Goa is an example of a vibrant urban culture within dense yet dispersed cities (Revi et al. 2006). This can be seen as a new opportunity to shift the paradigm of centralized growth and to include the rural and the urban as a single space — not two spaces, as is now the case. This could also be an opportunity for Asia, to answer the developmental dilemma that urbanization has produced in the West, and has left most of the countryside industrialized, suburbanized, or prettified (Tay, 2008). Revision of the relationship between capitalism and the city, and the urban-rural binary might lead to new solutions. We question the megacities as symbols of advanced capitalism and industrialization. Are there no better solutions? The growth model is doubtful if it results in further environmental destruction. Cities don’t need to be one centralized agglomeration but can also function like a living web spread over valleys and waterways, co-existing with farms and plantation forests. Can we create such a future of RUrbanism: coevolution of the countryside and of the city that is embedded within it? Goa was chosen as an example since it already demonstrates an alternative urban and has the potential to develop further into a sustainable model of urban future. Goa needs to be understood as an urban system, not as a city. This view also supports Anthony Leeds' (2017) thesis that the usual linear thinking of urbanization does not apply to societies as they are complex networks. Generalizations about urbanism and urban society are mostly derived from a single form of urbanism, which occurred during the past 500 years, as a side effect of the expansion of the capitalist system. As Leeds calls it the evolution of “the capitalist city in urban capitalist society”. Opposing urban to rural originates in this perception of urbanization and neglects the fact, that all human agglomerations have similar functions regarding an inclusive society, the creation of flows of exchange, transfer, and communications, and is interlinked with other settlements around them- contributing to society as an integral part, as a part of the total system. Further, all members of a system, which contains towns or cities can be called an urban society, including the rural and agricultural domains. Rather than creating a two-class society associated with the terms rural and urban, the term 'rural' can be applied to a set of specialities of urban society. “ 'rural' and 'urban' indeed obfuscate what are, in fact, much more complex structures ” (Leeds, 2017).
India is currently experiencing a highly imbalanced growth of its urban system. The population is concentrating and expanding vertically around the large cities and horizontally in the peri-urban areas (Tripathi, 2021). Even though Indian cities are repeatedly referred to as “engines of economic growth”, they are largely unsustainable, more and more congested and it has therefore become difficult to manage and provide basic infrastructure and services. Encouraging polycentric growth and population sizes of smaller towns can help lessen the dominance of population concentration in megacities (Tripathi, 2021). The portrait of megacities is outdated and small towns and alternative forms of urbanism such as those explored in the example of Goa can impart a more sustainable future and higher quality of life.
You can access part 1 here.
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