Better India, Urban India
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Dear Politicians/ Prime Minister/ Chief Ministers/ City Mayors/ Urban India,
We belong to the urban India but most of us hail from rural India. Most of us who are signatories of this letter read and understand English, Hindi and for sure more than one other languages and dialects spoken within or outside the boundaries of Indian State.
Our grandparents/ parents were able to migrate to cities possibly because they could take that risk as they had some education and a strong aspiration to make it better. Urbanisation is a great equaliser. It discourages people to maintain their religious, casteist, racist, misogynist and homophobic attitudes. In an urban set-up people live more freely and aspire a better standard of living.
India achieved complete self-rule in 1947, became a republic in 1950 thanks to Dr.B.R. Ambedkar who was also a staunch advocate of urbanisation. Indian cities are possibly the world’s biggest but they are not the most liveable cities. Do we urbanites know for sure why is that so? Many amongst us go abroad and have settled in developed countries. Why are some pockets of our cities so chaotic, regressive and not liveable? Is this all very deliberate? Why so much of backwardness? Why is there overspending on unnecessary things on CCTVs and Public WIFI and reluctant spending on Housing, Education, Public Healthcare, Transport and Garbage Disposal?
We the people can customise this set of demands specific to our cities and get physical copies and make people sign them up and take them to our representatives, Political parties and so forth.
Our first and foremost aim should be on fixing the following shortcomings:
a. Salaries of the elected representatives should be just as competitive as in any sought-after professions.
b. Elected representatives should be conversant in local language and English.
c. Elected Representative should have a good track record in any of the professional fields.
d. Elected Representative should not be casteist, racist, communalist and should have knowledge of India’s constitution which believes in equal rights for all and champions in empowering the marginalised classes.
e. Elected Representative should be aware of social and economical inequalities in the society and should never resort to appeasement of any privileged, over-represented communities of India.
2. Garbage Disposal
a. All areas within the city should have public sewerage system.
b. All sewage should be treated before letting it off in the creek/ river/ sea.
c. All sewers should be cleaned mechanically.
d. Garbage collection should be done mechanically.
e. Roads should be cleaned daily with machines.
f. All construction activities in the city should check on noise and air quality in the neighbourhoods.
g. Strict health and safety standards should be adopted wherever manual labour is involved.
h. Minimum salaries should be fixed for all manual labour works.
j. Conservancy Workers should be paid twice the minimum salaries in addition to free-housing, pensions and free higher education, free healthcare for them and their families.
k. No contracting of jobs should be allowed.
a. Government and Private Players should together provide 50-50% of housing for rich, middle-class and poor.
b. All immovable properties should be sold via city development authority. i.e. no buyer should ever go to a private builder to buy a property.
c. There should be complete transparency in all transactions.
d. No contracting of jobs should be allowed in civic departments and private real estate companies.
e. Health and safety standards should be strictly followed.
f. 30% of every city ward should be green gardens with sports facilities.
a. There should be just one board/ syllabus for all schools and no religious teachings should be allowed.
b. Council Schools and Private schools should have same fees. All transactions including buying of uniforms, books, accessories be through the council.
c. Salaries should be same for teachers in Council and Private Schools.
d. Students should learn the local language in addition to English and their mother tongues.
e. Local libraries should house books in all subjects and languages.
f. Every city ward should have a library and an e-library to access knowledge across the world.
g. DATA is the king and all the demographic data for the city should be developed and be made
accessible through these libraries. (Demography refers to every possible data in generic form for
e.g. Population, Sex-ratio, Income Classes across Castes, Genders, Age-groups, People with
disabilities and special needs, Literacy, Nutrition and Health, Dependence on public and private
vehicles. In short the citizens should know their cities well.
h. No contracting of jobs should be allowed in civic and private schools.
a. Fees should be same in civic and private hospitals.
b. Only Generic Medicines should be prescribed.
c. All the rates should be made public and rates should be revised as per affordability.
d. Healthy sex-ratio should be monitored and maintained.
e. All transactions should be routed by city council.
f. No contracting of jobs should be allowed in civic and private hospitals.
a. All Major Roads should be of four lanes minimum.
b. Buildings adjacent to major roads and important buildings like Railway stations, Cineplexes, Markets and Hospitals should be given more FSI to accommodate multilevel and preferably basement parking for cycles, motor-bikes and cars.
c. Car ownership should be discouraged by providing minimum 3m wide footpaths on all important roads, cycle-lanes & stands every 100mts, bus stands every 500mts along the major roads.
d. Rickshaws and Taxi stands should be designated as per people’s request. They should be metered and penalised for any refusals.
e. All city vehicles should be tagged electronically and be allowed unrestricted entry without any tolls into the neighbouring urban areas.
f. All city buses, metros, trams should be geared with GPS and their arrival time be displayed on smartphone apps, indicators at the bus stands and rail stations.
g. Cost of running public transport should be shared by the rich classes of the country as part of corporate social responsibility. Government spending should be 50%, 30% by corporates, 20% through fares.
h. Air and sound pollution should be checked.
i. All modes of transport should be disabled-friendly and run on clean fuel.
j. Buses/ trains/ trams/ metros should ply between all the major rail stations, airports, ports, markets, residential areas, office complexes across the metropolitan area at all times during the day and night. Frequency of services should proportional to the demand and usage.
k. No contracting of jobs should be allowed in publicly and privately held transport companies.
l. Heavy Vehicles like trucks and lorries should be allowed entry between 10pm and 7am.
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