August 12, 2021
Spinning the wheel of controversy
To: either/view subscribers
Good morning. Let people make fun of tiktokers, but the app is growing popular by the day. With the pandemic forcing people into isolation, many individuals across the world are turning to TikTok to keep them engaged.
It has pushed the application to become the leading download in Europe, South America and US. TikTok has now overtaken all of Facebook owned apps and captured the spot of “world’s most downloaded social media app in 2020.” We can only imagine the numbers if TikTok was not barred in India!
📰 FEATURE STORY
Does Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram need redevelopment?
Mahatma Gandhi. Whenever we think of him as a person, we immediately envision simple living and ahimsa. But many people are worried that a recent government proposal will be in contradiction to his image.
The reason behind this anxiety is the government’s grand plans to redevelop Gandhi’s Sabarmati Ashram in Ahmedabad. The government has earmarked ₹1,200 crores to restore the glory of the Sabarmati Ashram and make it into a world class memorial. However, people fret that this large scale project could erase the history of Gandhi’s ideologies which are rooted in simplicity.
The Sabarmati Ashram is a crucial historical place as Gandhi had spent 13 years at this centre. He lived here between 1917 and 1930, all the while fostering our freedom movement.
The property, which now lies in the centre of the city, was initially a humble Ashram spread over 55 acres. It was the residence of Gandhi and his followers. But post independence, the maintenance of the Ashram got split into five trusts. After this division, it was decided that only Gandhi’s residence would be opened to tourists. So the larger part of the campus was not accessible to everyone.
About a year ago, the Union government thought that it was time to restore the original glory of the Ashram. So they joined hands with the Gujarat government to combine 35 acres of the land and turn it into a world class memorial. They have made arrangements to reclaim the land that is now being inhabited by the heirs of Gandhi’s supporters. They have also envisioned refurbishing 65 heritage buildings in the property to relive the activities of the original Ashram. But this has faced strong opposition from Gandhians, historians and the people who live there.
Mindful redevelopment is the goal
The primary objective for redeveloping the Ashram is to convert the place into a “world-class” memorial. If the campus is revamped to allow more tourists, it would enhance the past glory of Gandhi’s residence. It would also attract foreign tourists to the city.
However, the project is very mindful to not cause historical damage. So the place will be modified to look bigger and better but the environs will remain intact. The aesthetic value will be increased without damaging the existing structures. In simple words, the plan is to recreate the 1930 vibes of the Ashram but in a more spacious and tourist-friendly way.
The preservation trust officials believe that the project will not disturb the sanctity of the place. In fact, it will bring together the divided lands of the Ashram and open up more visitor spaces. The redeveloped Ashram will guarantee the inner peace of the visitors as all the clutter and chaos will be removed.
The trust also holds that the Ashram in its current state does not offer much to the tourists. But once it is redeveloped, the place will become more interactive and dynamic. A new museum, special visitor’s centre and shops are being planned. There will also be Khadi workshops for those who wish to experience the pre-independence struggles. The amphitheatre and parking lot will be remodeled to house more visitors.
The government is confident that all this can be done smoothly without hurting the inhabitants. Currently, they are in discussions with those who live in the Ashram. A monetary compensation of ₹60 lakhs is being offered to each of the families. So far, 19 families have agreed to move out of the Ashram. The government also promises to provide alternate rehabilitation for the people who do not want to vacate. They say a huge chunk of the ₹1,200 crore would be spent on this process of compensation and resettlement.
No need for redevelopment
The government’s initiative to create a world class memorial has raised the eyebrows of many. They are worried that the Ashram is being commercialized unnecessarily. After all, a place that reminds us of simple living does not need a hefty ₹1,200 crore redevelopment. Such an expensive project could demean the very purpose of a humble Ashram.
People object to the idea that the Ashram needs any redevelopment. Every year, lakhs of visitors come to the campus out of pure humility and admiration for simplicity. The Ashram is more like a pilgrimage for them. But this project to refurbish the amphitheater and open shops has the potential to turn the place into a “Gandhi theme park”. What would then become of the historical value and legacy of the place?
It is also feared that if everything goes as planned, Gandhi’s residence will be undermined. The new structural plan with tall buildings coming up could ruin the importance of the residence. It will lose its central value and be pushed aside by the daunting edifices. With this in mind, people question if the project will fulfil its purpose as a tribute to Gandhi.
Politically, the project is seen as a way of wiping out the heritage of Gandhi institutions. They worry that the government would take over all Gandhi archives and make profits using his name. Using marketing gimmicks like “world class” fuels more fury among the people.
🕵️ BEYOND ECHO CHAMBERS
For the Right:
Why India can’t figure out what a third wave of Covid will look like
For the Left:
How the removal of Article 370 has set the stage for a long-standing transformation of Ladakh
🏴 STATE OF THE STATES
Reading campaign (Delhi) – Time and again experts have insisted that education is the key to change. This is true especially in the case of children in child care institutions who have had a bad childhood. Keeping this in mind, the Delhi Commission for the Protection of Child Rights (DCPCR) conducted a survey. It revealed that only 52% of the children were able to read Hindi and only 55% were able to identify two-digit numbers. Therefore, DCPCR has initiated a ‘Reading Campaign’ to help these children. The goal is to ensure that each child is able to read and comprehend Hindi fluently and is able to perform basic arithmetic operations by November 2021. We hope this plan achieves its goals and helps the children lead a better life.
No bouquets (Karnataka) – Honouring guests with bouquets and shawls in government and private events is largely followed and considered a sign of respect. But several people believe that it has become more of a mandatory formality and is not needed. Similarly, calling this protocol an unnecessary expenditure, Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai has banned the practice of giving garlands and memorabilia at government events. All government organisations and government-run institutions have been asked to comply with the order. Is it an unnecessary expenditure or a necessary act of respect – what do you think?
Indoor stadiums (Odisha) – The state government’s recent action following the success in the Tokyo Olympics shows the extent of the Games’ impact on Indian society. The government has promised to set up 89 multi-purpose stadiums in the state. The stadium will provide facilities to play sports like badminton, table tennis etc. Additionally, it could be used as a utility centre for sports, a shelter for people during disasters and as a field hospital when needed. This project is aimed at a cost of ₹693.35 crores. People from all walks of life have appreciated this initiative. Resonating with our thoughts, business tycoon Anand Mahindra suggested that other states should emulate Odisha’s new infrastructure project.
Combating climate change (Goa) – Recently, the UN panel on climate change (IPCC) warned about rising global temperatures. It has left the world unsettled and everyone is trying to come up with new measures. What if we say Goa is a step ahead? Yes, even before IPCC, Goa’s report on climate change (SAPCC) had warned that in less than 15 years the state’s temperature will rise by over 2 degrees Celsius. Based on this, they have come up with mitigation measures to save the state. The measures include afforestation and promotion of ecotourism. It has submitted its report to the Union environment ministry and is currently awaiting its approval. Once approved, a special cell will be set up exclusively to combat the issue. With climate change being called the ‘Code Red’ for humanity, we wish even other states’ prioritise and prepare for the battle against it.
Reviving tradition online (Nagaland) – We have entered into a digital world and are slowly evolving. Traditions that go out of style need updates to stand a chance in this constantly changing world. Being mindful of this fact, a Nagaland based visual production house conducted its first virtual folktale storytelling competition. This gave new birth to the age-old art of story-telling. Several categories in this competition majorly explored the untold Naga folktales. People from all generations took part in this competition. Later, the video was posted on the production house’s YouTube channel which has over 98.7K subscribers. So yes, reviving tradition requires such contemporary touches to shine.
🔢 KEY NUMBER
0.6-degree Celsius – Temperature rise over the past century in India, which has resulted in a three-fold increase in floods and extreme rainfall in the country, says studies. In such a scenario, the UN IPCC report on climate change is a warning sign that needs our immediate attention.