Traditional Wisdom
A Contemporary Inventory | Kiran Kalamdani
LA 47
We now live in a fast-paced, technologically driven society. Our rate of development is such that our relationship with nature and the resources it provides and with our heritage has become an exploitative one. A look at the ancient settlements reveal a more peaceful pattern wherein a careful harmony was created between resources and communities such as in the case of Baolis which also acted as public spaces.
Baolis of Bundi: The Ancient Stepwellls | AHD, INTACH
Published by INTACH, New Delhi, 2015

While we as a nation move towards an organized society of the 21st Century, having seen the worst of the Industrial Revolution and riding the crest of a wave of the Communications Revolution, our past that was once glorious in parts and moments (also despicable and shameful in others) needs to be looked at with understanding, feeling, humility and pragmatism. Greener ways of living in small settlements (as against the 'big city terrible place') need to be understood and appreciated. Our fastgrowing populations demand more and new things needs to be balanced with responsibilities that relate to our recent/ distant past.

It could be that these slower civilizations of the past, churned out settlements that were greener, more graceful and at peace with the people, their politics and the surrounding environment. Maybe all was not well with them (read feudalism, epidemics, illiteracy, ills of a caste system and lower life expectancy) as some would like to romanticise. But the fact remains like a clear writing on the wall, or rather ground, that till the Independence of India one sees a continuous patronage of such structures that speak of a concern to create beautiful testimonies to the need for public places around water. Lessons of compact settlements and close-knit communities that are now giving way to gated communities and islands of opulence, rendering our towns and cities non-inclusive, inequitable and un-liveable for the majority, need to be learnt once again. The public realm as a result is getting eroded, rendering public spaces as unused, neglected or abused dumps of garbage or obsolescence, socially exclusive.

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