As part of Habitat Photosphere, the mega-photography festival initiated by India Habitat Centre on sustainable development that has been conceptualised and curated by art historian Dr Alka Pande, an exhibition of photographs titled City Scripts is being held at the Mandi House Metro Station, New Delhi, that is on till April 30, 2019, during metro hours. Being held in collaboration with Indian Institute of Human Settlement (IIHS), a national education institution committed to the equitable, sustainable and efficient transformation of Indian settlements.
Says, Capt. K. Pooja Vasanth, Head – Operations & Administration, IIHS, Bengaluru City Campus, “This exhibition is an attempt at deepening public discourse around cities and urbanisation by inviting people – to whom the city eventually belongs – to ask what they want from their city.”
By 2050, more than half of India’s population will live in cities. India’s urbanisation is the second largest rural-to-urban transition in human history. This is not merely a geographical or demographic change; urbanisation is fundamentally changing India’s economy, society, culture, natural and built environments, as well as politics.
Cities agglomerate people and economic output in small geographic areas. Yet, poverty and vulnerability are growing in cities. Urban areas are also contributors to increasing environmental burden. Yet, an increasing number of people are moving into cities, requiring a decent quality of life. Given that much of India’s development hinges on this transition being handled with wisdom, how can we ensure that our cities are both equitable and sustainable? As always, understanding begins with asking the right questions.
These four questions (How does a city work? Who does the city belong to?, How sustainable are our cities? When will India be more urban than rural?) represent some of the most pertinent issues that Indian cities face today. Together with the images, the exhibits signal both challenges and opportunities that cities present. Even as urban areas struggle to respond to these various challenges, however, at its core, cities represent how we relate to each other as human beings—and as humans to other beings.