Ruban colonizing masters as an international pecking
Ruban India Foundation Concept Note “Cities are symbols of economic power, the arts, military prowess, politics, civic culture, intellectual ferment, creativity and so on. Moreover, urbanity itself is seen as the up-market styling of manners. And so over the past 500 years, first through the Renaissance and the enlightenment, then through the Industrial Revolution, the ascendance of the West became the very definition of progress and power.
.. The drive to catch up with the West propels Asian development.This is also reflected in the global dynamics of style, which are reflected locally as the partially digested styles of the globalized upper-classes. These are emulated by the middle-classes and then downwards until the bottom end of the affordability ladder is reached. And so, similarly, “catch-up nations” emulate the styles of their previous colonizing masters as an international pecking order comes about.
Not only is style spread this way, but ideas also. ” (1)How well has India been at playing catch-up on the URbanisation game? With a ‘stark warning’, a recent Mckinsey report (2) suggests that “if India continues with its current unplanned urbanisation, it will result in a significant deterioration in the quality of life in cities and will put even today’s economic growth rate at risk. Statistics show the current performance of Indian cities in water supply quantity, sewage treatment, healthcare and public transport is quite poor. Without getting into the problems of URbanisation in Asia and in India, as can fill up gigabytes of digital space, the thrust of this note is to emphasise how URbanisation is the wrong horse that Asia and India have hopped on to. RUbanisation is presented, in turn, as the right horse that will propel true and meaningful progress in Asia and in India. Rubanisation: An Introduction Rubanisation is an integrated land-use planning model developed by distinguished architect and thinker Tay Kheng Soon (3) – a practicing architect and adjunct professor at the National University ofSingapore’s School of Architecture.
He was formerly president of the Singapore Institute of Architects and founding member and Chairman of SPUR, the Singapore Planning and Urban Research Group. A creative, out-of-the-box ideas person, he meticulously sees through to reality via his architectural practice, Akitek Tenggara, which he founded in 1976. It’s a way forward for both urban andrural development that doesn’t see the two as distinct divides but only as degrees of differences in how they reflect the needs and aspirations of people in different areas.In another way, Rubanisation is also a redressal to the excesses of urbanization as well as a response to the depleted rural areas. It blends and carries forward ideas of PURA (Provision of Urban amenities in Rural Areas) as envisaged by Abul Kalam Azad, former President of India and Mahatma Gandhi’ vision of Gram Swaraj.
In Rubanisation, a reverse migration back to the village is encouraged and made possible through the availability of viable choice, prior to returning to repair the city devastated by unjust accumulation. Focusing on the problems of existing mega-cities is only a stop-gap solution.The argument is that in the present mode of development, the countryside has been largely neglected as cities become ‘the exclusive locus of development,’ compelling those in the rural areas to migrate to the city in search of better opportunities. This has resulted in a massive population explosion in most cities in the developing world, which manifests itself in the growing presence of slums. In the case of developed societies, small towns and villages have been losing population to the lure of the big cities for the excitement that they offer.Rubanisation postulates that unless the problem of rural poverty, which ‘still remains the main cause for mass rural-urban migration,’ is solved, and people given a real choice in deciding between rural and urban living, the problems of urbanisation remain intractable. *** As Karl Polanyi explained in 1944: “The outstanding discovery of recent historical and anthropological research is that man’s economy, as a rule, is submerged in his social relationships.
He does not act so as to safeguard his individual interest in the possession of material goods; he acts so as to safeguard his social standing, his social claims, his social assets. If URbanisation upset the applecart by submerging social relationships in an intricate web of economic expediencies, RUbanisation will help us will help us correct the anomaly and once again establish the primacy of social relationships in the affairs of mankind. *** Important Notice: Rubanisation has already been implemented in Lamplaimat in Thailand (4) and in Hue in Vietnam. We are currently working in the mentorship of Mr. Kheng Soon, towards India’s pioneering Ruban settlement in the hill districts of Uttaranchal and in parallel in 4 other states.I will be conducting a workshop on Rubanisation in India: Challenges and Opportunities on Saturday 24th of September, 2011 from 1600-1900hrs.
at K-13A, Hauz Khas Enclave, New Delhi 110016, INDIA. Participation in the event is BY INVITATION ONLY. However, we shall be reserving a few seats for valuable contributors if you could share a 300 word note on your ideas and how you can contribute.
References: 1. http://globalasia. org/pdf/issue7/v3n3_Soon. pdf 2. http://www. mckinsey.
com/mgi/reports/freepass_pdfs/india_urbanization/MGI_india_urbanization_fullreport. df 3. www. rubanisation. org / http://www.
akitektenggara. com/ 4. http://www.
mechaifoundation. org/school. asp Monday, June 21, 2010 Steps in Implementing Rubanisation 1. Seldom will there be an empty piece of land to Rubanise. Most likely the land will be alongside a road with houses, shops and little factories strung along the road either tightly packed or spaced out. 2. Land ownership or other forms of entitlement, lease, right of use etc.
have to be rationalised. A State level rationalisation of this has to take place. 3.The different tenures have to be integrated into the Ruban plan. This will result in a patchwork of situations. Priority is decided by democratic principle of majority interest; however minority rights have to also be catered for. Local referendum decides this.
An overall land entitlement and right of use law has to be clearly resolved at the local level since it cannot be resolved at the remote national level. The principal of direct democracy on land use to guarantee the right of occupation has to be decided locally but backed by a National land code that sanctions it. . This is not an abstract issue. Successful examples of mutual benefits shared between land owners and land tenants has first to be demonstrated before there can be successful legislation at the National level.
A suitable location has to be found. 5. A Ruban settlement is typically relatively self contained in a 1 km diameter settlement surrounded by vegetable and fruit farms with various crop plantations further away. Every Ruban settlement will be relatively energy autonomous using renewal energy technologies.
Water, sewerage and waste recycling are essential components of the Ruban economy. The use of local building materials increases the recycling of capital within the Ruban economy thereby stimulating the evolution of local technology and entrepreneurship. ICT and road linkages allow for development of sustainable eco-regional economies at local levels eventually evolving into larger integrated regional economies. 6. Rubanisation is a reconceptualisation of the current Western Developmental Model and destructive lifestyle of over production and consumption. 7.Without a Rubanisation concept, the existing non-urban life in Asia is characterized by marginal existence in the form of ribbon settlements that can be found everywhere in Asia along roads leading out of the urban conurbations.
These create road congestion and compound marginal living. 8. Usually then, the schools and health clinics are somewhat far way from most of the dwellings. 9. The houses and other buildings are usually made of wood and cement blocks with corrugated metal roofs.
Drainage is usually poor and stagnant pools of polluted water can be seen everywhere. 10. Waste disposal is poor.
Piles of rotting material and piles of polythene bags are everywhere. 11. Latrines are very dirty and smelly. Open defecation is common.
12. Goats, cows, dogs and chickens roam about. 13. Typically the houses are small, about 4m by 5m, with cement or earth floor. 14.
One incandescent bulb or a dangling fluorescent light is usual if electricity is available. More often it is an oil lamp. 15. Wood smoke emanating from kitchen fires is common. 16. Small kitchen gardens, herbs, medicinal plants and luck plants can be seen.
These grow in tin cans, in the gaps between footpaths and in make shift planters. 17.Further away, there are small farm plots of subsistence and cash crops.
18. Lorries, vans and motor cycles are parked in from of houses and along the roads and lanes causing congestion and exhaust gas pollution. These are often the conditions that Rubanisation has to address.
How to begin? The Rubanisation of the entire district has to be drawn up and the macroeconomics determined before Rubanisation of any local area is presented to the residents. The logic of Rubanisation has first to be communicated to the residents of the selected first Ruban settlement to be started. Success of the first one is crucial to the overall success.A Ruban Bank that acts in a low cost manner, serving as the facilitating agency, has to be set up with access to sources of low interest loans from Philanthropic Organisations, CSR sources and Investors who want to do good while sustaining their capital. Interest rates of 1% to 2% with additional rates of returns based on crop sharing arrangement with the Ruban Co-operatives are to be formed. A full presentation involving the entire community will communicate the advantages, in terms of enhanced livelihood potentials, education for the kids and health facilities to be provided.The logic of the establishment of cooperatives as basis for the local economics has to be shown.
A majority of residents must then agree and sign a public contract to form by election a local leadership council to facilitate all the processes in implementing the Rubanisation proposal. A development loan is arranged to facilitate the building of the basic infrastructure. The concept of this is incremental quality to start minimal and to improve as the economics allows in tandem with stages of progress. 1. All resident families have to be accounted for by census survey and establishment of register.Only registered families have priority for resettlement. This is to discourage freeloaders.
2. These are classified in terms of owner occupiers, status of tenure, length of occupation, demographics, occupation, estimated household expenditure, debt obligations, household goods etc. 3.
From this data, a financial plan has to be drawn up for each resident. 4. A range of accommodation has to be devised to suit each resident family based on family data and resource capability. 5.
The basic principle in the design of the Ruban settlement is spatial efficiency.This means that the dwellings have to be high-density low-rise, interconnected by small pedestrian service lanes but which can be used by bicycles, motor cycles and small service vehicles as well. 6. Children must be able to walk to school. The minimum size of the school should be for 500 kids ranging from preschool, primary and secondary. The type of school must not only teach the basics they must also develop community spirit and develop character.
7. The school should also be a health clinic and microcredit bank.Thus children, parents and teachers are at the heart of the life of the settlement which is based on the Work, Live, learn, Play and Farm principles of the new values embodied in the Rubanisation concept. Intelligence: 1. The critical factor in sustainability of a society is its continued ability to generate and sustain its institutions and cultures of problem solving. 2.
Traditions of problem solving versus traditions against problem solving have to be addressed. 3. The politics of knowledge will emerge from the dynamics of success of the Ruban Council.This is the prime institution that will have earned the prestige in instituting the culture of problem solving.
Only then will it have clout to change negative ideas for positive ones. The internet is a prime instrument to be used in this effort. 4. The fostering of direct democracy is another primary institution building challenge of the Ruban Council. Through this politics and evolved culture, the quest for greater and greater synergy in the application of the networks of knowledge will grow. 5.
This is still not enough. Knowledge born out of need satisfies current issues but not long term systemic issues. For this, research is necessary.This can only come from collective stimulation among a community of curiosity.
This is both place-based but also globalised through the internet. A network University system will link all Ruban settlements. 6.
Ruban settlements have also to form local knowledge networks also and integrate these into the Network University. Surpluses from the co-operative makes this possible. The economics of Rubanisation will be efficient in that wastage is eliminated through active local supervision and knowledgeable allocation tempered by the free market. The eco-regional market economy ensures accurate pricing and allocation.