India Uncut

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Monday, September 05, 2005

Self-inflicted damage

Joel Kotkin, the author of "The City: A Global History," writes in the Wall Street Journal:
The key to understanding the fate of cities lies in knowing that the greatest long-term damage comes not from nature or foreign attacks, but often from self-infliction. Cities are more than physical or natural constructs; they are essentially the products of human will, faith and determination.

A city whose residents have given up on their future or who lose interest in it are unlikely to respond to great challenges. Decaying cities throughout history--Rome in the fifth century, Venice in the 18th--both suffered from a decayed sense of civic purpose and prime. In this circumstance, even civic leaders tend to seek out their own comfortable perches within the city or choose to leave it entirely to its poorer, less mobile residents. This has been occurring for decades in the American rust belt--think of Detroit, Cleveland and St. Louis--or to the depopulated cores in old industrial regions in the British Midlands, Germany and Russia.
There's something to think about here for citizens of all of India's cities. Our apathy can be worse than any natural disaster.

Cross-posted on Cloudburst Mumbai.
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