Guwahatians and the Conduct of Urbanity

Tuesday, 11 December 2018

oPINIONS

Opinions

Guwahatians and the Conduct of Urbanity

Sattyakee D’com Bhuyan | November 11, 2018 16:53 hrs


I, at times, wonder what we feel about the term “Urban” which most of us consider to be.

 
We claim we stay in a city space with modern thoughts and ideologies. However, I see more of the reflection in the clothes people wear considering that “Urban" is usually used as opposed to "rural.”


Only considering ourselves to be Urban and living in areas like Guwahati where tigers and leopards don’t roam our streets anymore does make us Urban?  Not to forget the way we kill them in Urban space.  I personally reside in Guwahati with an area pin code of 1 (781001 to be precise). So I see more bad than good in our so-called developed areas. I am not even touching upon our roads, garbage, drainage and floods here.  If mindsets of our residents would have improved with the years of residing in a cultured space things would have been so much better by now. Let’s not bring in the government all the time knowing very well that we are the tax payers without any defaults. I speak for myself here.


To a casual visitor, any city usually appears to be a monolithic collection of houses, buildings, people and open spaces, all somehow connected by a hidden code of conduct that eludes outsiders. Here, in our once small town of Guwahati which today has grown into a city “of sorts,” I wonder what we have to offer in term of urbanity. It’s a common sight to see empty bottled water (Bisleri we call it ) and more so empty chips packets thrown out of switch controlled windows of fancy big cars- that’s  just an example. 
So I feel that although we claim to be Urbanites in all our glory, we do not have the basic CONDUCT of Urbanity for which our progress is limited.  Over and above we are considering to covert our city into a “Smart-City”- how ridiculous can we get? A Smart City for whom, if I may ask? For the “Over-smart Urban Dwellers.” Such practices inadvertently create confusion in my mind in terms of what urbanity exactly means.


As stated by cultural anthropologists in the past, one of the most important constituents of urbanity in governmental evaluations today is the attribute of urban morphology. However, urban morphology – along with the derivative attribute urban consciousness – is considered to be the most difficult to assess, most likely as a result of its close association with the subjective arts of architecture and urban design.


Reflections are better seen during the festivities. I won’t comment on the final day of Durga Puja when the immersion of the Goddess takes place but what about our conduct during what we call the “Festival of Lights?” Considering the present situation Sound would makes a better replacement- that’s food for thought.


I have regularly started telling my students, “You simply cannot be Urban until and unless you have the conduct of Urbanity within you!” Considering the fact that with the urbanization process worldwide, modeling the dynamics of people's activities in urban environments, it has indeed become a crucial socio-economic task. However, if you believe in what images from satellites tell us about built-up areas, a whopping 63% of India is urban, with urban settlements concentrated in the relatively underdeveloped belts and precisely that is the WORRY.

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