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Category Archives: journalism

Future Sense


Published in shorter form in TimeOut Mumbai, 25 April 2013 A History of Future Cities by Daniel Brook (London: W.W. Norton & Company, 2013) This new book by American journalist and writer Daniel Brook is an essential addition to the bookshelves of anyone interested in how cities like Mumbai both aspire and attempt to fulfill [...]

Rant of an Urban Researcher


One of the most pathetic examples of the neglect of the city’s history is the Kala Ghoda area of South Mumbai. This sounds like a contradiction – in recent years Kala Ghoda has become synonymous with the heritage movement, with its museums and galleries, arts festivals and concerts, and recently restored colonial architecture. But if [...]

Mumbai and the Global History of Urban Disasters


Whether you consider the recent floods in Mumbai to be either a natural disaster, or a man-made crisis — or a bit of both — most will agree that we have just been through the biggest social crisis to face the city since the communal riots and bomb blasts in 1992–1993. It is not often [...]

Bombay’s Blame Game: On the Recent Floods


Who is really to blame for the floods and chaos in Mumbai this week? The monsoon downpour last week was not strictly a natural disaster. It was a man-made crisis, and the public have spent the past week searching for explanations and solutions to this human disaster. The answers provided have ranged from the opportunistic [...]

The Hidden History of Hutatma Chowk


(unpublished, originally written to accompany the essay Should Mumbai be a City State?) Heritage architects have complained for years that the Soviet-style concrete statue next to the Flora Fountain ruins the visual sweep of the Fort’s colonial facades and streetscape. But did you ever wonder what this monument is supposed to commemorate? Fifty years ago [...]

Should Mumbai be a City State?


There are several arguments routinely invoked about making Mumbai into a City State. They go something like this — for most of its modern history, Bombay was an island off the coast of India, a cosmopolitan port city with enterprising migrants and bustling industry and commerce — symbolic of India’s engagement with the world, rather [...]

Mill’s as Public Spaces: Mumbai’s Industrial Heritage


In Mumbai, public awareness of urban arts and heritage has experienced a significant revival in the past ten years — in the same historical moment when manufacturing industries have closed and factories emptied throughout Greater Mumbai. Heritage discourse and conservation practice have only implicitly acknowledged this economic context. Since the Bombay Textile Strike of 1982–3, entire [...]

Mumbai Vision 2010: Reporting the Future


If you look left while crossing Haji Ali into Worli, the brightly lit ground floor showroom of a well-known auto major is emblazoned with the words “improving the quality of life”. You can’t miss it, because this is a congested junction, with cars queueing up at the next signal to ascend the Worli Fly-Over. Stuck [...]

Mumbai Vision 2010: Get Up, Stand Up


Bombay is the birthplace of civic sensibility in India. So here are some sensible suggestions for really improving the quality of life of those who don’t fly business class: PUBLIC SPACE: Space No Bar The tallest tale about Mumbai is that the city is overcongested and space in short supply. This myth of land scarcity [...]

Radio Beyond Broadcasts


On 8 August 2003, JACIC (Jindal Arts Creative Interaction Centre) organised a panel discussion on “Radio Beyond Broadcasts”. This panel, held at the National Centre for Performing Arts (NCPA) in Mumbai, explored the uses of low-power radio as an inexpensive medium for creative expression in theatre, concert music, heritage walks, street performances, sound installations, and [...]