The Delhi Urban Platform is a networked constellation of events and discussions on various themes that affect the city of Delhi. The Platform is a collaborative process involving diverse institutions and individuals who have a stake in the futures of the city. The Platform has emerged in response to the lack of a critical public discussion on Delhi’s urbanity and urban life.
Tracing its history back by almost a millennium, standing on the ruins of empires old and new, Delhi’s urban heritage is unmatched by any other city in the subcontinent. And yet, 20th century Delhi seems increasingly to have lost its urban imagination. This is a process that some trace back to the defeat of 1857, the slow marginalization of the Old City and ultimately, the trauma of Partition in 1947. Delhi often appeares as a curious paradox – a historic city, but without a consciousness of itself, without an identity.
In the last decade, however, Delhi’s denizens have become acutely aware of the crises of Delhi’s urbanism. Urban debates are now the flesh of Delhi’s life, the headlines to our morning coffee. We have witnessed public quarrels over infrastructure, pollution, speeding buses, displacement of the poor, heritage, sealing, the list is endless. An urban discourse has emerged, as witnessed in rapid interest in reporting on the city in papers and the media, and scores of online platforms on Delhi. This public debate is raw, confused, provocative, often half-baked – but it is here to stay. The upcoming Commonwealth Games has put a spotlight on all the city’s problems,and critical engagement with our present is more urgent than ever.
Delhi deserves better. It is important to create new sites of critical, independent urban discourse that can provide open platforms on all themes affecting the city. The Delhi Urban Platform is thus intended as an open forum that travels to different parts of the city in the coming months, leading up to the Commonwealth Games, and beyond the event. The platform is a collaboration between different institutions and individuals interested in Delhi’s urbanism. The platforms will involve people from all walks of life: scholars, practitioners, activists, writers, artists, ordinary citizens in a critical conversation about Delhi’s urban futures.