Varanasi: Modi's Adopted City
I was just reading this article by a journalist friend. A few things struck me.
In the south east Nepal I grew up in the "progressive" farmers were those that were learning to use fertilizers. I come to America and "progressive" farmers here are those moving towards organic farming.
Varanasi seems to have what a lot of cities in the west wished it had: large, excited crowds, urban energy.
Progressive cities in the west are building bike lanes and paths for dedicated foot traffic. Public transportation is the in thing.
If those attempting to transform Varanasi were to tune into some of the global conversations taking place, very easy to do online, they might realize they are starting out on a solid ground. There are positives to preserve. And what they call urban planning is too much unthinking imitations of models that are no longer thought great in the west.
The idea that the best way to build a city is by starting out on an empty plot of land is not true. The people are the city. And Varanasi seems to have that number one ingredient in plenty.
The number one thing to do would be citywide municipal WiFi. Then build a ring road around the city and make all roads inside toll roads, to relieve congestion. Turn into a city of 24/7 public buses, buses every 15 minutes. Turn it into a city of foot traffic and bike lanes. Build satellite cities outside the ring road. In a second phase build an elevated metro to criss cross the city.
Focus on WiFi, water and sanitation. Focus on safety. Focus on 24/7 electricity. Focus on public transportation.