Delhi at 100

There’s a rather charming slideshow on the BBC here on the changing face of Delhi by one of its elderly residents. A shame that the city authorities haven’t made more of this to be honest. Delhi remains an enigmatic and petulant youth amongst other capitals: certainly for me infuriating and engaging at the same time.

 

Of course, as Kanika Singh, Convener of Delhi Heritage Walks told Tehelka magazine, not everyone shares that view, “Only last year, we evicted all street hawkers while preparing for the Commonwealth Games—and now we are celebrating their contributed (sic.) to our ‘heritage’. I don’t feel like celebrating this occasion. Whose Delhi are we celebrating?”.

The point is surely that cities only belong to their inhabitants when they feel they have some stake in them. I agree that most of Delhi is too busy trying to earn a crust to survive to be bothered about the anniversary but surely (and, if you’ve read this blog before you will know that I am the very last person to romanticise or excuse the Raj) the city is the sum of it’s parts: Hindu, Muslim and the British all have legacies that has made Delhi what it is and decrying any of those for some neo-nationalist point is surely counter-productive. Delhi is what it is and pretending that the city – or indeed much of India for that matter, doesn’t have some English blood is as pointless and saying it isn’t a melting pot of past empires. Selective cultural memory is a very dangerous thing for all societies (remember Ayodya?) and only by melding the various strains in a city (certainly one as large and anarchic as Delhi) can you hope to create a genuinely inclusive society…

Anyway, lecture over. Here’s one I made earlier…

India - Gurgaon - Bricklayers constructing a house in the shadow of an exclusive new development

 

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