You know how every foreign visitor to India is warned – ‘There are cows on the roads – in cities!’ and they come and are amazed to find cows strolling in our medians and traffic islands and empty plots.
I have been thinking – why can’t we just accept this identity of ours – we do have cows in our cities! We are people who love our so-called fresh milk being delivered at our home even though everything else might come from a packaged product. When did urbanization mean the need to start drinking from cartons! Why can’t we redefine what cities and what urban means to us – it for sure shouldn’t be 75% of male population into non-agricultural works for starters! We seem to be contesting our identity all the time – be it our urban villages, be it our peri-urban rural precincts that get engulfed in administrative urban boundaries or our lifestyles which may appear to be ‘not city like’. What is really city like? Why are we so fixated on adopting ideas of a city that do not resonate with our own identity? New developing cities in West Africa and Latin America- seem to be more peace with them. Some of them in their master plan talk about ideas of urban agriculture.
I think it’s time we become in peace with our urban-rural/city-non city identity too and then design and plan for it. Let the cows not wander in the median – we might as well have pastures in the city for them!