Emerging urban geographies

Never in human history have we been faced with urban situations the likes of which we will see in the Asia Pacific Rim over the next 25 years. New urban forms are emerging in cities such as Bangkok, Beijing, Mumbai, Calcutta, Dhaka, Jakarta, Karachi, Manila, Osaka, Seoul, Shanghai, Tianjin and Tokyo.

The rapid growth of Asian cities has been taking place at a time when the impacts of free trade associations, the globalization of decision- making on investment location, and the impacts of the new information- based industries are having a profound effect on city development prospects. Logic of globalization presupposes that integration of cities like these in the world system operates in a hierarchical set up in which upgrading or downgrading of their respective nation states finally determines their actual placement in the system. Such an up gradation in these cities is happening via means of – Structural Adjustment 1. SAP is causing a major shift in emphasis from the government sector as the engine of economic growth to the private sector as a dominant partner in achieving accelerate rate of economic growth.2

Intervention by capital in struggles over the built environment is usually done through the agency of state power. State intervention thus becomes an omnipresent feature in the complex process of shaping and reshaping of the built environment. Various state regulations, legitimizing control over space epitomize the abuse of monopoly power, as the latter is all too easy to accumulate in spatial terms. The exact mix of private market, monopolistic control and state intervention, however, varies from time to time in any urban development endeavor.

Effect of Structural Adjustment on Urban Form

In case of structural adjustment, the dual process of Cost of recovery and Debt servicing as generated out of the acquired loan for infrastructure and development projects, through the means of development credits via World Bank and IMF is being understood and impact of this economic restructuring is now criticized. The criticism is based on the process adopted by these banks for providing the loan, and in turn the steps that need to be adopted by the third world cities for recovery and paying its debt, eventually.

As understood, that World Bank adopts a four-phase program, while granting the loan being:

  • Privatization
  • Capital market liberalization
  • Market-based pricing
  • Free trade

Such a policy clubbed with the adjusting to the status of ‘world cities’ has resulted in various new emerging forms and geographies within the mega cities of Asia. Policies of liberalization and privatization are resulting in massive private enclaves.  Regional plan of Mumbai and the present Master plan of Delhi are suggestive of the same.3

In India, has comes the advent of Mega- City projects, SEZs, Transport and infrastructre development projects, adjusting the Indian Cities to the world city status. Mumbai is one of the five cities included in the centrally sponsored Mega City Scheme launched by the Government of India in the Eighth Five Year Plan. The agencies like World Bank, USAlD, etc. have recommended that the Floor Space Index (FSI) in the central areas of the city should be increased so that multi-storied structures can come up, providing space for business houses, commercial activities and high-income residential units. This would lead to the creation of a few high-density business and high-income residential districts, pushing out households that could not afford the costs. A large number of the industrial units in the post liberalization phase have come up in the villages and small towns around the big cities. The poor are able to find shelter in the “degenerated periphery”, get jobs in the industries located therein or commute to the central city for work 4. The entrepreneurs etc., associated with modem industries and business, however, reside within the central city and travel to the periphery through rapid transport corridors. This process of segmentation, manifested in different variants in different cities, would bring the large part of rural migrants into the peripheral zones

Illustrative figure to exhibit, the phenomenon that would be generated by new east-west linkages in the city of Mumbai- inner areas of city are getting restructured and poor are relocated to periphery

The future that haunts new world cities in the Asia Pacific Rim, are centered at being ‘non- inclusive’, where the growth is emerging as highly uneven and lopsided. Tools of planning are not fully developed, and new policies of development are being adopted without responding to one entire sect of society: the poor. Result is not just a disparity between rich and the poor, but a whole realm of ghettotization and new geographies. Though the phenomena appears similar to the processes that the first world cities, went through, with liberalization in the pre 90s and 80s, the third world cities can never replicate it. It is for the mere fact, that third world cities would always play the role of both the consumer and the producer, thereby affected by the First world cities. The phenomena would continue, if the present day polices and processes continue. It would either result in a massive rebellion by the deprived, (refer to Muoroto Conflict in Kenya, for its political implications) which would fight back for the rights of an inclusive city, or would continue with lopsided development both economically (where half of the nation still is based on agriculture economy) and socially, and would go through the same adverse effects as undergone by African cities such as Kenya, establishing a direct and a disadvantageous link between structural adjustments and urban poor.

References

Books

E.Rodolphe

Shaping Cities: Studies in History, Theory and Urban Design

David Harvey

Post Metropolis & Condition of Post Modernity

Master Plan 2021

Articles

Swapna Banerjee-Guha

Ideology of Urban Restructuring in Mumbai: Serving the International Capitalist Agenda

Rushidan Islam Rahman

Consequences of Structural Adjustment

Policies on the Poor

Barney Cohen

Urbanization in developing countries: Current trends,

Future projections, and key challenges for sustainability



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