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.

1st Habitat Summit – A Four Day Trip to Delhi – Day 0

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A four day trip to Delhi : 1st Habitat Summit
Day 0:
I woke up with a fever of 103 degree Fahrenheit. But there were rumours of mid-terms so I had to go anyhow to college. The fever started last day morning – may be because I slept in open air, on the roof and in between mosquitos whose presence I might not have realised.

After having a 500mg of Paracetamol and reaching to college on my best friend’s bike as a pillion, I had only one thing in my mind – to sleep in the effect of the Paracetamol tablet. Thankfully there was an examination and I gave it – yes, simply gave the empty paper to the inviligator after signing my attendance – a buzz word in today’s higher education system – ATTENDANCE. So, I came back to my room with my good friend.

The bad thing that happened was the declaration of mid-terms on 24 as well as 25 September and that too two in a day. I went to my Head of the Department to take the permission for the 1st Habitat Summit which was from 24-26 September. He bluntly said,”We can’t do anything. If you want to go, go on your own risk.” He even started questiong the Summit and stated I had nothing significant to do at the Summit. My plea that if I miss the Summit I will have to pay full delegation fee was like honking horn before a buffalow that has been sitting on Indian roads for ages. He did not move. And nor did I – I decided to miss the mid-terms as well as struggle fever – just to attend the summit.

I stuffed my clothes in a bag and went to Narayan Singh Circle of Jaipur to catch a bus to Delhi. After eating a roadside ‘Kari Kachori’ (because there was nothing good available near the bus-stand), I went to ask for a bus to Delhi. The booking window man said that there was no bus in next one and half hour and only available is an AC. Since I was having some level of fever and I can afford some problems of a general RSRTC bus – I declined his advice. See the difference between his saying and the truth there were two RSRTC buses for Delhi about to leave in next fifteen minutes. I took the best seat which was proved to be wrong the window faced the sun all the time till it was evening.

This was my forst trip to Delhi in daytime. I saw how are the industries and agriculture spread around the National Highway 8. Rajasthan did not had quite a good show. There were very less industries and the agriculture fields – most of them drying in thirst for water. As soon as the bus entered in Rewari, Haryana, I realised the change of state without looking at the signboards. The agriculture fields were green and spread to horizon. Also the villages seemed lively in the setting sun. The villages had schools, ponds, temples and the houses had buffalows. It was a really good to see everything like that. But suddenly I saw a chain of industries. Then I realised the article which I studied a long back about the development of Haryana’s agriculture and industries at the same time. May be it’s true that I did looked at the Highway side Haryana only but when I compare it to Highway side Rajasthan I can clearly see Haryana better in Infrastructure and Economy.

Now came the question of debate – Can economic growth of a nation be correlated with it’s development? I asked my self what is the actual citizen behaviour of the people of Haryana? Is the social infrastructure also developing at the same pace as economic infrastructure. I did not had to wait for longer when the bus reached to next stand. A private bus driver was forcing the people physically and shouting at them to sit in his own bus to Delhi. He was literally pulling the passengers trying to enter in the standing government bus. This example can be not the only proof and may be this was not a typical case of Haryana but I had a feeling that still Haryana had to go a long way to social development. And Rajasthan has got to learn that developing basic social infrastructure should be more focussed upon if they are planning to spend money – and that too if they have money to spend. The input to development comes from industries and economy and the output of that should go to develop social infrastructure whose output will be far more value added – good and progressive people.

Thursdays, I am not afraid of you now!

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17th September, Thursday.

I was careful to follow my self-imposed precautions, which I always do on days like Thursday. Tuesday is still worse. I have this feeling of fixing days as good or bad (Friday being the best!). I had a minor bus accident a few days before. I tore of the skin of my knee. And worse, I tore of my brand new black trousers. The only formal piece of clothing I had. Thursdays proved themselves bad sometimes, but in general they are neutral. I took bath while singing ‘Narsimha Aarti’. I sang it three times to do better everytime. I find Mondays cool, fresh and new. Wednesdays I don’t like to travel. Fridays bring me success and good news. I proves me of my power, knowledge and intellectual. Saturdays I am still unable to decide, so be it neutral. Sundays I like them when I have worked harder whole of the week. I love towake up early to see the sun rising and listen the birds chirping in the garden in front of this house.

Today, in my lfe for the first time I cooked ‘kheer’ (pudding). I waited for Shrey and Sambhav to leave for their college (I did not wanted them to see me cooking and the finished product. I added 180 gms of vermicelli to 800 ml of boiling milk. It was all well in the beginning but as time went on I saw lack of milk and time as well.  had to leave for college in next half an hour.I tested it and it seemed fine. I didn’t taste so well and also looked much like sweet maggie rather them syrupy kheer. I still finished half thrown one-fourth and saving one-fourth for my 3 pm lunch. I have allready said Thursdays and Tuesdays make me take wrong decisions. I should have added only 70 grams of vermicelli to half a litre of milk.

I reached college at 10:00 am and waited for my turn in debate compettition. I waited and waited while the coordinators were still arranging the mike and refreshments for the judges. Ihad nothing to prepare as all my points were in my mind. I just had to go up there and speak what I think about, ‘Can Economic Growth be Correlated to the Development of a Nation?’ I was in against.

The time came when the event started. It was my first public speaking on such an issue. I have given paper presentations and they are hell different than a debate or a speech. I was invited to speak in the end.

Aditi Mathur, in same year as of mine was for the inaugral speech- she was the winner of debate when we were in first year. I appreciated her way of speaking and knowledge – especially her reference to President Sarkozy’s statement about inadequacy of GDP to define the economic development of a country. Although her whole speech was based on just one Times of India article on business page, it was well spoken and full of good points.

I focussed on Social and Economic Equality, Sustainable Development and Human Development Index. I ended my speech with Mr. Kofi Annan’s definition of developed country,”A developed country is one where its citizens live a free and healthy life in a safe environment.”

I speech was well received by clappings, applause and good questions. A question was askedby Director sir himself. Professor Shivkumar looked impressed. I can feel positive about my selection to speak before a thousand audience on the grand Shraddhanjali stage and win the competition. And more important is to make people aware of the actual meaning of development.

In overall I realised Thursdays are not so bad. I may not get a good news but I can work out my tasks well on this day of Brihaspati. 🙂 So, thursdays,  I am not afraid of you now!