WC City
WC City: The idea of a world-class city has been around since the time of Sheila Dikshit. But the 15 years of Congress governance tried desperately to use the label in various half-baked ideas: an expanding sector of luxury homes with private builders, even as there was a shortfall in public housing; an official recognition of slums, but without any slum improvement; a Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) system adapted from Bogotá, but left incomplete; expensive public buses which then caught fire; CNG fuel that left the city the most polluted in the world; appalling standards of personal safety, and crimes against women. The final cherry on the cake was the Commonwealth Games that had the official stamp of world class, but with corruption and poor standards of construction, left Delhi beleaguered and officially recognised the world over as a Third World city.  © Gautam Bhatia
WC City
WC City: How this is likely to change, if the BJP comes to power, remains to be seen, but the Kiran Bedi campaign has happily added Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s prefix ‘smart’ to the ‘world class’ tag, and cited a series of very obvious points from the manual of good governance. These include “100 per cent transparency, unimpeachable integrity, maximum measurability (aren’t they all the same?), constant dialogue with stakeholders, zero tolerance for corruption, and deriving maximum benefit in all key elements.” While all these phrases sound good, they could as easily apply to company policy or even marriage vows. © Gautam Bhatia
"Gated Community", W.C. City
"Gated Community", W.C. City: Delhi’s dual and disparate demands hanker for a place that is both a functioning city and a world-class city all at once. It is like asking a street urchin to be clean and also Harvard-educated. Which should he do first? So the city remains standing in the wings, waiting first to eradicate its slums, gain access to more electricity and water, to adequate sanitation and fuel, and improve its health to begin functioning as an ordinary Third World city. But at the same time its ambition soars and it seeks comparisons to Shanghai and New York. Delhi is a functioning slum for 70 per cent of its population, with isolated pockets of superficial cosmopolitanism — two extremes that effectively deny the other’s right to exist. It is an impossible reconciliation. Without a vision, the reality looks bleak. © Gautam Bhatia