The gates, they are coming up everywhere: inside our cities, at their peripheries, enclosing entire townships of their own. As cities attract more and more migrant professionals—and we are talking of the white-collar kind here—as aspirations grow faster than incomes, the upper middle class and those above it, have created their own “urbania”. Fed up with how our municipalities and corporations struggle to provide even basic amenities, many have found their answers inside gated enclaves and mini-cities that run entirely by private enterprise.
In our cover story (“Brave new world”) this month, we examine the gated city culture. Writer Srinath Perur, who lived for a month inside Pune’s Magarpatta City—one of the earliest of its kind, a 430-acre township developed by farmers with complete private management of parking lots to cricket tournaments to garbage collection—found it well-managed and incredibly safe, and yet could not escape a sense of unease.
In about 9,000 words he tells the stories from the inside: of the 35,000 people living there and the 60,000 who come for work, under the protective gaze of 750 CCTVs, 1,000 security personnel and a dog squad. He says he found a sense of “bareness” about the place, that even the species of trees and shrubs inside were homogenous. For people here, the city outside is an intimidating presence, a place where the ordered efficiency of their lives falls apart. A child who lived here needed psychiatric help to cope with the traffic and noise, when his parents moved cities.
We look into the Uttar Pradesh elections and find that while the Dalit-Brahmin alliance, which was a feature of Mayawati’s victory in 2007, may have suffered cracks, political expediency will ensure that it hangs together .
We pay tribute to Homai Vyarawalla, the iconic photojournalist, through a 19-year-old unpublished interview where she speaks at length about her life and times.
Our other reportage is from Kodagu, Karnataka, where the steady stream of tourists and big plantations have not boosted the local economy to the extent they should have.
Last month we introduced gag cartoons in our pages, and these will now regularly feature in the magazine.
Our photo story is on the journeys in the general compartment of Indian Railways. Inhumanly packed, short of breathing space, it is the cheapest mode of travelling across the country—a system which is crying for a humane makeover.
Saurav Kumar, Editor