- How are Indian Cities coping with the Advent of the ''Information Technology Culture?''   click here to open paper content16 kb
by    Prothi, Nupur & Prothi, Amit & Khanna, Sameer | prothi@del2.vsnl.net.in   click here to send an email to the auther(s) of this paper
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Abstract sent by fax and inserted by ISoCaRP Information Technology finds its way to India!! '' The information society is on its way. A digital revolution is triggering structural changes comparable to last century's industrial revolution, with correspondingly high economic stakes. The process cannot be stopped and will lead eventually to a knowledge based economy.''or so believe some thinkers. Through this paper I need to find answers to questions that have already begun plaguing the Urban Planners in India and are borne out of the current trends of a multi cultural society being taken over by the fervour of Information technology. ''Digital technology now symbolises where the world culture is heading.'' Reports produced in the G7 nations ''express…that digital technology will continue its rapid growth and penetration of all spheres of life, that it will help economic growth, that communication networks are its most distinct manifestation and that these will be a positive force in maintaining democratic regulation of societies.''2 What is the transformation that is taking place in the socio-cultural values in some of the metropolises in the country and further what are its manifestations in the fields of Spatial Planning? Some studies show that '' …some ways in which digital technology will influence urban living-…. may be modest in the short term .In the longer term there may well be a change in the way cities are inhabited and designed.''. It may be worthwhile to trace this process of change or metamorphosis of the India city as a result of the advent of the Information Society through the study of the stages of its transformation. The changing urban forms of Delhi (Gurgaon), Hyderabad and Bangalore offer this opportunity with Bangalore having been exposed to the maximum changes. Each of these cities have a distinct cultural identity in three geographically distinct zones (Two being in the south and one in the North of the country) with their own sense of place. What is interesting here is that the uniform nature of pressures of being part of an Information age has resulted in each of these cities moving towards an 'extended urban form'. Some thinkers feel that ''such trends (increasing influence of ICT) do not herald the demise of large cities, they do often have clear implications for urban form. Through their support for 'extended complexity 'over worldwide systems of cities, ……… linkages tend to facilitate the development of 'extended urban regions ', rather than traditional compact cities. With their polycentric 'constellations' of centres, distributed across large areas , such urban regions are becoming the norm.'' Does this lead to a presupposition that cities far removed in space and physical and socio-cultural context, in the IT age, will end up with similar urban form? How can one anticipate their rate and direction of change? Can equality be achieved through the technological revolution and do the resulting Utopian cities and urban planning concepts hold merit in reality? ''…..(technological empowerment) extends……..urban services into more distant hinterlands. It allows for action at a distance and remote control from cities, allowing them to extend their domination over more and more distant places. This is especially important given the intense uncetaininties , thrown up by the volatility, velocity and unpredictability of the global economy.'' ''Radical democratic ideal of an Information Society popularised by utopian visions may turn out to be a myth. Urban societies are becoming more unequal , not less unequal at the intra urban, inter urban and international scales. …………….these inequalities influence the ability of people to participate in any meaningful fashion within increasingly information based societies.'' Is Real space giving way to virtual space? Are Physical Planners to be replaced by Space Managers/Space Technologists? What are the envisaged methods of spatial organisationin the future? What is the form of the urban settlements in the Indian cities of the future? ''……..the 'time-space choreography' of everyday life is no longer confined to urban physical spaces. …… (in some) cities, it seems, that public space, where a range of different social groups interact, are being lost. Replacing such spaces are secure, privatised consumer spaces (malls), a growth of electronic communications from fortified homes (in secure enclave communities)….homes could become dissociated from neighbourhoods and cities and still not be lonely isolated places..such trends towards cocooning are being encouraged by growing fear of crime and incursion...'' ''The Urban environment is now being simulated in virtual space. Design techniques based on digital technology are bringing the built and the images of the unbuilt closer together in space and time.The future arrives earlier than it used to and with it comes the danger………..in a process of virtualisation, the simulacra that pour from screens are becoming the reality of social and political life………the power of the simulacrum and the dangers created when society cannot contain the forces created by technology. Being involved with development and construction projects in each of the three cities -Banglore ( project entails campus planning for a reputed IT Companyin the outskirts of the city), Hyderabad and Delhi it is observed that the IT processes and demands have had a direct bearing on the planning and design brief for each project. In each of the above mentioned cities the changing urban form and the rate of change requires immediate attention on the part of Physical Planners in order to plan for what is to come. With enclaves emerging on the periphery of these cities to cater to the needs of this IT boom there is an interdependency of the roles enacted by the physical planner and the IT Manager/Professional. With newer and more complicated questions emerging before the Physical Planner this may just be heralding a period where imagination may be considered as the only limitation.
'' The information society is on its way. A digital revolution is triggering structural changes comparable to last century’s industrial revolution, with correspondingly high economic stakes. The process cannot be stopped and will lead eventually to a knowledge based economy'' or so believe some thinkers. IT has, in the last five odd years, completely revolutionised the fields of communication in the world and in India it has changed the way of life.

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