chapter  6
38 Pages

Imagining Modernity: Symbolic Terrains of Housing

By the 1930s signs of ‘progress’ were everywhere in Delhi for those who perceived them as such. Wide paved roads, tramlines, regional linkages by rail lines and roads, bridges, electricity, piped water supply, underground sewage lines and treatment plants, factories and mills, rationalized urban administration with clearly defined territories, by-laws, building codes, an organized police force, several large hospitals and a system of smaller dispensaries, colleges, schools, museums, and new retail – all were visible in the city. Above all was a shining new imperial city, New Delhi, three miles to the south of what increasingly became known as ‘Old’ Delhi. At the same time, the walled city had only become more congested, more haphazard, and more uncontrollable than ever. Beyond the walls, regardless of Whitehead’s protestations over the mismanagement of government lands, and Clarke’s enthusiasm to establish orderly extensions, spontaneous development continued. As the old city came to represent the limits of science and rationality, for the officials the planned development of the government’s vast estates promised to celebrate the transformative powers of reason.