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2022 | Book

Practising Cultural Geographies

Essays in Honour of Rana P. B. Singh

Editors: Dr. Ravi S. Singh, Dr. Bharat Dahiya, Dr. Arun K. Singh, Padma C. Poudel

Publisher: Springer Nature Singapore

Book Series : Advances in 21st Century Human Settlements


About this book

This festschrift honours Prof. Rana P.B. Singh who has dedicated his life to teaching and conducting research on cultural geography with a ‘dweller Indian perspective’. The book focuses on the cultural geographies of India, and to an extent that of South Asia. It is a rich collection of 23 essays on the themes apprised by him, covering landscapes, religion, heritage, pilgrimage and tourism, and human settlements.

Table of Contents



Introduction: Essays in Honour of Rana P. B. Singh
Culture is central to human beings to the extent that the history of their evolution is incomplete without the consideration of cultural attainments across time and space. However, in the domain of geography as a discipline, its conceptualisation and place do not appear clear. The sub-discipline of cultural geography having its roots in late nineteenth century both in the German and the French traditions grew and got recognition through the works undertaken by the American geographers, particularly the tradition established by Carl Sauer and his students. No matter whether culture and cultural issues were at margins or centre stage, all through the journey they remained contested. Today, it is a well-recognised discipline and rich through scholarly contributions from different perspectives benefitted by the development taken place in the allied disciplines. Indian geography presents a good example wherein cultural geography could not acquire substantive status despite having tremendous scope given the cultural richness of this land. It remains a marginal sub-discipline in Indian geography even in the twenty-first century; of course, the works of some practising Indian geographers have acclaimed international repute, but their number is miniscule. The present chapter is an attempt in short to trace cultural geography’s journey vis-à-vis the Indian scenario and to introduce the contents of the volume.
Ravi S. Singh, Bharat Dahiya, Arun K. Singh, Padma C. Poudel
Rana Pratap Bahadur Singh, ‘Rana-Ji’: Academic Contributions, Professional Career and Recognition
This essay presents an account of Professor Rana P. B. Singh’s academic contributions, professional growth and career and academic recognition. He is well-known as a leading academic figure in Indian geography. He has enriched the discipline of geography through his immense contributions, especially on cultural geography, from the perspective of an Indian academic. It will be fitting to say that Rana Singh brought to cultural geography what David Sopher (2009, first in 1973) called an Indian ‘dweller’s perception’. He is one of the very few geographers of India who have contributed to a multitude of cultural and socio-economic aspects, ranging from villages to cities, visual to cosmology and from theoretical construct to grassroot realities. Known to his colleagues, friends, followers and admirers as ‘Rana-ji’, he has contributed not only to his parent discipline of Geography but also to the latter’s sister disciplines, such as heritage studies, cultural landscape studies and planning, ecotourism, pilgrimage studies, cultural astronomy and architectural symbolism, environmental ethics, humanism, rural land use and settlements through his numerous publications in India and abroad. Conceiving his resident holy-heritage city of Banaras/Varanasi as ‘complex whole’ and ‘axis mundi’ within the purview of archetypal symbolism, during the last four decades he studied and projected it in different contexts.
Ravi S. Singh, Bharat Dahiya
Making of a Dweller Indian Cultural Geographer: In Conversation with Professor Rana P. B. Singh
Cities in the Global South draw people from their hinterland due to various reasons. Kashi, Varanasi, or Banaras—a few names by which this city is known and addressed, has drawn hundreds and thousands of people, many of whom stayed back and adopted it as ‘their’ place. Everyone has her/his own story and experiences to share and narrate. Rana P. B. Singh, in whose felicitation this volume is published, too came as a postgraduate student (1969–70) herein, Banaras Hindu University, and received his higher education. His academic zeal took him to different places in India and overseas, but he returned to this city and adopted it. Searched and researched, sometimes alone, some other times with collaborators and friends, his ‘co-pilgrims’. He has made this city his home since the late sixties but for some time when he was abroad in different capacities. And, thus spent almost half a century understanding unfolding meanings of different layers of the city as it is said metaphorically that this city is older than history and maintained the path of succession-sustenance-and-sustainability—as to how Rana has narrated in his writings. His committed engagement continues till today when has entered his seventies. This chapter is a little unconventional in the sense that it is based on the narrative put forth by himself describing his journey from the place of his birth, a typical Middle Ganga Valley village, his struggles—psycho-emotional to professional, professional attainments and recognitions, and finally, the future he foresees of his adopted home city and the tradition of Varanasi (Banaras) Studies that he has developed through dedicated work and untiring zeal to serve the cause of it at all forums—local, regional, national and international.
Abhisht Adityam, Rana P. B. Singh


Theoretical Perspectives on Landscape Perception
This chapter develops a theoretical framework for conceptualising natural landscapes into categories and domains that shows their mappable properties and the spatial relations between them. The process of perceiving and experiencing landscapes is widely understood in the extant literature; however, the mappability of perceived landscapes is neither thoroughly investigated nor theorised from a multi-disciplinary perspective. This chapter argues for integrating the process of sensing, perceiving and cognising the sum total of biophysical characteristics of geographic space as a unified construct, which is referred here as landscape. Tourists’ perception is used as a surrogate to represent and reflect the process of constructing landscape. It is acknowledged that landscapes are constructed through perception and cognition, notwithstanding the importance of geographic space as a milieu for guiding and stimulating the interest of observers to participate, interact and engage with its constituent components should also be recognised to help understand human behaviour in natural areas.
Prem Chhetri, Anjali Chhetri
Sacredscapes vis-à-vis Faithscapes: Cultural Landscapes of Ayodhya, a Holy-Heritage City of India
The city of Ayodhya represents an example of holy-heritage city of India, recording variety of cultural landscapes and multi-cultural religious sites in the form of sacred landscapes. The sacredscapes are known as tirtha in classical Hindu literature, and in general is translated as a sacred or a holy place. For the sacredscape history matters, it concerned for the sacred (spiritual) ecology; thus, the messages conveyed by sacredscapes are obscure and functions in a variety of festive and religious functions. Ayodhya possesses a good mass of multi-cultural sacredscapes associated with the devotees consisting of Hindus, Jains, Sikhs, Buddhists, and even Muslims, and Christians, including even recent addition of Korean culture. These are recorded and described in ethnological context, while taking various niches and frames developed and attested by Professor Rana P. B. Singh in his studies of holy-heritage cities of north India.
Sarvesh Kumar
Char Landscape of the Brahmaputra Riverine Tract, Assam: Elements of Evolution and Cultural Ecology
The sand bars, locally known as chars and chaporis, constitute integral parts of the immediate floodplain of the Brahmaputra River in Assam. Most of the chars are, however, temporary in their size and spacing. Interestingly, some of them are spacious enough and relatively permanent, favouring the growth of certain riparian vegetation and seasonal cultivation in places. These areas continued to remain uninhabited till the first decade of the twentieth century when peasants from East Bengal started migrating to Assam in search of cultivable land. Subsequently, some Nepali people also came to occupy parts of the riverine areas that are rich in grass resources for the purpose of grazing their domesticated animals. Thus, the process of transformation of the Brahmaputra riverine areas started to evolve landscapes that reflect some peculiar kind of interaction between nature and human culture. This paper attempts to deal with the basic characteristics of these emerging landscapes in the char areas of the Brahmaputra River from cultural ecological perspectives. The study is primarily based on the field works done in the concerned areas and secondary data collected from different government and other sources. This study explores some of the less known issues pertaining to human–environment relationship prevailing in the marginal areas of the Brahmaputra riverine tract within Assam.
Abani Kumar Bhagabati, Nityananda Deka
Re-connecting Communities with Public Spaces: A Proposal for Rejuvenation of Sacred Kunds in the Historic City of Varanasi
Public spaces are one of the most defining elements of a vibrant community and matured urban landscapes. Cities of the past and present have laid great emphasis on the provision of public spaces and defined the idea of livability through them. The city of Varanasi, which exhibits the continuity of human settlements and culture since 1000 BCE, is one of the unique destinations that show exemplary natural, architectural, artistic and religious expressions of traditional Indian culture blended with splendid public spaces and people. But uncontrolled urbanisation, coupled with weak governance and lack of awareness, has resulted in utter neglect and degradation of urban heritage and its associated spaces. This article intends to analyse the culture of public spaces in Varanasi, their use and their present state of decay through an in-depth case study investigation. This research contributes to the design development of a comprehensive vision for the restoration of urban heritage and conservation of immensely valuable public spaces that shape vibrant community life representing the culture and diversity of this great city and its people.
Sarbeswar Praharaj


The Priesthood of the Temple of Viṭhobā in Pandharpur, Maharashtra
After outlining some general features of Hindu sacred places and their priesthoods, the present paper focus on the regional town of Pandharpur in Maharashtra, its Viṭhobā temple and priesthood. After a brief historical introduction to the town and its deity, and its special relation with the bhakti Vārakārī Sampradāya, a description of the scheme of daily temple rituals and darśana is given, followed by presentations of the two priesthoods of the Viṭhobā temple, the Baḍavas and Sevādhārīs, their organisation and income which seems to have been increasingly limited to the performance of the temple rituals. This leads naturally to the final chapter which gives an overview of the many conflicts and litigations around the management of the temple which have resulted in a long list of litigations in court both among the different priesthoods and among the priesthood and the government. After independence and the introduction of the modern state, the position of the local priesthood has been increasingly undermined by modern legislation which have, finally, led to the priesthood losing their inherited rights and privileges, as well as the management of the temple.
Erik Reenberg Sand
Geographical Spread of Hindu Religion and Culture into the West
This chapter explores the spread of Hinduism into the United Kingdom (UK) using Nattier’s Import–Export-Baggage model. Its uses case studies of the School of Economic Science, which was Imported from India by a British spiritual leader, the Brahma Kumaris and Bhakti Marga as Export traditions brought to the UK by spiritual leaders from India and Mauritius respectively, and the Swaminarayan Movement as a Baggage tradition that entered the UK with the Gujarati ‘PIO’ immigrants, who make up 70% of its Hindu community. It supplements the case studies discussed in (Haigh, The changing world religion map. Springer, New York, 2015)—Adidam (Import), Vedanta Societies, Self-Realisation Fellowship, ISKCON, Transcendental Meditation Movement (all Export) and the Hindu Temple Society of Southern California (Baggage). The pros and cons of each movement are discussed in the context of the emergence of a new ‘Ekatvam’ Global Hinduism, often Guru-focused, that seeks understanding and consilience with the dominant local faith traditions and that is active in creating Hindu converts using Self-development education, yoga, meditation and especially Temple culture as its recruitment methods. The impact of such Global Ekatvam Hinduism in India is discussed, especially its attempt to export its middle-class vision of modern Hinduism and congregationally oriented Temple culture back into India, as well as its uncomfortable relationship with the narrow sectarian agendas of Indian Hindutva. Finally, it joins with Professor Rana P. B. (Singh, Indo-Kyosei global ordering: Gandhi’s vision, harmonious coexistence and ecospirituality. Meitoku Publishing for Toyo University, Research Center for Kyosei Philosophy (Supplement to the Annual Report of Kyosei Studies), Tokyo) in welcoming the progressive development of an Ekatvam ethic of “coexistence and equity rooted” in the concept of “Vasudhaiva Kutumbakam” in Global Hinduism.
Martin J. Haigh
Geographical Patterns of Indigenous Religious Belief Systems in Northeast India: A Case Study
Northeast India is a mosaic of ethnicities. Though internally quite distinguishable, they have been projected as quite aggregated by the scholars of the colonial era. Unfortunately, the mainstream scholarship still carries on with that outdated legacy at different levels and degrees. Naturally, the popular perception is confined to that image. The movement started in the late 1960s, however, has given an opportunity to celebrate and assert beyond ‘foundationalism’, and hence, looking at the ‘reality’ in multiple open ways—free from theoretical lenses. It is often said about tribal communities that the space they occupy and culture they live with are intrinsically connected with nature. Nature is omnipresent in their ‘sacred’ world as much as ‘profane’ lifeways, to use Mircea Eliade terminology. Though very high level and complex philosophical theorization in their traditional indigenous faith systems is not found, nature is highly eulogised and lived with. Main focus of the present attempt is to understand the geography of indigenous religious belief systems in the Northeast India borderland and emerging issues of their revival together with the consequences of such movements. The existing literature amply suggests that many of the tribal communities have been treated as a non-descript entity compared to their counterparts inhabiting the same cultural region. Naturally, in the wake of varied forms of cultural invasions including conversion (to Christianity, for example), the agenda of carving out a niche for themselves assumes significance. And, the revival of indigenous faith for rebuilding and expressing one’s own identity becomes an important issue. Apparently, it comes to the fore that this process, though not limited yet focused on cultural traditions, religious practices and festive celebrations, is also an attempt to an expression of ‘I want to break free’ syndrome. The present exercise would also try to disentangle sources and the means, modes and motifs used in the entire process. The study employs descriptive analysis using field experience and published secondary sources.
Ravi S. Singh


Kautilya’s Political Geography—Concepts and Ideas: An Example of Ancient Indian Geographical Thinking
India is a rich treasure of ancient literature indicating a strong intellectual tradition and heritage in mathematics, astronomy, science in different historical periods which is recognized worldwide. Each period in ancient Indian history is known for its literary and mathematical traditions. These literary treasures are epistemologically comparable to the classic Greco-Roman and mediaeval Arab contributions. Such intellectual accomplishments provided a framework of concepts, models, and paradigms of rich scholarly methods. Some of the ideas and concepts still hold relevance in the contemporary context. Many of the ancient Indian literatures and treatises are also rich in terms of geographical concepts and ideas which have remained in obscurity and not been explored enough. Generally, they do not find a place in the history of global geographical thought. The present chapter, falls in the domain of the ancient heritage of political geography as developed in during fourth century BCE in India, is an attempt to unfold the comparative politico-geographical concepts and ideas developed by Kautilya (c. 321–296 BCE), in his famous treatise: Arthashastra (c. 321–300 BCE, one of the great ancient Indian scholars who was also an accomplished administrator, diplomat, and statesman. The primary source used in this study is English version of Kautilya’s Arthashastra, (trans. R. Shamasastry), published by the Government Press of Bangalore (1915). It has total 15 volumes, and each one of them is divided into several chapters containing altogether 429 slokas.
Sudeepta Adhikari
Genealogy and Its Role in Matrimony: A Study of Panji System of Mithila Region, Bihar (India)
Matrimony in Mithila is entirely dependent on the genealogy maintained by the panji system. This article intends to highlight how centuries’ old regional genealogical record keeping techniques can be a source of information to explore the patterns of migration and marriage decisions. It also details how these patterns help to show interdependence of the cultural practices in shaping the social space. First, there has been an attempt to link genealogy to space in order to present an overview of their interdependence. Second, it discusses the evolution and history of the panji system describing information on the panjikars. Important genealogical terms have been explained to provide insights into the structure and functions of the panji system. Gotra exogamy and caste endogamy are major determinants of matrimonial decisions in many parts of India including the Mithila region. Third, a comparison of panji with other genealogical institutions like that of the Tallensi lineage and kulji system is described. Finally, the annual matrimonial gathering, i.e., Saurath sabhagachi has been discussed to explain the role of the panji system in matrimonial decision making. This paper offers a theoretical view on genealogy to its readers and intends to present an insight into how genealogical record keeping, marriage, and space are interrelated and an inseparable cultural phenomenon in the Mithila region of Bihar in India.
Ravi S. Singh, Sugandh
The Two Faces of Bodhgayā
Sacredness goes beyond scriptural texts and archaeological remains per se. Its significance mainly lies in the active interaction between humans and religious architecture within its dynamic ritual settings. In addition, this mutual relationship is critical for understanding the sacredness, particularly in Bodhgayā’s context and generally for the ‘living’ sacred architecture in India to best sustain the values of the place in its context while also managing change to the surrounding landscape. The Mahābodhi Temple complex in Bodhgayā (a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2002) and its immediate sacred landscape is a ‘living’ heritage, which constitutes differential densities of human involvement, attachment and experience. This entire sacred landscape has been actively produced and reinterpreted socially, culturally and politically during the past century. Thus, it is implausible that everyone would equally share and experience it in a standardised way based on authoritative heritage regulations, which are often quite distant from the local reality.
Nikhil Joshi
Local Knowledge Education on School Students and Vernacular Landscape Identity Promoting: A Case of Dongshan Town, Suzhou, China
New cultural geography is concerned with the meaning of cultural landscapes. People living in different regions have their own unique understandings of vernacular landscape, which is a part of local knowledge. Youth may play a much important role in cultural protection of vernacular landscapes if they identify the meaning of vernacular landscapes. Based on constructivism theory and Tuan’s concept of topophilia, our hypothesis is that the environmental perception of living experience impacts the school students’ identity of the vernacular landscape much more than the local knowledge education. This study took Dongshan Town as the research area to prove our hypothesis. Dongshan Town is a famous old town in South China. The analysis results of the questionnaires are as follows. Firstly, local life experience is the constructivist base for the vernacular landscape identity of school students in Dongshan Town. Secondly, quantitative analysis shows a different result from qualitative analysis. Living experience impacts less in the quantitative result than in the qualitative result. So, the conclusion of this study is that the qualitative method is better to prove the hypothesis than the quantitative method. Although it supports Yi-Fu Tuan’s viewpoint of topophilia again, we cannot say it is absolutely right in any instance.
Juncheng Dai, Shangyi Zhou, Ruihong Zhang, Shunying Tang
The Misings of Assam in the Midst of Tradition and Modernity: A Comparative Study of Selected Rural and Urban Areas
The Misings, belonging to Tibeto-Burman ethnic group, which constitute the second largest scheduled tribe (Plains) group with a population of around 0.7 million in the state of Assam, India (as per 2011 Census), have been playing a significant role in the culture and economy of the greater Assamese society in general and tribal society in particular. Being mainly riverine inhabitant, the Misings of Assam are largely concentrated in the upper Brahmaputra valley area with highest concentration in the districts of Dhemaji and Lakhimpur (together constitute 60% of the state’s total Mising population). Mostly settled in the rural areas (1.8% in urban areas), as high as 86% of the Mising main workers are engaged as cultivators, which is the highest among all the tribes of Assam. The majority of the Mising people are still living in the flood affected and isolated areas with age-old traditions, and modern civilization has practically left them almost untouched in many aspects. In fact, this colourful ethnic group living amidst the fellow non-tribal Assamese people for many centuries has been able to maintain its traditional socio-cultural traits un-impaired in spite of the changes that have taken place in the socio-politico-religious life of Assam. However, a very small section of the Misings is undergoing the process of modernization and acculturation in recent time through urbanisation, religious transformation, education and inter-mixing, and the impact of these factors has resulted in erosion of their traditional life and folk culture. With this background, an attempt is made in this paper to understand the changing pattern of socio-economic character and traditional practices among the Mising tribe and, emerging socio-economic well-being in Assam in general and the selected rural and urban areas in particular based on secondary data for the period 1971–2011 and primary data recently collected from the field.
Pahari Doley, Bimal Kumar Kar

Pilgrimage and Tourism

Lumbini, Nepal: The Birthplace of Buddha and the Powerful Place of Pilgrimage in the World
Pilgrimage places link human to the invisible forces and transform matter into spirit, human into divine in a space and time continuum. Special sacred places of most of the religions (Christianity, Islam, Hinduism and Buddhism) are powerful places in pulling the faith into spiritual movement. Such powerful places are the centre of convergence from diverse religio-societal base. All around the world, in different religion, various forms of powerful places such as Jerusalem, Rome, Mecca, Pashupatinath, Mansarovar, Kailash, Kashi and Lumbini are in existence. Connection of places with the important figures and events related to religion has acted as an amplifier to increase the power and the sentimental attachment of the pilgrims to those places. Being the birthplace and also Buddhas’ advice to his disciples to visit four places—of his birth, attainment of enlightenment, his first sermon and his Parinirvana, Lumbini, Nepal has attained power of the place and the status of grand pilgrimage, for Buddhist population of the world. Similarly, other places connected with Buddha’s life have been the focal points of visit to them and others who are peace lovers. The entire circuit of Buddhist pilgrimage sites needs to be developed accordingly. Both Nepal and India should develop policy and plan to use this type of touristic resources collectively and sustainably. This article attempts to discuss how Lumbini is a powerful pilgrimage place in the world.
Padma C. Poudel
Pañcakrośī Yātrā of Varanasi: Symbolic Manifestation of the Spatial to the Spiritual
This chapter explains and explores the phenomenon and experience of sacred environments. The perception of a believer, who relates to the traditional philosophy, sees the built structures, absorbs and understands the symbolism that they represent and perceive the intangible through them. The Pañcakrośī Yātrā is a circumambulation around Kāśī kshetra which, according to ancient text, is based on a Mandala that alludes to the universe. Pilgrims perform this ritual, which is formed of a series of smaller rituals. The sheer act of the ritual overtakes the basic facts like the simplicity of the sacred shrines and arduous journey transporting him to a higher realm. An analysis on the basic activity pattern helps understand the whole cycle of the Yātrā and the cycle of the spatial environment transform to symbolic and eventually to a spiritual realm. With a basic background of the Hindu philosophy, this paper explores the linguistic aspect of finding meaning in sacred territories from macro to micro scale. The traditional architecture imbibes and reflects some of the philosophical concepts through their form, juxtaposition, embellishments, but their comprehension and perception are due to the archetype ‘deep structures’ that make a spatial realm spiritual through symbolism.
Vandana Sehgal
Cultural Tourism-Based Regional Development in Rajasthan, India
Tourism at present is considered the largest and fastest growing industry. It is increasingly acquiring organized form and seen as multi-dimensional; hence, viewed as possessing huge potential in terms of future development. The available literature also highlights its role in the promotion of faster, sustainable and inclusive regional development focusing on poor sections and local areas. Though there is a rich typology of tourism today, cultural tourism is considered important across the world as it contributes to the gross tourism income substantially. The cultural potential of a region is therefore crucial in this regard which meaningfully connects the past with the present in a particular geographical setting containing both natural and cultural elements. The present chapter makes an attempt to analyse the status and potential of cultural tourism in the context of regional development of Rajasthan. This western state of India is gifted with a rich and long history and a vast pool of diverse cultural heritage as well as natural resources which could be used to develop the region by promoting it as a globally competitive tourist destination. The Rajasthani culture has two levels—folk and royal—manifested in different forms. The former offers traditional textiles, handicraft, paintings, music, dance, cuisines, and the latter has forts, magnificent palaces, beautiful gardens, etc. to the tourists.
R. B. Singh, Ajay Kumar
Baul-Sufi Interface and Cultural Tourism: A Study in Northern Rarh of West Bengal, India
Culturally, the Rarh region of West Bengal is perceived as the land of Sahajiya syncretistic tradition. Bauls, the wandering mendicants, originally emerged from Buddhist Sahajiya background, have been converted as Sahajiya Vaishnavas, while Sufism came with the spread of Islam since the thirteenth century AD through the Fakirs and Darbeses with similar views as expressed in earlier Sahajiya philosophies. The Dargas of Pirs with their sacred tombs and the Akhras of Bauls for their esoteric songs particularly in the northern part of Rarh are considered as valuable tourism resources. Tourism is the fastest-growing industry of today, and cultural or heritage tourism is a very important segment of it. The Baul-Sufi interface, thus, becomes a subject matter in the tourism geography of Rarh Bengal. This paper is an attempt to evaluate the Sahajiya-Sufi sacredscape of northern Rarh with reference to its utilization as a tourism resource.
Premangshu Chakrabarty, Tushar Mandal

Human Settlements

Cultural Images of Kolkata: A Contemporary Perspective
Urban culture primarily defines the city itself, which is manifested by its institutional set up, the lifestyle and cultural forms continuously transforming within a city system. Cities usually witness steady progress by incorporating broad cultural attributes and identities. Urban entities having distinct physical existence by respective forms and functions produce certain images of their own in the mental map, and in the way of life of individuals and communities living in a landscape system where relative locations play significant roles over absolute locations. Kolkata being one of the major metropolitan cities of the world has been taken to cite various urban locations having unique expressions and identities of their own. Moreover, this post-colonial city is often cited as a foundational touchstone of the Bengali identity. The blending of eastern and western cultural influences over the centuries has stimulated the creation of cultural diversification in this metropolitan city. However, landscape is a key concept in geography, and the cultural entities prevailing within a landscape can be designated as cultural landscape. The article brings out the idea that how cultural imprints provide spatial identification to places in Kolkata based on perception of prominent personalities. It further provides insights about Kolkata based on the images of cultural heritage and perception of identities of locations at micro-level, pseudo-locations and shift of the imageries. It also describes how cultural legacy is under threat.
L. N. Satpati
Situating Animals in the Aesthetics of a Global City: Stray Cattle and Dairy Farmers in Delhi, India
Urban landscapes in India reflect contemporary economic imperatives through adopting the aesthetics of a ‘global city’ that can accommodate capital investment. Approaches to the aesthetics of urbanization can be further extended by focusing on how animals are accommodated into or displaced from cities seeking to become properly global. Using the case study of India’s capital city, Delhi, and its stray cattle removal program, this chapter seeks to understand how the class-based aesthetics of contemporary urbanization shape the ability of animals to inhabit urban spaces, and concomitantly, the ability of social groups that depend on animal-based livelihoods to belong to the city. Mainly, this chapter argues that the stray cattle removal program has led to confinement being the only acceptable mode of being animal in Delhi. Alongside, people who depend on dairy farming for a living are pushed to the margins of the city. A ‘global’ urban esthetic thus associates animal-based livelihoods with ‘dirt’ and ‘uncleanliness.’ However, given that milk produced by small scale, informal dairy farms continues to be valued by urban consumers, dairy farmers cannot be completely removed from the city and exist at the margins of urbanization marking the urban–rural boundary. While the presence of dairy farmers and stray cattle in India’s cities could point to an alternative way of being urban, it instead becomes an integral part of the process through which the aesthetics of urban landscapes entrench class differences and displace non-human urban subjects.
Pratyusha Basu
Urban Sanitation in Indian Cities: Reflections from Varanasi
Urban sanitation for a common man is considered as the collection, treatment and disposal of solid and liquid waste including human excreta. However, it is a much complex phenomena and takes into account all about the management of garbage services, systems, technology and attitudes in an urban environment. It affects everyone in the society irrespective of their socio-economic status. Hence, it is the time to understand urban sanitation not merely as a platitude but as a business, opportunity and civic and administrative necessity. Adequate sanitation is a basic human right, a contributory factor to the poverty cycle adversely affecting overall productive forces, and much more than an inconvenience that costs lives, dignity and productivity. In pre-independent India, Mahatma Gandhi was a great advocate of sanitation. After Independence, water supply and sanitation became the national agenda since the first five-year plan. However, sanitation, particularly in urban India, has remained the poor cousin to urban water supply both on paper and practice. With increasing levels of urbanization, rapid spatial expansion of cities, and increased amount of domestic water supply the quantity of grey/wastewater has been increasing with the passage of time. NIUA (National Institute of Urban Affairs (2005) Status of water supply, sanitation and solid waste management in urban areas. Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India, New Delhi) indicates that only 59% of the wastewater generated is collected by the sewerage system, and only 21% is treated before disposal. With this backdrop, the paper intends to highlight the state of urban sanitation at macro level and highlights the existing grassroot level realities of availability of toilets and bathrooms within and outside houses and the existing sewerage system at micro level taking Varanasi as a case study. The work is based on primary data collected from twelve sample municipal wards through a set of questionnaires, and supported by other techniques like informal discussion FGD, PRA and observation technique. Secondary sources of data include documents of ULBs, relevant government reports/ documents and study reports/research articles.
Arun K. Singh
Perspective on Agricultural Land Use Trajectory in the Peri-Urban Interface of a Developing Economy: A Case of Aligarh City
Modern world is increasingly urbanized as over half of its population lives in urban areas although there is still substantial variability in the levels of urbanization across countries. According to the 2011 Census, urbanization in India has increased faster than expected: for the first time since Indian Independence, the absolute increase in urban population was higher than that in the rural population. This process has a bearing on land transformation especially in peri-urban interface (PUI). The fast pace of residential and commercial development is replacing agriculture and other undeveloped land around urban centers. The recent upsurge in urban expansion on its peripheral rural land has made peri-urban interface a hot spot especially among developing countries like India. The present paper attempts to analyze the perspectives of agriculture land use trajectories for 30 years (1980 to 2010) due to expansions in the PUI of Aligarh city and to show how distance from the urban center plays an important role in the transformation of agricultural land use to urban one. The city population was 320,861 in 1981, but it increased to more than double (872,575) in the 2011 census. The study is largely based on qualitative and quantitative design sample: 757 household respondents were proportionately sampled from 44 selected villages from three zones, namely immediate PUI (up to 5 km), intermediate PUI (5–10 km), and distant PUI (10 km and above) which were divided on the basis of distance from the city boundary. The data was subjected to Pearson's Chi-square and Cramer’s V analyses embedded in the SPSS V.17. The results suggest that there is a significant relationship between the distances from the city boundary and the consequential influences on the households to sale their agricultural land to other uses because of urban forces which include city expansion, pressure put by property dealers on land owners to sell their land, establishment of industrial units, increasing land value, as well as the transformation of livelihood from traditional agricultural activities to non-agricultural activities. The study also finds that the city PUI, which has well-developed agricultural environs, is a threat not only to fertile agricultural land but also to the livelihood option for the majority of native population. Therefore, the study suggests policy formulation for effective land protection to safeguard the interests of local population and their livelihoods.
Nasrin Banu, Shahab Fazal
Practising Cultural Geographies
Dr. Ravi S. Singh
Dr. Bharat Dahiya
Dr. Arun K. Singh
Padma C. Poudel
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