and India
-Walkability
-Adaptation and Mitigation

Then there was a session on role of education in bringing about urban renaissance. It was not of much help to me because all the education discussed was only architechture and design. But the presentation of Mr. Baldeep Singh. Anad Conservatory generated the importance of heritage and culture in my mind. It also raised questions like, the heritage which I and most of indians think as tourist attration spots and merely economic activity can be of any value? I mean how can not I understand what foriegners come to see in my city and feel the importance of? What importance does it really have. I had read from Barack Obama’s biography that it relates us to our history and in this way we learn to appreciate the cultures and history of our as well as others. This may be the one powerfull reason here too but I need to know more about it.

In this way the first day ended up. It was good to be at the summit and learn and know so many things. I loved the day. At that time I began to feel, if this obsession for Urbanization is fair or not? It might have been given air by the industry like consultancy, construction, design, planning etc. But soon it bacame clear that development is never bad and the real meaning of Urbanization has many aspects which are not economical only – political, cultural and environmental and this will help me connect with the topic of the 1st Habitat Summit in a much better way. I was back in IIT Delhi’s Hostel, I surfed internet and then slept in a good sleep. There was no fever but peace in my mind.