Wednesday, December 28, 2011

masala-waala

:D

Today, on the way back from the metro station, via Hauz Rani, I met a masala-waala! He sells masalas, and, unbelievably, pasta (!) on his redi/ wheel-cart. He sits in this area every Wednesday. Shit, I never even knew there were masala-waalas like him, let alone masala-aur-pasta waalas. This made my day, and even made the cycle-which-fell-on-my-foot-two-minutes-later sorta worth it.









Update:
My all-knowing brother tells me that a masalawaala isn't that rare (he's seen them around the Hauz Khas Village) and, more importantly, what I thought was pasta are actually un-fried/ dry fry-ums. You know, those snacky things that blow up when fried. Still, a weird thing to sell.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

isabgol and licences

 
Packaging for Sat-Isabgol, which my dad has been having since forever. I think it's brilliant! So retro. Absolutely love the typography. Notice how elements are repeated on both the English and Hindi sides, especially love the 'R' of registered. It's cardboard, and the 'trademark registered' oval is embossed. And the telephone! I don't understand the significance, but I definitely like the style and the detail. Click on the image for a zoomed in view.
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Got my driving licence! Very impressed by the authority- I gave my test yesterday morning and got it today by 3.30 in the afternoon. The envelope and the licence both have "Drive only if you must: use public transport" displayed quite prominently. And, surprised to note that Delhi Integrated Multi-Modal Transit Systems Limited is a project partner with the Transport Department.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Winning and Losing



Via Steven Heller's daily column at Imprint Magazine.
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Housing's over! YAY!

Picasa SlideshowPicasa Web AlbumsFullscreen
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In the latest issue of the Journal of Landscape Architecture, about the international design competition for the New Museum of Ancient India, Patna:
Five world-leading architectural firms are competing... each with their Indian architect partner firms...:
  1.  Coop Himmelblau (Vienna) with ARCHOHM
  2. Foster + Partners (London) with C.P. Kukreja & Associates
  3. Maki & Associates (Tokyo) with OPOLIS
  4. Snohetta (Oslo) with Spacematters
  5. Studio Daniel Libeskind (New York) with Morphogenesis
Whoa.
The museum, preliminary budget INR 350 crores, is slated to be operational by mid-2015.

Friday, November 25, 2011

Discoveries

during the INTACH Heritage Walk through Old Delhi, 13 November, with Sohail Hashmi.

 some BRILLIANT typography:
and some old and broken violins:

experiment

Anuj and Kabilan at Sikandar Lodi's tomb, Lodi Gardens, 25/11.
Will they kill me?

At the Ghazipur phool mandi

and

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Then and Now, TOI

Then and Now: How TOI covered the Tata change « sans serif:

'via Blog this'

Very interesting post on how the newspaper business has evolved. Business news about the TATA chairman-change goes from page 6/7 20 years ago to front page headlines today. I really appreciate the list of reasons, though I think one important aspect that was ignored is the fact that TATA is now a much bigger player in the game.

I've said this before, but sans serif is a great site to follow (though they have a very weird url: "wearethebest.wordpress.com". Seriously?!).

Till next time!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

cinema

Two short films I discovered today:
DILLI, an award winning documentary on Delhi (!) which talks about a lot of the stuff I have recently started thinking about, what with the Genda Phool Project, my dissertation and our inclusive housing project:


And THIS:

Hmm, which one is more awesome?

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Sandbox

via Lovely Package:

MORFOZE Polyhedron Soap

Such a great product + packaging design concept! A 3d contoured soap, which will, obviously, smoothen out with use.
MORFOZE is a hard soap concept, which surely will be liking to all who have had to face the principles of 3D-modelling software, designers, modellers, engineers and people who like everything unusual, everything that makes our life more interesting.
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I'm probably finding this extra awesome/ amusing considering I've been on Sketchup all day. But, yay!, design prefinal has now been postponed to Wednesday. Small mercies. 

Friday, November 18, 2011

Love and type, 2

Via this post at I LOVE TYPOGRAPHY:


This is brilliant! A sort-of collaborative effort which offers exercises aimed at getting people better at design, entrepreneurship and gardening. Can't wait for it to launch properly, considering that it's already got two AWESOME (one more than the other) typography tools to play with.

Kern= the spacing between two letters.



Both these games are quite simple and depend on instinct- what looks or feels right. I was, obviously, better at kerning than shaping- 89 compared to a 79 in the latter. But great fun.

Also, again via the same post:

A 'learn to kern' T-shirt! Available here.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

support structure


The last slide of a Theory of Structures presentation on steel trusses, 20/09/2011, by J.C. Wason.


Notes on Design

Good design is good will.
The genius of Paul Rand.


Intent is everything.
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Currently reading: Paul Rand, by Steven Heller, 2000



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Update:



Paul Rand's design for the NeXT logo, for Steve Jobs. He presented in the form of a book, which is so simple and brilliant. See Steven Heller's post on this and the book, here.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Buckminsterfullerene

A deformable cover (1) - Coverjunkie.com

'via Blog this'


Novum 11/11 – Making Of Cover from Paperlux on Vimeo.

Such fucking brilliant awesomeness. Shit. I mean, I've made Buckminster Fuller's geodesic domes before, but the mechanized process is just awesome. I can't get over the suction thingies just sucking the paper up, around 02:42. I want to own this magazine too, just so I can play with the cover and the pretty colours.

Buckminster Fuller is the first famous famous architect I heard of, back in science class at school. I still think he's, well, somewhat superior to the other starchitects because he imagined nature before it was discovered- his geodesic dome structure is repeated in the carbon isotope named after him.

My attempt at the dome, around 2 years ago now:

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Documenting Delhi

Author Tarquin Hall introduced me to an unusual Delhi slum in The Case of the Man who Died Laughing (2010):
The slum, one of Delhi's largest, was inhabited almost entirely by street entertainers: puppeteers, snake charmers, bear handlers, musicians, acrobats, troupes of actors who performed plays with social messages, the odd story-teller, and jadoo wallahs. But the view through the scratched, convex windshield was depressingly familiar: a sooty ghetto of ramshackle brick houses smothered in cow dung patties. Plastic sheeting, chunks of concrete, and twisted scrap metal were draped over roofs. Canvas tents were pitched amidst heaps of garbage where filthy, half-clad children defecated and played.
Hall went on to describe the incident in such vivid detail that it was a clear, crisp movie playing in my mind- in fact, when trying to recall where I had previously come across the slum, I had to discard the idea of a movie/ video, it seemed that real. Anyways, and again, credit to Tarquin Hall, I was so enthralled by the book that I forgot my intention to google the slum: he never even mentioned its name, only that it's in Shadipur.

It's called the Kathputli Colony, where wandering magicians and entertainers settled sometime in the 1950s, on public land which was then barren, but now prime property, courtesy of the Metro.


The name seems familiar-ish now that I know what it is, as if it was always on the edges of my consciousness. I'm sure I've come across it before.

This post was prompted by this brilliant trailer (and appeal) for Tomorrow We Disappear, a documentary by American filmmakers Jim Goldblum and Adam Weber.

The slum land now belongs to a private developer, so it's most probably in its last days, soon to become another entry in the long list of lost traditions and quirks that made Delhi Delhi. I'm not saying that slums are good, and need to be conserved. But I certainly think that the art and culture of this particular slum needs to be saved- or at least, remembered.

Jim and Adam are attempting to do exactly that- their movie will document Kathputli Colony as it is today. (As far as I know, it does not aim at stopping the eviction.)

The clips they have are beautiful. Also, I love the music they chose.


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This project is similar to HandpaintedType, by which graphic designer Hanif Kureshi is attempting to preserve the tradition of street-painting. You know, the painters who sit on roadsides and make posters/ banners/ car number plates. Before watching this video I never fully appreciated their skill. All I had were semi-curious half thoughts about how exactly they do it (especially since I've been required to draw guidelines for my text) - do they draw guides, do they use rulers, do they make a first draft, do they outline and and then fill-in later? Now I know, some-what.


Painter Kureshi from hanif kureshi on Vimeo.
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Came across Tomorrow We Disappear on Kickstarter, which is an awesomely brilliant platform where creative-types can get funding for their ideas and projects. (In a seemingly-random-but-obviously-preordained coincidence, Kickstarter was mentioned in three of the blogs I follow, all on the same day. Crazy.) Discovered so many interesting and quirky and intelligent and crazy (good and bad) and so-obvious-why-didn't-someone-think-of-it-before ideas! Here are some of my favourites:

  1. Ruler Pencils, rulers on pencils (product design) (!)
  2. The Present, an annual clock (product design)
  3. Typographic wall calender (graphic design)
  4. The Montserrat typeface (typography) (another attempt at documenting the intangible culture of a place before it's lost)
  5. Romo, the smartphone robot (technology) (so crazy and cute!)
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How is it that expats/ foreigners/ tourists sometimes (often) know your city better than you do? Tarquin Hall is a British journalist, Jim and Adam are American, and recently I (with Delhi Dallying and friends) participated in a surprisingly tough Delhi quiz hosted by another British journalist, Sam Miller, and which was (surprise!) won by other foreigners (of unknown nationality).
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Also, Happy Diwali!


Monday, October 24, 2011

Ek Anek Ekta

Via Jabberwock and then Anita and Amit Vachharajani:


Ek Anek Ekta, 1974, animated short film for Doordarshan 

How BRILLIANT is this short? I love, LOVE it. The narrative flows so well, and there are so many small instances which make the movie for me: the boy struggling to pick the mangoes in the beginning, the innocent voices, the secular, let's-all-unite! message, how the white people become colourful, the mala metaphor, my mom remembering the song and singing along!

Wonderful how small things can make you so happy.
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In their blog Amit (illustrator/film assistant) and Anita (author) Vachharajani talk about an eclectic mix of thing- but most interestingly about old, retro Indian memorabilia- comics, magazines, TV. I would never have known that Amitabh Bachchan starred in his very own superhero comic! His alter-ego: the Supremo, helped by his loyal side-kicks, Vijay and Anthony. You can read about the Vachharajani's adventures with Supremo here and here.

Friday, October 21, 2011

...someone in China or India can do your work more cheaply than you can.

I'm currently reading A Whole New Mind: Why Right-Brainers Will Rule the World (Daniel Pink, 2005), and it's both nice and fucking-annoying at the same time. Pink (imagine having that as your surname) is basically saying that the world is a-changing, that previously looked-down-on 'right-brain' skills (such as creativity, looking-at-the-big-picture, empathy) are going to be more valuable than the traditionally admired 'left-brain' skills (such as logic and sequential thinking). To survive in this scary, topsy-turvy world where design, for example, is a better career option than engineering, law or medicine, we need to apply both sides of our brain- basically, a 'whole' new mind. While I love the title (and the cover, it's neon!), I'm not sure about the book itself.

First of all, my version has a ton of typos and grammatical errors, which I just don't understand. I mean, how could the editors/ proof readers/ whoever let this happen? This is a minor concern, though, and the main reason for my annoyance is quite different.

Pink (I just love using his surname) says -and I guess I agree- that the main reasons for the fall of the left-brainers are Abundance, Asia and Automation. Abundance, because there's so much wealth and so many products that the only things which differentiate one offering from the other is design or marketing or story-telling, and not the function of the product itself. Asia and Automation because, well, now either machines or low-paid workers in India can do the technical boring bits for much less money. So, the only way to survive in such an economy is to adapt and offer services which can't be done by the machines or the low-paid Indian workers.

I started getting annoyed pretty early on, because I kept feeling that Dan was saying (though not stating) that Asian workers were not capable of doing such creative work, that America, UK and Canada were somehow more evolved countries which had already made the shift from the Information Age to the "Conceptual Age". Somewhat irrational, I know, but I just hate the American arrogance or whatever which makes it seem that now the menial and routine work can be outsourced, and whole-brained people must "rise" in the first world for it to maintain its supremacy. This theme recurs throughout the book (I've read till page 183 of 247) and makes me gnaw my teeth every time. I mean, first you promote globalization, because you want a wider market for your products, and then, when globalization also means that you have to compete in the global market for work, then it's a bad thing?

But Pink doesn't really say that. What he's saying is that "we" need to deal with it, and adapt ourselves. Yes, I know, I'm not making much sense, even to myself, and I also know that this book was written in 2005 by an American for Americans and I've already said that I know I'm being irrational. But I really, really hate how Pink goes on and on about Asians (especially Indians) now doing the routine left-brain work. I feel like he's constantly deriding their right-brain capabilities by assuming that Americans are in competition with Asians only for left-brain jobs. This, when everyday I come across so many examples of amazing design work done by Indians, when I hear that the science stream topper from my brother's school is studying design at NID. This is my issue with the book: I think that the whole world is waking up to the power of right-brain thinking, and not just the western, "advanced" world.

By some weird quirk of fate (ha) I came across this article the same day I was feeling all pissed about the book, and the author made me feel better about Americans in general. The author says:
When you say of the Indians, “evidently, the quality is good enough,” I can tell you that yes, it is, and often it is better. There is a lot of design talent beyond our borders — educated, clear thinking, visionary, with great enthusiasm and a tremendous work ethic. To us insular Americans, this may be shockingGet unshocked, and get ready to play. It’s a good thing. 
and this is the attitude I was looking for, not the let's-develop-new-skills-that-the-Indians-don't-have-so-we-can-maintain-our-domination. Argh, I feel as if I'm being excessively critical again, but I can't help it. And I have to say that in spite of all this, I do think that the book is pretty good, it does talk a lot of sense, and it offers some much-needed advice. I may not love it, but I do like it.

On an aside, Before and After Magazine's "design talks" are pretty interesting. They have some nice free stuff to download/ watch too.
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Also, came across this neat illustration when image-searching for the book cover:
The artist's "visual notes" for the book.


Saturday, October 15, 2011

Designing the life and death of

How the Newsweeklies Covered (and Designed) the Death of Steve Jobs - Grids - SPD.ORG - Grids:

'via Blog this'


Amazing article on what went on behind-the-scenes at Time, Bloomberg Businessweek and Newsweek. Reading about the sheer energy and the commitment driving each team-member as they worked towards the absolutely brilliant covers and spreads is exhilarating. And since the decision to go with special issues focusing entirely on Jobs was so last-minute (for obvious reasons) the office environment doesn't seem much different from an all-nighter the day before the final for a group project. When you're just so crazily focused on making the deadline, it's like a major case of tunnel vision. Seriously, you have to live it to believe it. Rohan, Varun and I got the crazies while trying to finish ANDC: I reached home at 3 in the night, no lunch, no dinner, but many phone calls and lets-abuse-the-battery-backup-limitations-of-our-laptops sessions and even more place hopping later. We went from Ghaziabad to Indirapuram to hostel to New Friends to Julena to ITO to hostel to Julena, all in the course of some 7-8 hours, in the pursuit of a working plotting machine.

I want to own all the three magazines. Time and Newsweek for the brilliant cover-photographs, but especially Bloomberg Businessweek because the cover-back spread is printed on a metallic silver base. Gah.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Art is for everyone

From Art Direction Explained, At Last!, an imaginary (but well researched) conversation between legendary graphic designer Pierre Bernard and maverick adman Pascal Gregoire:

GREGOIRE: Wait a minute! Weren't you also mixing codes with your Louvre logo? You used a black-and-white photograph of a cloud as the background for the word LOUVRE, spelled out in all caps. The letters look like they have been carved out of marble, yet they float in space. It makes no sense.
BERNARD: I was trying to convey the idea of grandeur, something associated with the Louvre institution, but also with the concept of public space and the democratic values attached to it. Originally, I had proposed a logo inspired by I.M. Pei's pyramid, but he vetoed it. It was written in his contract that the only triangle would be his triangle. So I decided to evoke the presence of the glass pyramid by integrating in the design of the logo a photograph of the cloudy Parisian sky as seen through Pei's iconographic skylight. 
I learnt many things from this anecdote. One of which is: I.M. Pei has a hell of an ego. 

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Portfolio

As part of my course, we need to spend our 8th semester (starting January 2012) getting work experience and training at an architecture firm/wherever-the-hell-you-get-an-internship.

This is what I've come up with:


Would love some feedback! And if you spot a typo please tell me about it, I might still be able to correct it. 

Monday, October 10, 2011

God knows. Or does he?

This flow of creation, from where did it arise,
Whether it was ordered or was not,
He, the Observer, in the highest heaven,
He alone knows, unless... He know it not.
From the Hymn to Creation, the Nasadiya Sukta, in the Rig Veda.

So, there's no answer. How... quirky.
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I'm currently reading Introducing Hinduism: A Graphic Guide. So you can blame it for my sudden philosophical slant.

Monday, October 3, 2011

ideo-

Words divide, pictures unite.
and
Words are pictures too.
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Ideograms and ideographs convey ideas without explicitly stating them.
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From the Online Etymology Dictionary:
idea
late 14c., "archetype of a thing in the mind of God; Platonic `idea,'" from L. idea "idea," and in Platonic philosophy "archetype," from Gk. idea "ideal prototype," lit. "the look of a thing (as opposed to the reality); form; kind, sort, nature," from idein "to see," from PIE *wid-es-ya-, suffixed form of base *weid- "to see" (see vision). Sense of "result of thinking" first recorded 1640s.
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From V for Vendetta (2006):
But what of the man? I know his name was Guy Fawkes and I know, in 1605, he attempted to blow up the Houses of Parliament. But who was he really? What was he like? We are told to remember the idea, not the man, because a man can fail. He can be caught, he can be killed and forgotten, but 400 years later, an idea can still change the world. I've witnessed first hand the power of ideas, I've seen people kill in the name of them, and die defending them... but you cannot kiss an idea, cannot touch it, or hold it... ideas do not bleed, they do not feel pain, they do not love... And it is not an idea that I miss, it is a man... A man that made me remember the Fifth of November. A man that I will never forget.
and
Beneath this mask there is more than flesh. Beneath this mask there is an idea, Mr. Creedy, and ideas are bulletproof.
From the V for Vendetta graphic novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

of news and other things.

Boulevard du Temple by Daguerre
The oldest photograph of a person, 1838.

From wiki:

Boulevard du Temple, Paris, 3rd arrondissement, Daguerreotype. The purportedly first picture of a living person. The image shows a busy street, but due to exposure time of more than ten minutes, the traffic was moving too much to appear. The exception is the man at the bottom left, who stood still getting his boots polished long enough to show. Look closely and you will also see another man sitting on a bench to the right reading a newspaper. Also in the upper left hand side you can also see another man standing under the awning of the 3rd building from the left. What looks to be a woman standing under the street lantern at 10 o'clock from the man getting his shoes shined and another one in the big white building,1st row 3rd window down. Notice the child in the top floor window of the white building in front. Note that the image is a mirror image.

10 minute exposure time is so crazy. I mean, none of the carriages (cars?) are visible, and it's not like they're super fast either.

Got this from the 1000memories blog post How many photos have ever been taken? which has some other crazy stuff. Sample this:

I just don't understand why it's all so PINK.
Not really a surprise, but still, I DID NOT imagine that Facebook would have so many more photographs than other libraries.

This post is via Charles Apples' blog on newspaper/ magazine design. Also discovered via him: the Nueseum website's Today's Front Pages webpage which, well, showcases the frontpages of newspapers from around the world (but mostly within the USA). The Nueseum also displays newspaper frontpages outside its building along the public sidewalk.The Nueseum's in Washington, and while we didn't visit it, I remember clearly its very dramatic (and impressive) facade:

Excuse the random composition. Taken when on the move.
I wonder: is this mannerism, as defined by Robert Venturi? An example of the decorated shed and not the duck. Fits in well with the WordWeb definition of mannerism: A deliberate pretence or exaggerated display. In any case, I think it works really, really well.

Some other interesting links:
sans serif: on the latest behind-the-scenes happenings in Indian news and media. Offers pretty much what the tagline offers: the news. the views. the juice.
Information is Beautiful: on infographics- simply put, graphics which covey information. Some really-fucking-brilliantly-amazing work. (via Rachit)
History of Graphic Design: Just how beautiful is this site? Sigh.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Development and Dignity

Warning: long, long rant ahead.

In the fourth year of architectural training, you do only one design project: housing, which is, frankly, large and detailed enough to occupy the entire semester. Every year the faculty decides on a common theme and students try and attempt their own version of it. Last year (or was it the year before last?) the theme was futuristic housing. So everyone tried to make funky forms and what not.

This year we have to design inclusive housing, the meaning of inclusive being not exclusive, but the real debate arises when you try to define it further: inclusive to what extent? What do we want to achieve: social inclusivity -different races, ethnicities, genders, ages, disabilities- or economic inclusivity -different classes- or maybe even both?

As part of the class's preliminary research, me and my housing partner, Varun (it’s done in teams of two) were told to present on this very issue (before we found out it was to be our theme). I don't want to get into the inclusive debate, because I am frankly sick of talking about this, needless to say Varun and I spent many, many hours thrashing it out. Not surprisingly -especially considering the government policy of 'forcing' private developers to provide for a minimum amount of EWS (economically weaker sections) and LIG (low income groups) dwelling units in any housing project- we started talking economics and capitalism and socialism and the whole brouhaha. 

Varun is staunchly on the capitalist side. He sometimes wonders whether a completely liberal economy with little or no government regulation might not be the way forward. As for me, while I felt sorry when I saw the living conditions of the poor, a part of me also felt that they couldn't afford the things they needed because they didn't have money, and that was OK, because we live in a fair economic system where only the purchasing power maters. I did economics in school, and it seemed pretty basic to me- the market forces of demand and supply govern everything.

As secondary research for my dissertation, my guide asked me to watch Story of Stuff and The Economics of Happiness. She also asked me to read economist Amit Bhaduri's work: The Face You Were Afraid to See and Development with Dignity, and both make compelling (if slightly repetitive) reads. I also recently finished reading Introducing Capitalism: a graphic guide. This blog post is, in essence, my understanding of and thoughts on these books.

I just love the cover design of The Face You Were Afraid to See. 
How awesome are the photograph, the font, and
the yellow against the stark black and white, all put together?
Bhaduri in particular makes very convincing arguments against liberalization and globalization. In a globalized economy and in a free trade system, producers from a still developing country are required to compete in the world market. The only way they can succeed is if they reduce the price of the commodity they are trying to sell (less price as compared to alternatives, more demand and thus profit). This is generally done by reducing the costs incurred in producing that commodity: labour, raw material, land, etc.

To reduce labour costs, most industries opt for mechanization and try to increase the productivity of each individual worker, thus minimizing the total number of workers. This works perfectly well on a micro level, for one firm. The problem arises when all (or most) of the producers start doing the same, especially in a labour intensive country like India.

When so many employers reduce jobs, the demand becomes much greater than the supply, and workers are happy to work in worse conditions than prescribed by the law just to make a living. Also, every worker becomes immediately replaceable, promoting the hire-and-fire system and casualization of labour. This is a lot like the informal construction labourer market- there assembles a huge crowd of such labourers near Kotla Mubarakpur who are looking for work on a day-by-day basis. Because there are so many competing for so few jobs, they willingly work for less than the daily wage prescribed by the government. This whole time, neither the builder nor the industry owner is doing anything wrong because they are just accommodating the market forces- higher the supply, lower the price. They would have to be seemingly stupid to pay more for the labour.

Our traditional economy was based on labour-intensive agriculture and other allied fields. With industrialization came the shift to the secondary and tertiary sector. In recent years, in order to ‘stay on the good side’ of international financial organizations such as IMF and the World Bank (the same reason for the move to free trade, which most benefits the first world members) the government has decided to promote private-public partnerships, wherein the government acts as a facilitator for the corporations. In fact, the relationship between political powers and big corporations has a long mutually beneficial history. The government has often used the Land Acquisition Act, for example, to take land away from people who had been living on it for generations (with little to no compensation) for ‘public purpose’ and give it to industrial giants at rock bottom prices- subsidising for them the initial cost of land, and in the case of the mineral rich Chattisgarh and Jharkhand, the raw material. No doubt there is substantial exchange of money on the side. This, I think, is where the corporations are at fault: they are willing to pay bribes to facilitate this transaction, instead of relying on the basics of economics and capitalism- the logic that they could have bought out the original owners simply by appealing to their self-interest. The government should also stay out of it; there are other ways of encouraging industry.

This also means that these people have no options but to look for jobs in other sectors. In essence, this means that there are many -the majority, in fact- who are unemployed or marginally employed in the country and who thus have very low purchasing power. They are unable to contribute significantly as buyers. But, yet, our economy is experiencing very high growth, even though the majority is pitiably poor. This is because money is increasingly getting concentrated in the hands of a privileged few: the rich are getting richer, and the poor are getting poor, at least relatively if not absolutely. The rich demand more and more products, and the industry responds by producing for them. This is what is driving our economy. 

Thus, the major demand in the market is for products for the rich- products which by virtue of their character require specialized, often large scale, production techniques and technologies, not to mention marketing and management. Bhaduri's oft stated example is of bottled water- we have many expensive variants of in the market even while a significant portion of our population has no access to potable water. This is almost like the Great Famine (1845-50) when the Irish were too poor to buy food, and the population reduced by 20-25%. But, at the same time, Ireland was a net exporter of food- for example, corn was shipped to Britain where it could fetch a better price in the market. 

Small scale producers are unable to compete with the big businesses and corporations, not just in terms of technologies but also the economies of production and scale. This results in a sort-of poverty trap, with the added result that the rich are becomingly increasingly indifferent to the poor, who are unable to contribute either as buyers or sellers. The only way out of this cycle would be better education, health and other public service, but under the new economic policies the investment in these sectors has fallen considerably.

Going by how the markets operate, under no regulation, producers would logically only produce those commodities for which they could get the most demand and best price. In today’s inequitable conditions, this would mean that even while the poor can barely make a living and thus going without roti, kapda and makaan, the rich are driving our economy forward to never before seen heights.

Obviously, then, high economic growth does not necessarily mean economic development. The growth is powered by the increase in purchasing of the power, and, against conventional knowledge, this growth is not trickling down to the poor. All those clich├ęd sayings that ‘there are two Indias’ is actually true.
This inequity is only rising. Bhaduri thinks that it’s only a little while before the economy will crash and burn. Like what happened during the Great Depression (1930s). Right before, in 1929, 0.1% of America’s population controlled 34% of the wealth, owning as much money as the bottom 42%.

America was able stand on its feet again with the help of Keynes’ and Roosevelt’s ‘The New Deal,’ which focused on increasing public expenditure and greater regulation of financial institutions and trading. The policies focused on always ensuring that there was money flowing in the economic system. After the Second World War, America’s plans to help the impoverished European and East Asian countries –the Marshall Plan- also hinged on this. They provided a significant amount in aid, but with the proviso that 90% of it be matched by the receiving government (the rest 10% being a repayable loan with interest), and also that the recipients co-operated in an open market. Thus, most of this money was spent on American good and the policy meant that more money flowed back into the American economy.

Anyways, my point is that even America imposed stringent controls on its economy in the early stages, at least until the 80s when Milton Friedman started questioning the importance of government intervention -Monetarism. Of course, both Monetarism and Keynesianism hinge on ever-increasing consumption -disparaged quite famously in the Story of Stuff- with its associated negative cultural effects.
So, maybe, like Bhaduri advocates, the Indian government should also impose more regulations and dramatically increase public expenditure on basic rights like education and health, and also on shared infrastructure, thereby creating employment.

Take the example of South Korea -a rich and developed country- which got there by following a form of “State Capitalism” which included protectionist tariffs and government expenditure in infrastructure. On the other hand, many African countries who got aid from the World Bank and IMF -providing they opened their markets- are still struggling.

I’m not against free trade and liberalization and globalization, I just think that maybe the Indian economy is not yet ready for a completely open market. Maybe we should encourage free trade in some sectors while still protecting the others.

Argh, this is such a confusing issue where every turn means a new minefield. It seems that these days Varun and I are always arguing about this, and our opinions are never fixed, nor our ideas clear, because we are never able to completely defend our reasoning to each other. Bleh.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Love and Type

WhatFont
Great Google Chrome app which identifies (most of) the fonts used on a web page.

Free (and easy) online tool to create fonts. There is also amazingly awesome amateur work up for download. 
THIS IS SO MUCH FUN!

work-(hopefully)-in-progress
Meet Your Type
Brilliant, hilarious type guide by FontShop. More of their education resources here.

***
Why do all these typography websites have two word names with no spacing? 

Daryaganj



On the Daryaganj Walk, March 2011, organized by students of Sushant School of Art and Architecture, Gurgaon.
Check out more photos here.
Does Daryaganj get its name by virtue of its (earlier) location along the river?

Hauz Rani

As experienced on the walk back home from the Metro station

I’ve lived in my present home for 17 years. The Hauz Rani urban village has always been right next door, but I didn’t really become aware of it until my brother discovered Avon Video Selection, where we could rent movie DVDs for as little as 50 rupees. Suddenly we were going to Hauz Rani every other day, at least until that guy started home delivery/ pickup.

Then the metro started. The Malviya Nagar station is actually on the edge of Hauz Rani and Saket, and the closest to home, about 15 minutes away. For some time I took the long way home, along Press Enclave road. I don’t even remember how I discover the shortcut –I think I saw some people going along it and decided to follow- but I now go via the village.

There is a steep stairway (going up) which open out onto a very large piece of undeveloped land where weeds and shrubs and urinating men reign supreme, though there are some trees. On the right is a high wall, behind which, on a slightly higher level, I assume, are houses. In the past month a couple of food and paan shops have cropped up here, and they very conveniently use the wall top as their sill.  

The path bends right and the wall continues, though the paving does not. Suddenly you have to battle through mud, kitchad and water logged holes. A little further away, and due to the benign grace of some enterprising fellow (or a cow gone crazy, because the villagers do keep cattle) there appears, literally, a hole in the wall, portal to the Hauz Rani I know. The wall is now on my left, and on the right are bright turquoise and pink painted 2-3 storey narrow houses. This lane, about 2 metres wide, is literally their front yard, and since many keep their doors open, I’ve often caught glimpses of old men reclining on charpais and of women doing pochcha, squatting with their sarees hiked up. Most houses also have their toilets opening onto the streets, small 1m square compartment-like rooms with only enough space for a Indian style WC. I always feel compelled to look the other way whenever I see anyone entering or exiting, as if I’m invading their privacy.

This is something I very often wonder: do the villagers mind the sudden influx of passersby through their previously anonymous galli? Or are they happy, seeing opportunity for enterprise? I’ve already mentioned the new khana-peena-paan shops, and there also a couple of small grocery shops on the galli, though I don’t know if they came up only after the Metro did.

I also never feel awkward when passing through, however short my shorts are, unlike on the latter leg of my journey when I have to go via a part of Malviya Nagar I like to call the Sardar Colony (no offence intended), since the whole neighbourhood seems to be populated by Sikhs (and I’m not joking, houses have quaint names like Pahalwan Niwas and the colony gates have very prominent shield-and-kirpan embellishments).

I think it’s because the Hauz Rani villagers are so busy working or cleaning or playing (in the case of children), and there are always youth in Malviya Nagar who seemingly have nothing to do, or are at least busy taking a break whenever I pass through. As a result -and I’m not saying that they misbehave, because they don’t, but they are obviously people-watching- suddenly I feel as if all eyes are on me, walking alone on a very quiet (especially after the hustle-bustle of the Hauz Rani lane) and wide 5 metre road (this short-cut is not as busy, but I see new people discovering it every day –yahan se bhi gol chakkar aayega kya?).

The part of Hauz Rani that I’ve just described, the face of the galli, is all I associate with Hauz Rani. So whenever I find out something new, I’m always very surprised. For example, recently a small group of us decided to design an intervention in the area for a competition, and I discovered that the village is actually much larger, going all the way up to Khirki and the Saket malls, and that is has a over-700-year long history. I found it so very disconcerting- I felt as if I would now have to alter the image I had rendered in my head. In fact, when I say Hauz Rani I still mean this area, even though this is almost definitely an extension of the original village.

(I also found out why there’s a Hauz in the name, even though there’s no evidence of a lake or water body nearby, which I had previously wondered about.  Click here to go to a very interesting essay -'Perceiving ‘your’ land: neighbourhood settlements and the Hauz-i Rani'- by historian Sunil Kumar on the hitherto lake and the changing relationship between the village and affluent Saket.)

Below is my mental map of Hauz Rani and the Google Earth image of the same area. I've also marked out the route I take on another Google Earth image.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Freedom

can be dangerous and deadly and everything in between.
-Professor I.M. Chisti on 17th August, 2011. 

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

RIP

The phool mandis of Delhi are gone.

From this...
to this.
Here is the only online news post on it I've found till now. How superficial can you get? I mean, Teachers' Day? Doesn't this shift deserve an article on its own?