Aromar Revi56 | CITYSCAPES
CONVERSATION Teaching    forTomorrow   The Indian Institute for Human Settlements is an independent, privately funded, glo...
Iconversation                                                                                                         that...
conversationEP: I’d like to hear more about how         only come from political leadership.         few reflections on wh...
conversation                                                                                    at the Indian Institute fo...
conversation“ a contradiction in      a change in such a measured and                          systematic way. Can we come...
conversation “ of today’s              within this methodology you’re                           adopting to build up the i...
conversationAR: To some extent India is still fairly    regional socio-cultural diversity            an understanding that...
conversation “ Renaissance was a                              AR: Yes, absolutely.                      this? The socio-cu...
conversation                            for people who can learn fast and                             practice that can re...
conversationtoo immersed in the realities.                                                      AR: I’m not sure whether I...
conversation “ fundamental              AR: I think it’s an important point,      around what we call a raga. Multiple    ...
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Aromar Revi: Teaching for Tomorrow


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The Indian Institute for Human Settlements is an independent,
globally ranked education and action-oriented
research institution created by a number of India’s leading
entrepreneurs, professionals and thought leaders to address the
multi-dimensional and inter-disciplinary challenge of the country’s
urbanisation. Edgar Pieterse speaks to Aromar Revi, the institute’s
future-orientated director, about his revolutionary approach to
curriculum and imagining what is possible.

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Aromar Revi: Teaching for Tomorrow

  1. 1. Aromar Revi56 | CITYSCAPES
  2. 2. CONVERSATION Teaching forTomorrow The Indian Institute for Human Settlements is an independent, privately funded, globally ranked education and action-oriented research institution created by a number of India’s leading entrepreneurs, professionals and thought leaders to address themulti-dimensional and inter-disciplinary challenge of the country’surban growth. Edgar Pieterse speaks to Aromar Revi, the institute’s future-orientated director, about his revolutionary approach to curriculum and imagining what is possible. CITYSCAPES | 57
  3. 3. Iconversation that of a problem into an opportunity, and I think that has happened over the last ten-odd years or so. Many of us have been involved for a quarter century in trying to address this challenge, but we’re just starting to pick up a new momentum. It provides us with a tremendous opportunity of a new trajectory of development, a new way of life, and addressing many challenges—from the lack of water and power to sustainability. But centrally, it is an opportunity for social transformation. India’s urban population is expected to This is something that some of the increase from a little over 375-million in leaders of India’s Freedom movement 2011 to about 800-million by the middle from nearly 60 years ago saw—that of the 21st century. At this future point, cities were an opportunity to address urban India will account for more than questions of social transformation. half of the country’s population. Nearly If cities are going to provide t two-thirds of India’s economic output opportunities for this transformation, already comes from urban areas. then the question is: How can The challenge of equipping the country you help educate and train a new Aromar Revi (b. 1961, India) is an international to deal with this pervasive urban future generation of change-makers? Things practitioner, consultant, researcher and educator with has been taken up by an ambitious significant inter-disciplinary experience in public are happening at such a quick pace, policy and governance, the political economy of independent research institution and and at such a large scale, giving us the reform, development, technology, sustainability and prospective national university for opportunity to create the environment human settlements. Currently director of the Indian innovation, the Indian Institute for to make transformational change Institute for Human Settlements, he has been a senior Human Settlements. Headed up by happen. But we’re really short on advisor to various Indian governmental ministries, Aromar Revi, this fledgling institute consulted with a wide range of UN, multilateral, time. It takes a decade or two to bilateral development and private sector institutions aims to create a new profession and build a new educational regime—that and works on economic, environmental and social new discipline focused on “urban means a couple of hundred million change at global, regional and urban scales. He practice” to address the needs of working new urban residents. To be honest, we has led over 100 major research, consulting and professionals and younger learners, should have done what we are doing implementation assignments in India and abroad. A practitioners and researchers. fellow of the India China Institute at the New School now over 15 years ago, when India’s University, New York, he has written and edited economic reforms were just taking five books. He is also one of South Asia’s leading Edgar Pieterse: From the vantage root. disaster mitigation and management experts and point of the African Centre for Cities, EP: Do politicians and policy makers has led emergency teams to assess, plan and execute and the community of scholars grasp or understand the need for recovery and rehabilitation programmes for ten major and practitioners in Africa who earthquake, cyclone, surge and flood events affecting higher education and training? over five million people. are all beginning to wake up to the AR: They are starting to understand magnitude and implications of the that now. A recent report talked Edgar Pieterse (b. 1968, Cape Town) is an urban urban transition in Africa, we’ve about the need to do this at scale, scholar, writer and creative agent whose interests really been inspired by the scale to train not only ‘leaders’, but also include the theory and practice of policy discourses and ambition of your work. By and interventions to make the African city more a wider range of people. Part of this just, open and accessible. He holds the South African what it means in the Asian context, discourse comes from the fact that we Research Chair in Urban Policy at the University of and specifically in the South Asian are imagining what it is possible in Cape Town and is director of the African Centre for context, but also because you haven’t the future, with the recognition that Cities. Formerly a special policy advisor to the premier been overwhelmed by the scale of constraints today are less resources of the Western Cape, he is the author of City Futures: it. Can you give us some background Confronting the Crisis of Urban Development and technology but people and (2008). He has also co-edited numerous volumes, as to how you stumbled into this institutions. It’s a contradiction in including Counter-Currents: Experiments field, and how come you’ve ended terms: in a region that has almost in Sustainability in the Cape Town Region up leading a systematic educational 1.5-billion people, the constraint (2010), Consolidating Developmental response to the organisation being appropriately educated and Local Government (2008) and Voices of the question? It is probably the largest Transition: The Politics, Poetics and Practices trained people. But that’s because of Development in South Africa (2004). He is experiment of its kind in the world? of the way our higher educational co-editor of the ongoing The African Cities Reader Aromar Revi: The big challenge has system has developed or degraded (2010) series. been to transform the discourse from over the last two decades.58 | CITYSCAPES
  4. 4. conversationEP: I’d like to hear more about how only come from political leadership. few reflections on what that processyou’re biting into this challenge, A new generation of change-makers revealed for you, and how that hasand what the pragmatic approach to would need to have new technical informed your thinking?this is. But, if I can, I want to reflect competencies and the ability to go AR: It’s actually been very interestingwhat you’re saying onto the African and actually muck around and work for us, because we started with thecontext. Our reality is that we have in cities. They may well become hypothesis that from our experienceboth the human challenge, on the future political leaders. much of what we were teaching wasone hand, and then the financing EP: This has been our central learning less relevant—and then we went outand institutional challenge as from the last two years of building up to prove it, formally. We reviewedwell. Obviously one can’t equate the ACC: the moment is absolutely programmes from across the world,Africa with India. We’re not seeing ripe, if not overripe. What’s been from maybe 60 odd universities,the same levels of growth. There instructive for us as we’ve gone about 2,000 courses or so. What we foundare about a dozen countries with trying to imagine what a curriculum was startling. The first thing wasresource portfolios on the continent could look like, one that could that even at the best places in thethat are achieving growth, but then really equip these practitioners, is world, the theory was lagging, eventhere’s still another 40 countries the realisation just how redundant innovative practice—it was anywhereleft. I’m trying to think about what a lot of ‘world class knowledge’ between ten to 20 years behind. Andthe implications could be for how and ‘best practice’ is in our context, we were able to test that, because wewe should be thinking about this especially in a situation where the had people involved in the processchallenge in the African context. current pressures are so extreme and that could speak to that question, inI’m curious whether you have some unprecedented. Of course, in your India, in Europe, the United Statesthoughts on that too? case, you’ve actually gone out and and China. you’ve reviewed what the best in the The second thing, of course, which world has to offer, Can you share a we knew beforehand, was that what“ big challenge hasThe URBAN SETTLEMENT GROWTH IN INDIA: 1951been to transform thediscourse from thatof a problem into anopportunity.”AR: I’m not an African specialist butI think a critical opportunity wouldbe a pan-African response, linkingup between experiences, ideas andpeople across different contexts. Ifyou’re able to do that and not becomecompletely constrained by nationalboundaries, or particular ethnicities,that would be a significant beginning.I think what you are trying to dohere, with the ACC, for example,is a very important step in thatdirection—educating a cadre of peoplewho can think in wider and deeperterms. If I look back, there was awhole generation of people from aparticular university in the EasternCape [University of Fort Hare] whotransformed this part of Africa.Contemporary challenges are no < 0.1 0.1-0.5 0.5-1 1-5 >5 MILLIONless, except that responses may not CITYSCAPES | 59
  5. 5. conversation at the Indian Institute for Human URBAN SETTLEMENT GROWTH IN INDIA: 1971 Settlements (IIHS). EP: I’m curious about that revolutionary approach to thinking about curriculum. What has the response been amongst India’s established system of academics, those people who currently transact and produce urban planners? What and how are you managing those potential tensions? AR: It’s a mix of things. At the moment we’re going through a process of educational sector reform. At the top end of the system, there’s KOLKATA a degree of openness—there is (6.9) MUMBAI consensus that we need a dramatic (5.8) change in our higher education system, if India is to make many of the transitions we talked about. We are teaching stuff that is 30 or 40 years old. You cannot build a knowledge economy around this. For a service sector-led economy this could have dramatic impact. There are a number of dramatic new educational initiatives, like the IIHS, India’s first prospective National University for Innovation that focuses on its urban transformation. < 0.1 0.1-0.5 0.5-1 1-5 >5 MILLION But that is at the macro level. Practitioners are desperately looking for this opportunity and we are typically teaching in India is we have such tremendous people about 20 years behind what is already innovating across the country. redundant elsewhere. So we were From the practitioner’s side, there’s effectively transacting ‘knowledge’ a great deal of engagement with that was 40 years out of date, which the IIHS because we’re an open had nothing to do with the reality institution where there’s little of that people are experiencing today. the traditional hierarchy between How can we move teaching and academics—the ‘experts’ if you will— learning out of that trap? The and practitioners. It leads to a good challenge was to reconstruct synergy between these cultures. knowledge that would be relevant In terms of people who are in for today, knowledge that would academic roles at the moment, there be important for practitioners and is the excitement of a new openness policymakers. We asked one basic to a dialogue around problem question: What will be relevant in solving and knowledge creation from 2030 for the young people today who below that cuts through traditional have the potential to transform the barriers. I was teaching one of our system? We’re therefore teaching for interdisciplinary programmes a tomorrow, not only for today. There’s couple of months ago, and many almost a three-generation difference people came up and said, ‘This is between what’s being taught and fantastic, this is what we started to what needs to be engaged in—that’s do 30 years ago, but we lost ourselves been a very interesting shift that we in a maze of bureaucracy. It’s nice have started to make progress on to know that you’re trying to make58 | CITYSCAPES
  6. 6. conversation“ a contradiction in a change in such a measured and systematic way. Can we come and help you?’ that you (the IIHS) deliberately and consciously opened yourselves up both to the north and the south?It’s EP: The one thing I really want to AR: Absolutely, we’re at an age interms: in a region that probe, and that I think is potentially which openness to all geographieshas almost 1.5-billion really important for the larger is important. We traditionally had apeople, the constraint community to understand, is if you colonial and northern engagement, design a curriculum and if you’re but our orientation has slowlybeing appropriately trying to prepare practitioners for shifted. The real innovation iseducated and trained the future that is in 20 or 30 years actually happening in the southernpeople. But that’s time how do you go about that? hemisphere. Whether it’s Brazil,because of the way How do you source the new kind of Mexico or Colombia, various parts of knowledge that’s required? Maybe Africa, South Africa—that’s where theour higher educational just a few thoughts on how you’ve real experimentation is happening.system has developed or practically engaged with that kind of People in our cites and parts of thedegraded over the last work? world have to innovate just to survive,two decades. AR: There are two realities. One it’s very simple. The challenge is of reality is that most of today’s aggregation of this innovation, to be” solutions are linked with today’s able to engage and adapt and co- crisis and tomorrow’s opportunities. create at a cross-country scale. There are tens of thousands of EP: It seems to me that there is a new innovative responses taking form paradigm in the making. So all of the across our cities and towns. The biology with it is between university question is how to connect those and society, or between the state, the processes and innovators with other private sector and society, between actors and systems—you have to qualified academic knowledge reach out and connect them in ways and practitioner knowledge. You’re that have been rarely explored before, collapsing all of these boundaries, but except maybe by movements and still there is a method to the madness, markets. in a sense. EP: It’s how one taps the energy at AR: Yes. the bottom. EP: And, it seems to me that this idea AR: Absolutely. We want to try and of experimentation and innovation bridge the asymmetry of language, is a very powerful notion to unpack, and hence the asymmetry of power because what we’re grappling with in and hierarchy. The bulk of expert our case is how to animate a capacity knowledge is embedded in control to be rigorous and systematic in of advanced technical systems. As understanding the obstacles to soon as you’re able to bridge that, in structural change, but at the same a somewhat more effective manner, time imbue people with a capacity to that has the benefit of joining be passionate about driving change. markets. The reality is that we have The structural reading of the problem to be completely open to different often leads to a kind of paralysis, worlds. in part because the programmatic Latin America does great things in expressions that have been tied to their cities, which we don’t do very that have often run aground. There’s well. If one reflects with them on been this endless splintering off of their experiences, we’re in a sense various efforts and collectives. experiencing our future today. So, there seems to me to be Similarly with China and various something really profound at the core parts of Africa, including Southern of what you do. It presents the seeds Africa. A key question for us when we for a much larger re-theorisation examine trans-national experiences of structural change. It is about is if this is the place that we want to how to invent new institutions, go to. And, what can we learn from new categories, new concepts, new this process? classes of things, and, of course, EP: What’s been striking for me figure out how they network together being part of this experiment is and intersect. Is there a mechanism CITYSCAPES | 61
  7. 7. conversation “ of today’s within this methodology you’re adopting to build up the institution and embed it in society? In other concerned—traditional challenges like water, sanitation and housing, but also strategy and municipal finance. Most words, is this just about delivering We’re simultaneously testing the solutions are basically the vehicle to produce new people, integrated Masters in Urban Practice linked with today’s or are you also thinking about it, curriculum. crisis and tomorrow’s and building out the capacities to EP: Why don’t we go straight to some actually document and capture these of your thinking around the emergent opportunities. processes so that you can begin the south-south dialogue? In what way is process of re-theorising from these this south-south articulation different ” experiences? AR: I guess it’s all three of those things, but probably more of the first to earlier efforts at tri-continentalism, non-lateralism and so forth? AR: Well, I think the world is one. In a sense, we build the vehicle, changing quite quickly, and the and the vehicle has to be viable and new south-south dialogue is sustainable, physically, financially, different from the 1970s and 80s, institutionally and so on. We’ve because global geopolitics and the tried to be reflective as far as that is global economy has changed quite concerned. dramatically. We’re also attempting to be flexible. A big shift is the rise of China and History will only tell whether we a change in perspective from 20th have been adaptable enough, but century imperialism and its model mostly what we are trying to do is of hard boundaries. The Chinese reflect as much as we can. view of the world is not based on Our team currently is fairly small; classical western political theory. reflection does require redundancy Its perspective is less within the in terms of time and effort, which is Westphalian frame but much more difficult in early stage institutional civilizational—soft boundaries, zones development. of influence; a dynamic view of EP: I can see the point of really cultures and spatial and temporal building effective change agents, relationships between each other. but if those agents are restricted to a So, the shift from an Atlantic to a particular class and cultural category, Pacific-centric world-system which there’s a problem? partitioned Africa into planes and AR: There’s this absolutely huge straight lines—to a much more challenge of class capture, or capture nuanced kind of engagement. by a particular interest group. We It is not as if the United States come from a terrain in which will wither away as a great power. educational institutional capture is Its asymmetry as far as hard and the hobby of most political parties possibly economic power is going to and interest groups. What we will persist for a significant time. Early try to do to counter that is to reach as 21st century south-south engagement deep as we can across the country, needs to be seen in that context. into pockets of ‘disadvantage’ or those A range of engagements that advantaged with life experiences are building and how they will of struggle. Our success will be coalesce and work themselves out dependent on actually reaching out. is still unclear. If you look at the old EP: Can you give some sense of what dependency theories, Brazil, South kind of timeframe you are working Africa and India are somewhere in with? When do you start with your the ‘semi-periphery’. first intake of students? EP: What do you see as the main AR: We’re hopeful of initiating our difference between China and India’s master’s programme next year. This particular conception of itself and year, we’ve already started teaching approach to this kind of journey? a whole range of professionals and Because, presumably that will be students, via more than a dozen a fairly key variable in how this short courses that span quite a unfolds. range of questions as far as cities are62 | CITYSCAPES
  8. 8. conversationAR: To some extent India is still fairly regional socio-cultural diversity an understanding that in order tomessed up. We don’t really have a simultaneously. I guess that was part enable trade and physical movementvery clear sense, geopolitically, of of the project that was imagined, but of goods and services, you need towhere we are and where we may seems a long distance away for many establish infrastructures that allowbe going. We’re still moving out of parts of Southern Africa, at least. movement back and forth as partthe phase of looking at the rest of EP: It is interesting that in the last of the project. But I think the realSouth Asia as a ‘significant other’, while, this has probably been the most challenge is the movement of looking at other kinds of regional important Achilles heel of the African One big part of this intellectualand continental relationships. We’re Project, making the regional economic south-south project is trying tostill in our middle adolescence, so to blocks work. To even think beyond reconceptualise that. Sub-Saharanspeak. China has a much longer view that has been quite a challenge. But Africa is one place that could beof history. It is much more organised I think the penny is starting to drop, tested and have the most significantand a much older nation state, which both in terms of the cost implications, dividend, because of the history ofis difficult to compete with if you the infrastructure investments that how territory was defined leadingare primarily a soft power However, need to happen, and also the need to to genocide at the one end, andIndia’s resilience is something that coordinate in a much more efficient suboptimal economic outcomes andmay come into play as things become way across these geographies. development outcomes at the otherrather tough. AR: There is greater acceptance end.So, whether it’s the firms or it is civil now that, in some ways, there are EP: What is interesting is how thesociety, or it is individuals there’s a no effective barriers to the flow of kind of partial engagement of China,lot more flux and suppleness in India, capital and finance. Setting up a and to some extent India and otherpartially because the idea of India is global system to manage that is one Asian states wishing to accessa relatively new one. South Asia has of the most significant challenges particular resources, is underminingtypically absorbed and integrated in the international order. There is that to some extent.influences that have come to itfrom across the world. The ability toabsorb external forces and transformthem is a particular strength. I think URBAN SETTLEMENT GROWTH IN INDIA: 1991it is going to be a really importantcapacity as we move into a morefractured future. The fact also thatwe have, for better or for worse, a DEHLIfunctioning democracy at the scale of (8.2)a billion plus that has held togetherfor 65 years is really important.If I think historically, when theUnited Nations was founded in1945 it comprised 50 countries. Adecade later it doubled, because ofdecolonization and the retreat ofwestern imperialism. And so thenumber kept growing. By the fall of KOLKATAthe Berlin Wall in 1989, it numbered MUMBAI (10.9) (12.3)170 countries. I think the UN is about190 now. So there has been a trendof the creation of new nation statesand the breakdown of some largeagglomerations, especially the Soviet CHENNAIUnion. (5.3)But there are also large pockets ofexperimentation around nation-stateconsolidation, of which the largestis the European Union. One of thefundamental challenges there, ofcourse, is how do you assemble amulti-poplar, multi-cultural systemof scale, which is able to bring < 0.1 0.1-0.5 0.5-1 1-5 >5 MILLIONtogether the economy, politics and CITYSCAPES | 63
  9. 9. conversation “ Renaissance was a AR: Yes, absolutely. this? The socio-cultural environment EP: So, it seems until we get a is so different. Technology can play stronger cohort of forward-looking a very different role. Innovation is ‘The leaders across the continent, it’s happening all over the place. Is there good idea but maybe not going to be quite an uphill battle for a way of trying to aggregate and focus in our part of the world.’ Africa, going forward. this innovation and by doing that, AR: Absolutely. I think the core of transform the greater tradition itself? ” that is the political imagination EP: How do you translate this intent of what is possible with one’s into practice, particularly in terms resources, and the fact that Africa as of the institutional design of IIHS? a continent, and particular parts of Presumably, at a very concrete Africa are where the future is going to level, the qualifications to access unfold. That realisation has probably higher education will present a very not struck home so clearly. It is practical barrier to entry. because it hasn’t struck home that AR: Well, the opportunity of scaling accommodations are possible, and before us is quite substantial. India is alliances around interests are not so starting to universalise its elementary clearly organised. education and close to. 90 per cent or EP: I want to move in theme, Aro, to more of our young people up to grade this question around the relationship eight go to some form of school. In between academic research, advisory another five years, that will probably services and practice. Since this is be extended to secondary school. So something that’s fairly fundamental there are going to be a large number to the design of IIHS, could you of people who will come out of share some reflections on that? Is secondary school who will be looking there really a virtual circle, or are for a university education. This large we actually potentially setting up pool of people really presents an something that could undermine opportunity for the IIHS and India. the quality of scholarship or dilute The challenge is to move from an the strategic focus of advisory work? elitist view of knowledge creation to What are your views on this, and a more inclusive one. We are saying why have you decided to make it so something a little different from central in the design of the institute? top-of-the pyramid institutions: AR: It’s a tricky question. If you ‘Innovation is actually happening at look at it within a conventional tremendous scale at the middle of the institutional development frame, it’s system. The elites are useful but not a significant risk, partially because as effective or efficient as in a pre- there are bringing together people networked society.’ who often think quite differently. In a society that’s highly You’re setting yourself for a battle concentrated, both geographic and between those cultures and possibly temporarily, economies of scale setting yourself up to fail. But we are tend to dominate. But as you expand looking at a larger project. using network-based systems, that An older colleague paraphrased it becomes less important. Moving to by saying, ‘The Renaissance was the middle of that system is really a good idea but maybe not in our the place to go in terms of social part of the world.’ We don’t need to transformation a fundamental reproduce the social organisation of IIHS agenda. Our secondary western Atlantic institutions, which aims are economic and political came out of a particular tradition and transformation. history starting from the collapse of We’re trying to build a highly the Roman Empire through the Black inclusive institution that values Death to the Renaissance. One of the people’s life experience, both legacies of that development is the in terms of the curriculum and separation of practice and theory. We the learner engagement. What have somewhat different histories. might normally have counted as a One of the questions we are asking is disadvantage may actually becomes a how the 21st century will reconfigure significant advantage. We are looking64 | CITYSCAPES
  10. 10. INTERVIEW Edgar PieterseCITYSCAPES || 00CITYSCAPES 65
  11. 11. conversation for people who can learn fast and practice that can really engage learn effectively. We want to enable with the problems of clients? So, if other people to learn, because in a possible, some thoughts on that. world that’s changing so quickly, And then related to that. What is very the ability to learn is really a huge clear is that in the global structure comparative advantage. People from of the production of knowledge, an elite tradition of knowledge may 95 per cent, if not more, of what is not be the best people to actually take considered valid knowledge—work the processes forward. published in journals and books—still EP: Yes, thanks for that, you’ve emanates from northern universities. usefully explained the importance Clearly if one is going to shift that, of the access aspect. But on the it’s going to be important that other end of it, once you have your institutions like yours publish. There structures in place, your academics is certainly a school of thought that or your faculty, will these people we encounter in our context, that be expected to be able to go into an says, if you contaminate people with environment where they provide getting too close to the messy realities consultative or advisory services? of practice, it strips out the criticality How do you retain your criticality and they’re not able to produce high and autonomy while crafting a quality scholarship because they are “ want to train at URBAN SETTLEMENT GROWTH IN INDIA: 2011 We least 50,000 students over the next 30 years, which is the minimum DEHLI (16.9) we require to actually transform our system. ” AHMEDABAD KOLKATA MUMBAI (15.5) (20) HYDERABAD (6.7) BANGALORE CHENNAI (7.2) (7.5) < 0.1 0.1-0.5 0.5-1 1-5 >5 MILLION < 0.1 0.1-0.5 0.5-1 1-5 >5 MILLION66 | CITYSCAPES
  12. 12. conversationtoo immersed in the realities. AR: I’m not sure whether I’m aThe business of writing and very good example, but what anscholarship requires a very important thing is to be open todifferent kind of training. It is aboutdisposition and distance. You know “ multiple cultures from across the world, and to accept that everybodyall these arguments, and I know that I imagine that the web, is both a learner and a teacher.this has obviously featured in your Cultural engagement is a high formdesign processes, but what are your not the text web, but of exploration, something is deeplythoughts on all these questions? the oral web is going to embedded within South Asia. YouAR: I think they are very valid be a really important really have to know or try to engagearguments. It’s about distancing part of our own with yourself, your own cultures, andyourself in the classical subject- other cultures in their own terms,object orientation. You do have cultural experience and not in colonial or post-colonialto have a particular quality of scholarship. asymmetries or artificial dichotomies.preparation to be a good researcher EP: Yes, I see. And, if you will,and a good academic. The counterquestion is this: Is it not alsoimportant simultaneously to be able ” non-verbal or non-written texts will be a key part of how IIHS will transact, and how your pedagogy willto be a good pedagogue, researcher transact?and academic? We want to train atleast 50,000 students over the next30 years, which is the minimumwe require to actually transformour system. This is why we need a URBAN SETTLEMENT GROWTH IN INDIA: 2031markedly good set of teachers.While I agree with you that if youare overly embedded in institutionaland other contestations, you maylose your sense of criticality. The KANPURredefinition of rigorous subjectivity DEHLI (5.1) (24.4)even in the cutting edge sciences,some areas of physics and certainlyin the life sciences, are changing thisvery dramatically.We have very old living traditions AHMEDABADof knowledge in India, much older (8.5)than the beginnings of what weknow as western scholarship. It’s astrongly ‘scientific’ tradition, of using KOLKATAsubjectivity as a basis of criticality. (22.3)If the philosophical underpinnings MUMBAI (28.6)of your knowledge system areconnected with the challenges of HYDERABADeveryday life, there is no reason why (9.9)your science should not actuallyreflect that. The geography of scienceactually changes. I imagine we will BANGALORE CHENNAI (10.6) (11.1)see a rather different way of doingscience, and hence a rather differentdefinition of what is acceptable asgood science.EP: I want to turn to something alittle bit more personal. You straddlethese different domains, and you’vegot a keen interest in the arts,music and composition. How does < 0.1 0.1-0.5 0.5-1 1-5 >5 MILLIONthat translate into a south-southinstitutional project? CITYSCAPES | 67
  13. 13. conversation “ fundamental AR: I think it’s an important point, around what we call a raga. Multiple because one thing that we often musicians will come together, they forget about in India is that we are know what composition of the raga The largely an oral culture. I imagine that is, and they will create as they play—a challenge is to enable the web, not the text web, but the oral new composition will never be and draw out full human web is going to be a really important repeated again, both in time or space. beings. That’s the core part of our own cultural experience So it’s a little bit like our biology, the and scholarship. biology of the earth. No individual of the process, if you EP: What do you mean, the oral web, in a species will be repeated again don’t get that, then you I don’t understand? and we are all unique. Yet there is haven’t got very much. AR: There are large numbers of continuity and great harmony in the people who are not comfortable with music of life ” text or don’t actually read it, but as EP: That’s very helpful, and a processing of voice becomes much very nice metaphor also. One last more ubiquitous, it becomes easy to question, and a shift in register: You navigate around a knowledge system are offering a pilot course this year by just speaking. You don’t have on the ‘world class city’. We were to be ‘literate’ to have control over curious why you chose that theme, knowledge. given how bankrupt this idea is that EP: Interesting. Now, I raise this cities can be ‘world class’. It promotes question because part of what we a kind of simplistic mimicry that are trying to do with Cityscapes is reproduces political elites. Why did to implant the idea that different you choose that theme? registers of knowledge are equally AR: We chose that theme precisely important. It’s important to facilitate because it is bankrupt, and also a translation between these different because it tends to capture the formats. In that articulation we will imagination of local and global be able to build this new language elites. It followed in the wake of of innovation that’s required to deal the Commonwealth Games, which with the kind of really interesting were a little bit like the World Cup phenomena that are emerging at in South Africa, a grand event which present, but also to resolve some of was really the emperor’s new clothes the challenges that we’re engaging in Imax 3D. So the course worked with. Your thought? around that. We were building up AR: I think it’s important, you’re from professional experience, and reaching out to a very interesting using that as a means of trying to space. I think the fundamental enable a critical reflection on the thing that we’re all trying to do is to context in which we work. explore a postcolonial, transmodern We were also trying to challenge revisioning of humanism. The people to address some of fundamental challenge is to enable the complex issues that these and draw out full human beings. imaginations attempt to respond That’s the core of the process, if you to, using a simulated teaching case don’t get that, then you haven’t got to establish a new Global Financial very much. Added to that is a need to centre that will create one million integrate a whole range of different jobs with a capital investment of ways of knowing. Like you just said, $15 billion. This is an impossible Edgar, knowledge exists in multiple learning challenge to deal with, that registers. If you want to create a our learners had three days to work composition, you have to be able to on. They had to throw away all the bring them altogether. baggage of prior experience and In fact, a good example lies in the learn to work as an interdisciplinary difference between Indian and problem solving team to address this western classical music. The great challenge western compositions are put * together; they’re written to a score. Great Indian classical music is never written to a score; they are built68 | CITYSCAPES