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<nettime> Whose Planning and on whose behalf and the slums that save us!
solomon benjamin on Thu, 15 Sep 2005 19:39:14 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> Whose Planning and on whose behalf and the slums that save us!

[originally to: <commons-law {AT} sarai.net> and others]

Dear all,

a consideration of the plans that surround us. First,
an excerpt from an email sent to me (despite its

New Orleans vs. Mumbai

Inches of rain in new orleans due to hurricane katrina... 18"
mumbai (July 27th).... 37.1"

population of new orleans... 484,674
population of mumbai.... 12,622,500

deaths in new orleans within 48 hours of katrina...100
deaths in mumbai within 48hours of rain.. 37.

number of people to be evacuated in new orleans...entire city..wohh
number of people evacuated in mumbai...10,000

Cases of shooting and violence in new orleans...Countless
Cases of shooting and violence in mumbai.. NONE

Time taken for US army to reach new orleans... 48hours
Time taken for Indian army and navy to reach mumbai...12hours

status 48hours later...new Orleans is still waiting
for relief, army and electricity
status 48hours later. Mumbai is back on its feet and
is business is as usual

USA ...world's most developed nation
India ...third world country


SB: I was reminded in a comment in Sukuntu Mehta's
book Maximum City that if the same population density
of Mumbai lived more commonly in the US, systems
including 'law and order' would break down -- or
something like that. And one needs to read even more
vivid description of daily city life in 'Shantaram'
(Gregory Roberts) to suggest that perhaps the
wonderful thing about cities is the way economic,
political, legality, and social space gets redefined
-- a fluidness far benond the moral positioning by
planners -- espicially those arguing for
'participatory planning'.

Moving beyond the moralistic and into systems of
control, the point in the comparasion with New Orleans
is the way cities and towns in the US and UK are
located in a system of stringent control made possible
by planning. One only has to read accounts in books
like 'Black Corona' about participatory planning in
NYC and its politics, or then the experience of urban
renewal in Boston of the 1960s and 70s, or accounts of
Madhu Sarin's Chandigarh, or Fedric Thomas's Calcutta,
to appreciate that what really works in Mehta's and
Shantaram's Bombay is that it is slummified so well! I
refer to here not a debate of the 74th, CA and if the
participatory process is linked to that or not.
Instead I am pointing to the centrality of politics,
the value of anachism, of fluidity, of
un-predictability, which planners and administrators
find great unease. More recently, they are joined by
donors, organizations like HDFC, ICICI, FICCI, CII, or
CEOs like Kiran Mazumdar Shah (Biocon) or Philips' CEO
Bob Hoeskatra -- all seeking to make our cities
globally competitive. Why is it for instance, that the
recent book by Jagmohan reads so much like the essays
of Kalpana Sharma, or that the manifesto of the
bangalore Social Forum like that of the FICCI and CII
(except for two points of inc. FDI, and land

What is the conceptual value of having fuzzy
categories like Civil Soceity, decentralization,
participation, planning, 'the law', good governance,
'balancing needs and resources in equitable and
efficient ways', when all these essentially refer
processes of politics?

well, more later


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