This bookexamines the politics behind, and the socio-economic and ecological repercussions of, the making of a new township, variously called New Town, Megacity or Jyoti Basu Nagar, in Rajarhat near Kolkata. Conceived by the West Bengal state government in the mid-1990s, in pandering to the vision of urban planners of creating a hi-tech town beyond an unruly, crowded Kolkata, and feeding the hunger of realtors and developers, the city is built on the foundations of coercive, even violent, land acquisition, state largesse and corruption — and at the cost of erasing a self-sufficient subsistence economy and despoiling a fragile environment. Yet, after its completion and departure of construction labour, the new town appears as a necropolis, a ghost city, that belies its promised image of an urban utopia, even as the displaced locals lead a precarious, mobile existence as ‘transit labour’, engaged in odd and informal jobs.
Written on the basis of intensive fieldwork, government documents, court records, and chronicles of public protests, this book broadly analyses the politics and economics of urbanisation in the age of post-colonial capitalism, particularly the paradoxical combination of neoliberal and primitive modes of capital accumulation upon which the global emergence of ‘new towns’ is based.
Departing from the dominant styles of urban studies that focus on cultural or spatial analysis of cities, the authors show the links between changes in space, technology, political economy, class composition, and forms of urban politics which give concrete shape to a city. It will immensely interest those in sociology, political science, economics, development studies, urban studies, policy and governance studies, and history.
List of Plates. List of Maps and Tables. List of Abbreviations. Preface. Acknowledgements 1. Where is Rajarhat? 2. Destruction of a World 3. Losers and Gainers 4. Urban Legends of Consent 5. Logistics and Nightmares 6. New Town, New Labour 7. The Global and National Histories of Rajarhat 8. Politics of the Multitude 9. Concluding Reflections. Glossary. Bibliography. About the Authors. Index
This series introduces a holistic approach to studying cities, the urban experience, and its imaginations. It assesses what is distinctive of the urban phenomenon in India, as also delineates the characteristic uniqueness of particular cities as they embrace change and create ways of experiencing modernities.
Taking an interdisciplinary route, the series evaluates the many facets of urbanisation and city formation, and explores the challenges faced in relation to regional, national and global processes.
The books in this series present the changing trends in macro and micro urban processes; the nature of demographic patterns of migration and natural growth therein; spatial reorganisation and segregation in urban areas; uneven economic development of manufacturing and services in cities; unequal access to power in the context of formal citizenship; increasing everyday violence and declining organised protest; breakdown of urban family life in juxtaposition with the reconstitution of community. They will trace how new forms of socialities are replacing old forms of trust and solidarity, and how these are being institutionalised in distinct and diverse ways within South Asia.