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A conversation in order to conserve and make Kochi, alias Cochin, a liveable city

This is a conversation between an academic-turned politician and a professional. Both of them are common citizens of this country aspiring for making a better society, by creating a liveable city. The dialogue is a serious effort to explore the possibility of a certain convergence towards a liveable city. It embodies and expresses a layperson’s desire to deserve a liveable city. The entire exploration is meant to be a simple, sensitive, and straightforward narrative uninhibited by the complexities of scientific attitude and political maneuvering. With this backdrop, Prof. Richard Hay presents a wish list of possibilities which would make Kochi, a sustainable city and Dr. Mansee Bal Bhargava deciphers those with generic responses in terms of liveability.
It is a long journey from the Spice Route of Cochin to the Smart City of Kochi. A coastal sleepy city in the district of Ernakulam is the densest city in Kerala. Also known by the name Ernakulam, the journey of this Queen of Arabian Sea flaunts from being the finest natural harbors of the world as a center of the world spice trade for centuries that Arabs, Chinese and Europeans traded to being among the most happening city in the country with business, education, art, culture and politics. With the hustling bustling of the financial, commercial and industrial capital of the state augmented with the pressure of urbanization, Kochi holds its share of mounting social-ecological concerns. Richard in his conversation with Mansee acknowledges those concerns implicitly while explicitly desiring a Liveable Kochi City.
Richard Hay is an Indian politician, representing Bharatiya Janata Party, and a former Member of Parliament (Lok Sabha), nominated between 2015 to 2019 from Kerala representing the Anglo-Indian community. He is an acclaimed educationist, writer, social worker, sportsperson. Mansee Bal Bhargava is a transdisciplinary learner of the built environment that includes architecture, urban design, planning, management, and governance of large-scale developments. Her engagement in entrepreneurship, research, education, speaking, and mentoring towards sustainability and liveability shows her concerns about the society and ecology. While the former’s writing on ‘Professionalization of Teachers and Institutions’ digs into the behavior and of the institutional system, the latter’s writing on ‘Why Resource Governance Fails?’ digs into the behavior of the individuals referring to managing waterbodies (lakes). The conversation also goes in referring to the fact that sustainability goals are institutional matter that require actions on ground by individuals where we live and wish for liveability.
Here is the conversation initiated by Richard (R) and responded by Mansee (M):
R: Namaste ji. Good evening, Madam. We at Cochin are forming a group to give practical suggestions to create a Clean, Green and planned city. We shall be highly obliged to you if you would kindly send your valuable suggestions in this regard.
M: Dear Prof. Richard Hay, thank you for reaching out. Shall we talk and explore what activities you are planning at Cochin and how you may like to engage my learning there. I am honored to be part of the group that you are forming.
R: Thanks a lot for being a part of this small but committed group. I shall send you what we have developed so far. We have to prepare a plan of action which could be emulated by other cities in the country. My suggestions while preparing the Concept note and Plan of Action to make Kochi a Clean, Green and Hygienic City are given below for your kind perusal and action. Below are the pointers seeking your advice.
M: Sure. Keen to learn and share.
R1. Public Awareness about Cleanliness, Hygiene and Conservation of Nature to be promoted.
M: Yes, however, people are aware about cleanliness, hygiene; if not fully about conservation of nature. An example of that is the immediate place of living among both rich & poor is usually kept clean and hygienic. It is the public realm that is left to the government and the gods (and even dogs, hahahaa!). Therefore, awakening is needed among us for cleanliness and hygiene of the surroundings beyond the self. Corona lockdown could have been utilized to inculcate this social behavior, but alas! a lost opportunity!
R2. Ensuring citizens participation in all initiatives of the City Administration in making the City Clean, Green and Hygienic.
M: Yes, devising a strategic mechanism for citizen participation beyond tokenism is crucial for proper maintenance of the city. As long as policies, programs and projects will be decided top down and designed by the officials, leaders and consultants, getting the citizens onboard as well as successful implementation of initiatives shall remain challenging. Also, we (government and citizens) live under the myth that government is the service provider and citizens are the users, then public participation and that too long term is bound to be challenging. Sense of ownership and association are crucial for participation and that may transcend the sense of direct (economic) benefit especially for clean, green, and hygienic. There are best case examples now in the country from small village Mowlinong to small city Mysore to a metro like Indore.
R3. Involve NGO’s, students, NCC and Celebrities and Media.
M: Absolutely. City governance is a polycentric activity. Partnerships (SDG 12) for the goals is at the core of achieving sustainability and liveability. Important is that partnership is beyond the nexus of the knowns and napotism. Leadership that empowers is crucial in the partnerships. We need maximum governance, minimum government and that is only possible when NGO’s, students, NCC and Celebrities and Media are engaged in constructive democracy. City management is people management.
R4. Fulfil Sustainable Development Goals 11 as targeted by UN.
M: Sustainable cities and communities (SDG11) must be the aim of every political leader and government official and that must transcend beyond road-bridge-building constructions. Their training is utmost crucial for the message to percolate into the society. Important is that the relationship of the global goal to local actions must be established and enthused into the leaders and officials. Besides, equity is crucial to attain SDG11, rich has to let go some things now for the poor to have the basic needs in a limited resource scenario. Gender inclusivity is most crucial to achieve the SDG goals as more than half the population are left out when substantial number of women are not included in the process since women bring along the matter of children as well as biodiversity.
R5. Follow the Master Plan for development of Kochi.
M: Certainly however, following requires proper information sharing among the officials, politicians, consultants, contractors, labours and citizens. Master Plan is a public document to deploy. Its making and implementing must be utmost transparent. I am not even talking about the opaqueness of its making but implementation, yes follow it. Besides regular monitoring and evaluation of the Master Plan to recalibrate the planned as per the contextual parameters. Unless Master Plan making is not made participatory, implementation shall remain the biggest weakness in achieving liveable city.
R6. Health care of citizens, a top priority.
M: 100% agree. Healthy cities make citizens healthy. You may like to join our international workshop from Epidemics Urbanism on this on June 11th. The city planning must returns to its original intent of public health, healthy communities to be sustainable-liveable. Kerala health champions don the world, and the state performs better than other states in the country. COVID has exposed the health system of the country and the state and thus we know we have a long way to go in the health infrastructure. Besides, stress must be on making healthy cities including preventive measures, which is a core component of liveable cities. The budget allocation on health in the city has to be supreme alongside education as being healthy also require right education.
R7. Proper Sewage treatment plants.
M: 100% agree however, our Treatments plants become dysfunctional before the official expiry of the technology implemented. This is because of the inadequate assessment of the sewage and treatment capacity besides the nature of sewage and malpractices in Operation and Maintenance. Incentives to decentralize treatments at neighborhood level (as much as possible) is crucial. Important also is to introduce bioenzymes in every household to reduce the treatment load (R8, 9, 10, 15, 16). Pity that Celebrities are selling acid cleaners through ads and earning millions while polluting the environment.
R8. Clogged canals with waste to be cleaned. Ensure Clean water bodies.
M: Canals are the nervous system (Nadis) of the waterbodies if compared with human body. Canals must be designated as waterbodies and not drains and conveyed to the local government and community. We must stop treating canals as garbage dump yard and imagine them as beautiful swales.
R9. Waste management strategies to be put in place.
M: Reduction in the production of Waste must be the core strategy towards liveable city. (Ir)responsible consumption and production (SDG12) is the father of all problems particularly waste (R10, 11, 12, 20). Then comes the other aspects of waste management. Apparently, we don’t want to work on ourselves but on the waste only, but that may not help anymore. Governments have to come out and say to consume less. More production for economy is against ecological approach.
R10. Segregating garbage at source and processing by sustainable sanitation methods.
Waste segregation at source needs to be informed and educated to every household. A budget has to be allocated for this social movement. We have to start promoting use of conscience and common sense (stop following media) to start with to reduce/optimize our consumption/shopping. A major conscience drive through educating and enlightening the citizens including the local leaders and government which the spiritual-religious gurus (could have) failed to do.
R11. Recycling of plastic and other waste.
Then, recycling isn’t enough anymore as it does not advocate reduction in the production of plastic. Plastic production needs serious thinking and producers have to be made more responsible in recycling.
R12. Bringing down Pollution.
We need to introduce more Rs into our lives to bring down pollution. Those are, Refuse, Rethink, Reduce, Reuse, Repair, Refurbish, Remanufacture, Repurpose, Recycle, Recover, Regift. SDG 12 has to be taken more seriously by the leaders and government than they do. There has to be budget allocated for SDG12 unlike right now when no budget is allocated at the centre as well as the state. Redefining wellbeing is also necessary. Ironically, most wastes are generated by the middle-upper class and until now only 30% waste on an average is recycled/treated. Importantly, poor people recycle a lot of our building waste to make their huts. Most ironic is that all (solid-liquid) wastes end up in the water as the last resort, so the answer to pollution lies in our lifestyle. The Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974 and the Solid Waste Management Rules, 2016 must be religiously followed.
R13. Vehicular, construction site pollution to be monitored.
M: Yes, at the same time vehicle ownership also needs monitoring as no roads and transports will be enough otherwise and the increasing vehicular pollution is alarming with Kochi, the Smart City, among the most polluted cities despite the advantage of having sea to absorb most of its pollution (R22).
R14. Air Quality Index to be exhibited in public spaces to alert the citizens.
M: Yes, hoping that it will make citizens aware of the pollution generated by us with the use of private cars, construction of buildings, etc.
R15. Untreated wastewater from drainages flowing into water bodies to be controlled.
M: Difficult to control untreated wastewater as we do not have wastewater discharge system in place other than letting them into the waterbodies. Domestic/municipal waste is a bigger concern than industrial in urban areas. Introduce bioenzymes in every household to reduce the pollution, the water can easily be sent to the waterbodies. Choice is in our hands whether we want more pollution more treatment or lesser of both. Incentives to bioenzyme is not rocket science. High time, every house starts using it. The least is to stop promoting those acids and toilet cleaners.
R16. Hygienic public toilets at all public places.
M: Clean toilet is a fundamental right and not a luxury. Clean public toilets require water as well as social awareness. When most people don’t keep their house toilets clean, we are far from keeping public toilets clean. Hygiene and health are interlinked is yet to percolate in the society. We need budget for continuous social drive.
R17. Planting and protection of saplings of avenue, flowering, shadow bearing trees.
M: Yes, the roadside needs more soft spaces for vegetation than allocated today. With barely space left on roads and pavements, plants struggle to grow. In addition, concretizing the existing tree trunks during the road and pavement construction must stop. We need to plant trees for trees and other animals also besides for humans. In cities the more we create buildings for investments, the lesser the trees will remain. Then planting a sapling for cutting a tree for development is the biggest crime done by humans.
R18. Availability of Clean water to all citizens.
M: Definitely, clean water is a part of fundamental right to Live according to Article 21: ‘Protection of Life and Personal Liberty’. The Jal Jeevan Mission-Har Ghar Jal aims to do so. However, the access to water to all is possible if there is a political will. The lack of access to clean water to all is a distribution problem induced by the discriminatory management by the city’s (elitist) governance. If fives stars, sports, recreation, and elites can get water all the time, there is enough water for all (needs). If tanker mafias can get water for the poor, local government can also get, it is matter of poor governance borne out of corruption. Also, if we segregate use of clean water and channel it for drinking, we can put up infra for recycled water for other usage. Novel thinking and implementing are the need of the hour as the country’s water crisis (for the poor) is rising in leaps and bounds.
R19. Swatch Bharath Abhiyan to be implemented.
M: The budgeting of the Swachch Bharat needs reworking towards giving money into the hands of the people for swachchta. Nearly, 50% budget has to go on making citizens aware with demonstration on reduction of waste generation and segregation of waste. Also, the commercials promoting excess consumption needs curtailing. The more we aspire to increase the economy, the waste generation is bound to increase and Swachch Bharat is then mere hollow agenda.
R20. Spitting and littering in public spaces to be prohibited.
M: Yes, make the men aware of the irresponsibility of polluting the city to the extent of hammering the info unlike what is happening when superstars are promoting Gutka. Stop the industries producing Gutkas. How can we even allow such production which does no good to the society in consumption and in production of waste besides the health hazards? Policing of public spaces shall remain challenging when people are not self-policing their own health, then realizing the adverse impact of dirty environment is a distant thing.
R21. Well maintained roads and Two-way cycle tracks to be maintained.
M: Yes. If we spend more budget in maintenance than in new constructions, we can better maintain what we already have. Cycling path is good idea however short distance cycling is only possible in our weather conditions. Importantly, we need to go past our social taboo that poor cycles to work and promote cycle as a fashion to encourage more people to cycle.
R22. Eco- friendly constructions to be made mandatory.
M: Building wastes constitute 35-40% of the solid waste and we are yet to be concerned about it in the veil of development. There are several ways to do ecofriendly constructions. However, now the matter is beyond that based on the high vacancy rate in the existing buildings. Much of the constructions that take place today are for economy and not necessarily for need including the highways and bridges. We genuinely need to analyse the extravagant buildings constructions.
R23. Promoting responsible and Eco-friendly tourism.
M: Well, tourism is among the key spoilers of the city’s environment. When we focus everything around tourism the economic component naturally outweighs the ecological component. Tourists lack sense of association to the place and know that they buy a right to exploit the facilities with not much rules imposed on them. Tourism also reduces local people’s sense of association. Awakened citizens of Amsterdam resisted against tourism for this reason some time ago. Promoting responsible and eco-friendly tourism requires to be strategic from the governments, hoteliers, restaurants, transports, tour operators, etc. side. Bhutan is a good example to follow to make tourism eco-friendly however, payment for the services is a double edge sword in our corrupt culture but worth trying.
R24. Parking spaces to be developed.
M: Cars to be reduced. There are enough parking spaces. Every car takes two parking spaces thus reducing the public space in the city. New parking spaces should be essentially public spaces with multiple functions like, playground, celebration-event ground, rainwater percolation and thus essentially be left as earthed spaces with tree plantation in parking intervals (R30).
R25. Utilizing local resources and Labour for development.
M: Absolutely. That has to start from the local governments doing projects with local consultants and contractors through transparent bidding. There is a bad trend in every city that outside consultants are hired which again make things distanced. Local experts can be more associated and held more accountable. As far as unskilled labour is concerned rich states like Kerala is short of them with high international migration, so labours from lesser developed states are likely to continue migrating and many of whom eventually land up in the poor living conditions. Important is that the government and developers devise a system to accommodate the migrants with better shelter and basic needs. Simply treat them as fellow citizens and not lower-class people. Unless poor people are well off, rich peoples’ aspiration of a liveable city is an unattainable goal. This simple math should not be difficult to comprehend by the educated elites.
R26. Mosquito- free Kochi.
M: Yes, for which Treat the water and solid pollutions. To reduce the production of wastewater and solid waste, reduce the consumption of goods at every household to produce lesser waste. Push for household bioenzymes and composting to reduce pollution load in the city (R7,12,15).
R27. Rehabilitation of slum dwellers.
M: Yes. Alongside, tax the rich who have vacant properties. In a limited resource world, as long as few will have more (and unused), many are bound to be deprived. Initiate short living transit housing. The vacancy rate is taxing upon the sustainability of the cities.
R28. Ensure affordable housing for the marginalized.
Integration into the mainstream housing is key to housing for the poor. However, we need to understand that for poor housing is secondary issue than livelihood. Their preference will be more towards rental housing. When every township accommodates atleast 10-15% housing for the poor, it is a win-win for the poor and the rich. The housing for poor in township can be rented to work in the township and if someone can buy the houses, well and good. The developer anyway will make profits from the overall development. All that is required is to make it compulsory and rich to accommodate (R27).
R29. More public parks with open gyms and separate playing areas for children.
M: Yes, as per the Urban and Regional Development Plans Formulation and Implementation (URDPFI) Guidelines 2014, every person in the country is entitled to designated 10 to 12 of open space in the form of parks, gardens, playgrounds, etc. Kochi is not doing better if we calculate the water channels and the seafront as public open spaces however, as designated open spaces every city in India is way too below the national standards. We need to reclaim spaces for people and can only happen when we establish relationship of health with the public open spaces. Vacant lands must be allowed to use by all.
R30. More clean walkways like Marine Drive walkway to be well maintained.
M: Yes, but clean is subjective if we discount the discussion on solid waste. When pathways are made to choke the tree trunks, to house the electric poles-boxes, informal squatting, we know that the pathways are designed smaller than required since, much of the space is assigned to carcitecture we need to decrease car spaces to increase pathways on the existing right of ways.
R31. More MEMU trains, one can connect the Old Railway station near High Court and extend it to different parts where metro train facilities are lacking.
M: Yes, may be. Important is a genuine evaluation whether metro trains have reduced cars on the roads. Case studies show not but still public transport must be promoted given the rising concerns of private travel due to prices.
R32. Maintenance of all historic buildings with proper facilities provided to tourists. Conservation of all heritage sites, museums, building. artefacts, statues, Chinese nets.
M: Absolutely. Heritage conservation is crucial however historic buildings maintenance for tourism must transcend to conservation for the future generation. Worth spending substantial funds for their conservation as proud heritage where tourism is complementary and not the driving force. Kochi is the culturally, historically and economically rich city. Conserving heritage must be a priority as per the Article 49 of the Indian Constitution to protect the country’s-built heritage and The Ancient Monuments and Archaeological Sites and Remains Act of 1958.
R33. Solar energy to be fully tapped. Solar streetlights to be used.
M: Yes and No. Yes, for optimal use. No, we must understand the wastes the solar energy is generates which is until now unaccounted for. Important is to question why do we need lights every few meters and everywhere? If cities are unsafe, we really need to invest on Men’s conduct. Many European countries are now talking about keeping the late-night lights off. But yes, late evening lights can be switched to solar.
R34. Water transport facilities to be fully utilized as it is surrounded by backwaters, canals and rivers and sea.
M: Yes. However, the transport vehicles and otherwise must adhere to the national policies like the Maritime Zones of India Act 1976 and the Coast Guard Act 1978 for protection of the marine environment. the water in Kochi is already enough polluted and disturbing the aquatic life.
R35. Farming activities to be scientifically done to meet the city dwellers needs for vegetables, local fruits and herbal products. Homestead farming to be emphasized.
M: Yes, absolutely. Sustenance farming should be promoted instead of farming for economy. Organic farming must engage in practice.
R36. Rainwater harvesting to be promoted.
M: Yes, but roof water harvesting though important but is overrated. We need to harvest rainwater in lakes, ponds, canals and rivers and in the open spaces like maidans. Discouraging paving of open surfaces is crucial. At the same time, awareness on excess extraction of ground water is crucial. The rate of groundwater withdrawal is way too higher than the meagre rainwater harvesting. India only harvests 8-10% of its rainwater and this is because of the improper management of the waterbodies. The approach of the National Water Mission campaign ‘Catch the Rain’ needs serious reworking besides it contradicts with the impetus on agriculture and industry for economy.
R37. Promoting the cuisines and costumes of Kochi.
M: Yes, tradition and culture of cuisines and costumes are important heritage to be preserved. Cochin is among the oldest cultural exchange place. The Influx of global lifestyle is a competitor to the diminishing local cuisines and costumes. ‘Make in India’ and ‘Indic Knowledge’ promotions are good move but then it has to be led from the front by the leaders and not to be limited to common citizens.
R38. All public transport facilities and public space to be made disabled- friendly.
M: Yes, it is a mandate now as per The Rights of Persons with Disabilities Act, 2016. The implementation has to begin with the local governments supported by the consultants. First all the government buildings, transport, spaces, etc. and show by example and simultaneously push the private sector. Until we develop respect for the vulnerable, we are far from attaining a liveable city.
R39. Control of stray dogs without any harm to them.
M: Hmmn, already we are going against the animal rights in many ways and subjugating the existing policies like the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act 1960 and the Wildlife Protection Act 1972. For example, if animals are pushed to eat plastic and if there are no water sources for them to drink, it is already against the law and humanity. The kind of waste humans generate the scavengers like the dogs, pigs and others are the nature’s own way of cleaning. When we see from this angle, we can actually respect their presence and role in the overall ecosystem. We need to keep our neighborhoods clean in first place.
R40. Trophies for Residents Assn and Apartment Assn, educational institutions Companies, etc. for
maintaining Clean Green and Hygienic surroundings.
M: This is important and a win-win. Operationalizing and maintaining this institutional arrangement for monitoring is crucial and worth learning for local government. We can look at the Dutch system of Neighborhood maintenance where RWAs are facilitated by the local authority to keep their respective neighborhoods clean.
R41. Eco- friendly industries which would neither cause pollution nor create waste that could not be
recycled and reused.
M: Yes, but! The Central Pollution Control Board has an extensive classification of Industrial Sectors (2016) under red, orange, green and white categories and through its state arm SPCB the industrial functioning is monitored. If we do not chase economy, if the industrialists’ function ethically, if their CETPs run properly, if there is strict vigilance on corruption on standards-pollution approvals, etc. industries can be modelled for green-blue sustainability. Alas! Btw, the domestic pollution is equally big threat as industry. Moreover, we need to work on reducing our demands of extravagance.
R42. A well-conceived Disaster Management program.
M: Absolutely. The national policies, plans and guidelines for disaster management envisions the development of an ethos of prevention, mitigation, preparedness, and response as per the Disaster Management Act, 2005. States like Kerala has its further tools to address recurring disasters on ground as has been observed time and again. With rising climate change, we need more thinking on the nexus of land, water, disaster, and displacement. We should also prepare to prevent epidemics and pandemics with the advent of climate change. Well, human created disasters like noise, light, digital, poverty, malnutrition, violence and several others have implicit acceptance in the society and our focus is on the natural disasters, but it is worth pondering on these other disasters.
R43. As water logging during the rainy season is a permanent disaster faced by the citizens of Kochi, proper water management systems to be developed
M: Water management is at the heart of most cities in the world. Kochi and whole of Kerala has built a resilience for addressing water disasters. Most of the flooding inside the city can be averted by simply focusing on the drains (R8). Blocking the drains, changing the contours, reclaiming the waterbodies, approving buildings in lowlands have to stop to avert the flood situations. When we are water grabbing to produce land, water is giving it back to us. The Polder management in The Netherlands is a good case study to refer to.
R44. Signages and billboards of uniform size and color.
M: Signages and billboards showcase manifest our democratic expression as chaos where each one wants to be louder than other and in the process are collectively creating aesthetic pollution to the cities. We need better urban design guidelines for improving city’s aesthetics and reducing the pollution created by the signages and billboards. Let the start be from the government by stopping the selling/renting of the roadside/median spaces for advertisements, then putting the government buildings, public spaces in order. It is not rocket science to set guidelines for signages and billboards if we collectively agree to not put the everything in the city look like ‘they are on sale’.
R45. Safety of women and children to be ensured.
M: This issue is at the core of all the above issues we discussed so far. In a society where women and children are unsafe, men (powering the decision making in most sectors) should be embarrassed. More work is needed on MEN to provide safe environment for women and children. Tracking men’s behavior is crucial to curb most domestic and public space matters for women and children. Also if more women leaders are there in the decision making, anyway, many of the above problems will be discussed as primary and hence resolved, instead of running after economy only.

The Conclusion

The pointers tell that the desire to have a liveable city is inherent in every person’s life, be it politician or a professional alias common citizen. The pointers cover a range of elements that ascribe livability of a place, urban amenity, housing, transport, air and water quality, natural environment, and heritage, social and aesthetic aspects. Liveability describes the frame conditions of a decent life for all inhabitants of cities, regions and communities including their physical and mental wellbeing. Liveability is based on the principles of sustainability and smart; and is sensitive to nature and the protection of its resource.
Liveability can be simply measured by factors that provide quality of life, such as access to fresh water, food, housing, transport, health care, education and a safe and stable environment. As per the Liveability Index, the best places (liveable) in the world, show indicators such as, stability, healthcare, culture and environment, education and infrastructure as crucial and not the economy per se. In addition, the crucial aspects of livable cities in general are, robust and complete neighborhoods, accessibility and sustainable mobility, a diverse and resilient local economy, vibrant public spaces, and affordability.
The Ease of Living Index in India among the cities with a population of less than a million have Kochi positioned at 39 in 2021 behind many Tier-II cities, with an overall score of 51.41 points. Liveable city in nutshell means healthier and happier citizens and communities. These pointers can be attained when there is common sense and conscience applied in the science of city building. Richard and Mansee’s scheme of things can be related to attaining liveability principles by head and heart respectively. Politicians, policymakers, professionals and people must keep pace with development to make sure good urban planning leads to better overall health and wellbeing. History tells us that economy cannot create better living conditions because there is a serious distribution issue due to capitalism, access to water, housing are simple examples of that. Instead, a culture of good citizenship is crucial to building a liveable city. With the climate and communal induced rising distresses in the society, we definitely need a serious discourse on the direction of the society because, economy cannot bring peace and ecology however, the other way around is possible.
Richard’s pointers are easily attainable however dependent on the leadership and the motivation of the governing organization. The society needs responsible citizenship led by responsible leaders and government where we share common goals (like these pointers) and communicate in conducive environment for the commitment besides devise mechanism for conflict resolution. If at all we become law abiding citizens and just simply follow the written rules, most of these pointers can be attained. A right leadership that exercises less power and empowers more local leaderships with funding and facilitating support to implement novel ideas. There is definitely need/room for more women leaderships to shift the focus on the core issues of the society like food security, education, health, environment, wellbeing, and many others encompassing liveability that transcends development economy. We need better human development index than development economy as they are not directly proportional to each other.
If politicians and professionals can share such shared vision for their city, it is possible to model an overall idea of liveability principles from neighborhood scale to city and country. Leadership, government and collective efforts crucial in operationalizing the ideas, mobilizing the funds and engaging the citizens. Well, leaders and governments are reflection of the people in the society. So, for every initiative towards liveable city, broadly allocating half the funds for social mobilizing and half in placemaking is must because city management is citizens management. Richard and Mansee are onboard towards making Kochi a ‘Liveable City’! Are you joining them?


Unknown said…
Very Frank comments by R- local politician.
40 odd Qs needs addressal, can be done easily as Literacy level is high, and all issues can be easily addressed.
In general if certain pertinent inputs are made ie time and efforts are expended, a lot of good can be achieved.
Notings issued for doing Social and Environmental good in communities..
Well wishes to All ...


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By Tanupriya Singh  Even as the floodwaters have receded, the people of Pakistan are still trying to grapple with the death and devastation the floods have left in their wake. The floods that swept across the country between June and September have killed more than 1,700 people, injured more than 12,800, and displaced millions as of November 18. The scale of the destruction in Pakistan was still making itself apparent as the world headed to the United Nations climate conference COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, in November.  Pakistan was one of two countries invited to co-chair the summit. It also served as chair of the Group of 77 (G77) and China for 2022, playing a critical role in ensuring that the establishment of a loss and damage fund was finally on the summit’s agenda, after decades of resistance by the Global North. “The dystopia has already come to our doorstep,” Pakistan’s Minister for Climate Change Sherry Rehman told Reuters. By the first week of September, pleas for h

Implementing misleading govt order to pollute Hyderabad's 100 year old reservoirs

Senior activists* represent to the Telangana Governor on GO Ms 69 dated 12.4.2022 issued by the Municipal Administration and Urban Development (MA&UD), Government of Telangana: ‘...restrictions imposed under para 3 of said GO Ms 111 dated 8.3.1996 are removed...’: *** Ref: GO Ms 111 dated 8.3.1996: ‘To prohibit polluting industries, major hotels, residential colonies or other establishments that generate pollution in the catchment of the lakes upto 10kms from full tank level as per list in Annexure-I...’ We come to your office with grievance that GO Ms 69 dated 12.4.2022 issued by Government of Telangana not only contains false information issued ‘By Order and in the name of the Governor of Telangana’ , without any scientific or expert reports, but also that implementation of the said GO is detrimental and can be catastrophic to the Hyderabad city as two 100 year old reservoirs Osman Sagar and Himayath Sagar were constructed as dams on river Moosa and river Esa, with the first and

Qatar World Cup has a strong Bangladesh connection: stadium construction, t-shirts

By Mashrur Siddique Bhuiyan*  The FIFA World Cup fever has unquestionably cut through the minds of mass people all over the world. Stadiums in Qatar are buzzing with football fans and athletes representing their countries at the “Greatest Show on Earth". The magic of the FIFA World Cup is so enormous that even being unable to participate does not matter much to the fans who support different nations. This is one of the highest viewed events in the world, with the 2018 event viewed by about 3.6 billion people worldwide. But this crowd is not aware of the contribution of migrant workers who helped build the very stadiums where the matches are playing in. Qatar won the bid in 2010 to host the FIFA World Cup 2022, which got the oxymoron of celebration and controversy. This also created the potential for Qatar to Showcase its monumental economic achievements and unique culture on the global stage. The motto for Qatar’s bid team in 2010 was ‘Expect Amazing’ and migrant workers across th

Why foreign diplomats must maintain diplomatic etiquette, protocol in Bangladesh

By Kamal Uddin Mazumder*  Foreign governments and organizations are not allowed to dictate how a sovereign country like Bangladesh should run its politics. The 12th national parliamentary elections are drawing near, and the election wind has started to blow in Dhaka. The political parties have already begun to plan their voting strategy through a variety of events. However, this time, the diplomatic community in Dhaka is very active. A number of Western ambassadors frequently meet with government departments, political party representatives, the Election Commission (EC), and members of civil society in Dhaka. At numerous forums, they discuss upcoming elections' management, fairness, and impartiality -- issues that are unquestionably domestic to Bangladesh and in no way fall under the purview of diplomacy. Additionally, it has been noted that diplomats have made public remarks on these subjects in front of the media. It raises the question of how much authority diplomatic protocol h

Bangladesh's ties with Myanmar, Nepal, China need connectivity with India's NE states

By Samara Ashrat*  On 26th November, India's External Affairs Minister S Jaishankar said that India is trying to improve trade and connectivity with Bangladesh and Myanmar on his two-day visit to India's Northeast region. He emphasized the importance of linking Northeastern India to the rest of the nation and reiterated Delhi is working to improve connectivity and infrastructure in the region. By taking the G20 presidency India will try to showcase the true spirit of the Northeast to the world, with its tourism benefits. But, the umbilical cord between the Indian mainland and North Eastern Region is Chicken's Neck or Siliguri corridor which brings Bangladesh into the Indian equation of northeastern development. Not only that, Bangladesh has very close relations with West Bengal, Assam, Meghalaya, and Tripura in terms of language, culture, and history. These factors make Bangladesh an inextricable element of the development of the northeastern states. Tourism Sector and Con

25 years of CHT peace accord: A glorious chapter of conflict resolution in Bangladesh

By Kamal Uddin Mazumder*  Conflicts between the Bangladesh army and Shanti Bahini persisted in the Chittagong Hill Tracts for more than two decades. On December 2, 1997, Parbatya Chattagram Jana Samhati Samiti (PCJSS) and the Bangladeshi government signed the CHT Accord, putting an end to the violent armed conflict and improving the life of a lot of the people there. It has been made possible through just seven meetings under the worthy leadership of Sheikh Hasina. The historic peace agreement created an atmosphere of peace in the mountainous region. An atmosphere of peace has been established by ending the armed conflict. The geographical features and ethnic diversity of Chittagong Hill Tracts (CHT) are distinctive. The 13,184 square kilometer territory is bordered by Myanmar and the Indian state of Mizoram on the East and Tripura on the North. With its 1.6 million people, it entails great importance to Bangladesh for its geopolitical location. Due to the conflict-prone Northeast Indi

A classic, 'Gandhi' ignores merciless cruelty unleashed on militant freedom fighters

By Harsh Thakor  The movie ‘Gandhi’ produced by Richard Attenborough, which was released 40 years ago on November 30th, 1982, was classic in it's own right. Ironical that it took an Englishman to embark upon the making of a film on this legendary figure. I can't visualize a better pictorial portrayal of Gandhi's life or an actor getting in the skin of the character an exuding the mannerisms as actor Ben Kingsley. Episodes are crafted and grafted surgically, illustrating how Gandhi wove fragmented bits into a cohesive force, to confront he British empire. Most boldly the movie unfolds how British colonialism subjugated the Indian people to barbaric cruelty. With great mastery the cinematography captures the vast Indian landscapes and essence of livelihood of Indians under colonial rule. The movie most illustratively shows the crystallisation of anti-colonial fervour from the embryonic stage and how it fermented into an integrated movement. In a most subtle manner it illustr