Search for a New Delhi
Written by Abhishek Paul
I am sure you have pondered being a resident of Delhi that what will happen to the city in a few years down the line. Considering the increasing levels of pollution, decreasing supply of water to the remote locations within the city, rising levels of population, traffic & crime against women adding to diminishing levels of patience, obedience towards law and respect towards those less privileged, i sometimes feel the city is growing old and probably getting diseased beyond recovery.
It clearly shows how responsibly we have cared for the city that has cared for us through our infancy, childhood, adulthood and even old age for some of us and how we intend to address the risks that exist in contributing to losing Delhi’s charm.
I am sure there have been various reiterations of this article through more learned and influential folks who genuinely take pride in being a resident of Delhi and more importantly better equipped to take action to make things better by being the change. In comparison I would consider my contribution to be very less in this realm of making things better and rather contributing it to be worse. However, I do feel that sharing some thoughts that I had on what could be the future of the city might help us all to be better prepared for the horizons ahead. This may even be applicable to all the major metro cities in India and a possible threat to all of them not just Delhi.
The fact that there are probably high pay jobs in the city attract a lot of people to be a part of the city and start a new life and the cycle is fulfilled since multi national corporates feel the best of talents are available in the metros and hence setup their base in the city with an objective to earn well and let people earn well too. However, in the recent times, I think we have all witnessed how a selected groups of individuals lead by impactful leaders in their own right have lead the city to a standstill; be it release of films, riot like situations due to demand for reservations, spiritual leaders turning rogue, political speeches and actions aiming towards religious divide, hearse van processions, mismanagement of water clogging and potholes in every season without a reason, inability to curtail rogue elements of the society not only determined to ruin the present of the community but also the future generations; to name just a few.
In the corporate language there is a concept of Business Continuity Management or BCP which requires to have a BCP plan and sometimes even a BCP strategy depending on severity for situations that can cause hindrance to the regular functioning of the people, processes and systems to keep the business up and running. Nothing new has been there since the inception of risk management to avoid substantial impact to business operations. However, the fact that both the incidents and the severity thereof are increasing and in the absence of extra costs the most convenient option to exercise for a majority is to work from home, it does force me to think what would stop the jobs from going away from Delhi and into the 2nd tier cities like Pune, Ahmedabad, Chandigarh and many others which probably have a better future of creating infrastructure to boast of and also part of the vision for smart cities. Why would these cities not becoming more lucrative for the corporates to explore and move if they feel the forced BCP situations are on the rise and not expected to decline considering the neutral approach of the governments to extinguish the self caused fire.
Just imagine if in the next 10 to 15 years, if Delhi reaches its saturation point along with some of the other metro cities in India and 2nd tier cities come to the rescue, can you imagine that it could probably lead to a crisis even for majority of the rich and privileged upper and lower middle class who are probably banking on the real estate and other similar fixed assets they have been able to create in these cities. When the jobs go away and along with it the disposable income to buy luxury items, Delhi as we know it will never be the same. In fact there could be a potential sub prime situation considering the amount of money invested in residential and commercial properties anticipating the rise of the values, a concept which is fundamentally standing on the pillars of employment and high per capita income. Once the jobs go away so will the buying power and the ego that every individual carries in his/her back pocket proudly associating him to one of the metro cities primarily because of the privileges that one can buy with the disposable income that one has.
I know the solution to this problem will not be easy, as we are not looking for it, and its possible the city will be able to breathe as long as the current living generation does, but what about the future of the city and the future of the next generation for whom we are trying to build our little empires in the city? Would they have a choice like we do? Would it not be fair on their part to remember us as legends who destroyed the city for their own pleasure to live lavishly and turning a blind eye to the obvious. I think like all corporates its time for us to either take hold of what we want the future of the city to be or at least have a BCP plan and strategy of our own to be able to survive when the city nears its expiry. Its not going to be easy for some who wish to preserve the city, but its easy for some to run away if that’s what the plan is, much ahead of time, so that the ones planning to preserve have a better chance of increasing the survival rate of the city and its future generations.
The search for a New Delhi may be endless as 2 things that would never come back will be time and opportunity and 2 things that would definitely come about whether for the better or for the worse is change and choice.