Conscious ‘conception-birthing-parenting’ are part of conscious living. What about conscious city planning and landscaping? Shouldn’t this also be an integral part of our considerations and social responsibility, in order to prepare the ground not only for the well-being of our children but also for creating sustainable infrastructures for generations to come? Increasing traffic, the related bad air quality, noise and lack of safety are major concerns that need to be addressed – urgently and wholeheartedly.
I am German and love India. In fact, I also live in this magnificent country with my beloved (who is Indian). One of the things I really do miss here though, is an environment that allows an exploration of land and cities by foot with ease.
It is impressive how people have adapted to the apparent road chaos and creatively move around (remarkable how accepting citizens are), but I have also observed how challenging it is to go for a walk in public, without risking health and life. There’s no denying that the traffic situation, services and facilities, are characterised by a significant neglect and attitude of indifference.
The below videos show the situation in Rishikesh (Tapovan/ Laxman Jhula) for example, and unfortunately it is emblematic for many roads in the country. Just see for yourself in the second film how a mother shields her son from all the speedy traffic. But then, the parked motorbikes force her to step on the road…
A simple stroll turns into an unnecessarily risky adventure. The current infrastructure is frustrating and worrisome – not only for mothers and fathers with their kids, pregnant women and dog owners, but for everybody who wants to go for a walk, or must walk in order to get from A to B.
Where is the walking space? How to navigate a walk when there is no pedestrian and footpath? Buses, trucks, cars, autorikshas and motorbikes have taken over. Vehicles pop up from all directions, oftentimes super speedy. Rubbish, stones, loose bricks, gravel, dog poo, cow poo and what not, create additional obstacles on the narrow sidewalks.
Feeling safe and comfortable while walking in the street is naturally given in almost any other country. In India it’s a dream and one wonders where the responsible street and city planners are. There seem absolutely no regulations for protection of public space. Least concern for pedestrian safety.
I do not even dare to wish for public parks and green areas for doing sports, walking, socialising or to simply enjoying mother Earth, although such facility is an indisputable must have in most cities on the planet. Here instead, the main focus seems on commercial spaces which pop up by the minute. The city landscape tends to be a mess and eyesore. Big old trees get ruthlessly cut and supposed height limits for buildings are blatantly ignored. And it pains me even more, when I notice the lack of maintenance of India’s ancient spiritual treasures and sacred powerspots like Rishikesh. An Indian friend also pointed out that the open loos for men and garbage dumps are a violation against public hygiene and global efforts for environmental sustainability.
Just shortly after recording the above videos, I saw a car from Delhi bumping into a woman holding a baby in her arms. She walked on the stingy path beside a busy road. The driver caught her from behind, just laughed (!) and drove away. Supported by family members, she was ok, but shock and disbelief stood on her face. While it is hardly possible to control the driving behaviour of individuals, it is possible to control the development of road structures.
Time to take a strategic approach and bring awakened consciousness, humanity, sustainability and beauty into public space-planning and infrastructure implementation.
In the following 2 mins. recording, Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev eloquently describes that a new attitude is indeed needed to secure India’s development and survival (original: “Sadhguru & Baba Ramdev at Rally for Rivers event at Haridwar” on YouTube):