First things first: League magazine, on behalf of the whole of Ahmedabad, congratulates The Gujarat Institute of Housing & Estate Developers (GIHED) on embarking on a project as inspiring as ‘Brand Ahmedabad: Target 2020’. All the personalities, from varied faculties, associated with the project give hope to the initiative being a sustained movement, and not a one-off event.
It is initiatives like these that inspire the locals and make people elsewhere curious. Now it remains to be seen how far and fast things move. Here’s wishing everyone associated with the project a huge success.
Heartbreakingly enough, history has showed that such efforts aimed at improving upon both the infrastructure and the image of a city basically works only with the sections that either choose to or have to interact with the place of action – in this case Ahmedabad. For the rest of the world, all the marketing exercises of an inspired civic group of a city remain just that, marketing exercise by an inspired civic group.
Have you heard of a place named Sao Carlos? No, it is not a typo; it should not have been Sao Paulo. Well, Sao Carlos is one of the better cities of this world. This Brazilian town has cobbled, one-way streets across most of it; has fantastic weather; lovely, friendly people; all the functional and technological supplies for a comfortable life; low crime rate and a life standard comparable to the best of western Europe. Ahmedabad, with due regret and respect – whichever applicable – has decades to go before it can reach anywhere near that.
Fortunately, for good or otherwise, more people in this world (outside the respective countries) would have heard of Ahmedabad than Sao Carlos. Why? Simply because the Brazilian city too hasn’t had a reason to turn the world’s eyes towards it. Add to that the fact that Ahmedabad has got more to it than a mere semblance of perfection! Historians, architects, social scientists, scientists, marketing professionals and artists all have a stake in our city.
Tianamen Square has long been a symbol of China’s authoritarian polity. But come 2008 and it would be a showcase place for the economic giant. Don’t be surprised if the burying ground of many young dreams doubles up as a once-in-a-lifetime experience for young athletes from across the globe. Time to take a leaf out of it?
So what’s the point? The point is a pretty linear one. All those flyovers, tree-plantations, clean air and better transportation that we are talking big of, may not catapult Ahmedabad into big-ticket league of cities like NY or London – even if our quality of life becomes at par with the two. There are many cities across the globe, like Vancouver, with better quality of life than the two mentioned anyway.
As an extension of the thought, it would be pertinent to add here that authorities in Mumbai often talk of converting their city into Shanghai – that one city that has catapulted itself into the A-league cities by the sheer weight of its ‘shock & awe’-ish infrastructure. However, because of the various socio-politico-economic and cultural constraints, India probably will never have that kind of infrastructure. Hence, in all probability, Mumbai has chosen a faulty destination. It should actually have chosen another Chinese city; for a different reason at that. The city is Beijing and the reason is the 2008 Summer Olympics. The authoritarian Chinese government is using the world’s biggest event to not only spruce up its infrastructure but also to instill a sense of pride amongst the Chinese and an improved image of the country in the rest of the world.
And that’s what Ahmedabad should be aiming at. Someone at the GIHED event had mentioned of the city being ready to host Asian Games in a couple of years (the reason behind the spunk in the voice is the soon-to-be-built mega sports complex near Khokhra). A single block of civilisation cannot be trusted to offer that kind of ability; but the thought is finally moving in the right direction. Beginning with Asian Games and eventually leading up to Olympics, some day, should be the aim. And if we all begin now, there is no reason why we can’t realise the dream. Then, Ahmedabad would need no other brand event.