Monday, December 19, 2016

Problems of Urban Life

Modern urban life has produced entirely a new environment, a new standard of life and a quite changed circumstance with the new inputs of technology. It has created lots of new problems which were quite unknown to the people of yesterday. As the world today is changing rapidly, more rapidly than most of us can imagine or are at least prepared for. Till recently men lived in village communities, and their culture, mode of living food and social organizations were adjusted to their surroundings. Modern urban life has created new problems of adaptation. Small old cities expanded in their jurisdiction and accommodated vast surrounding areas. The glamour of urban areas attracted people from rural areas in large numbers. Comparatively inadequate development of villages pushed the unemployed people in large numbers to cities in search of work, students for better opportunities of education and businessman to expand their business and finding better markets of their goods. Unfortunately most modern cities gew haphazardly as the effects of living in huge cities were not fully anticipated and the social, economic and psychological consequences of industrialization were not fully considered; and the steps which should have been taken to bring about an adjustment between man and his new environment have not been forthcoming in ample measure.
Much has so far been said and written against urbanization. The critics of urban civilization regard it as a social decay. They deplore its artificiality, its sophistication, intellectualism and loss instinctive activity, its denial of family life and blood ties, its loss of vitality and the will to live manifested in the decline in birth rate and in the high rate of suicides. They also point to the growing evils of urbanization Juvenile delinquency, prostitution, addiction to alcohol and drugs of the most injurious kind, slums, crimes and suicides. To crown this all, the critics of urban life, point to the loss of moral values and deteriorating sense of brotherhood among the people living there. There is no biological or sociological evidence to support the theory of decay. Most of the evils to which the critics of urban civilization draw attention, are not inherent in it, but are the result of a lack of social planning and foresight and also the wide exposure to western culture as a result of improved communication links in the form of cable T.V. and easy access to the advanced life styles of westernization. 
Rapid urbanization has created a very large number of highly complex problems, particularly in underdeveloped or developing counties. The most noticeable evil associated with over-urbanization is marked deterioration in the environment of the cities and the appearance of slums. The cities in developing counties have become overcrowded as a result of migration of people from the countryside and small towns over decades and natural increase in population. As a result of unplanned industrialization, the employers in the cities are not bound by law to build horses and provide all civil facilities to their employees as a result, the workers who are not well-paid, are driven by necessity to living on footpath or in slums under most intolerable conditions as they along with petty tradesman is not able to pay high rents which a housing entrepreneur expects. In the new industrial towns which are springing up, there is not problem of slum clearance which is so acute in our big cities like Mumbai, Chennai and Delhi. Slums are a disgrace to the community. They are unfit for human habitation. All kinds of people learning their bread by dubious means--- beggars, prostitutes, pick-pockets and thieves, chronic drunkards, vagabonds, and the like come to live in slums. Since the poor peoples’ do not generally have any notions of hygienic and sanitary conditions of living, the slums, often single-room tenements degenerate into something even worse. They breed all kinds of epidemics.
Consequent upon industrialization in developing counties, urbanization, besides creating slums, has also denied to a large section of people even elementary civic amenities---pure drinking water, electricity, proper drainage system, hospitals and well-built and well-run schools and pucca roads. Over-crowding has become a serious problem as large additional population is bound to complicate matters. Good medical facilities, day-to-day requirements of life, proper schooling and the like, have become very expensive and only the upper crust of people are able to afford for them. The masses including the middle class are only able to maintain themselves upto the level of subsistence and the things of comfort have become things of luxury for them. The educated youth, in spite of having good education and professional knowledge cannot stand the competition and are usually an exploited lot at the hands of affluent industrialists and company owners.
Another vital problem created by urbanization is that of the pollution of environment Pollution is the direct outcome of fast urbanization. Unplanned expansion of urban areas has put crowds huddled together in areas where the roads cannot bear the load and the haphazard industrialization has put industrial units scattered inside residential colonies. All these things have increased pollution. The number of vehicles on roads is rapidly increasing, so are the sources of noise and water pollution. Thus, the urban people bear the brunt. Very few planned urban areas, where the highways are very wide and the roads run through green areas and the industial areas are quite away from the residential colonies and also strict rules and regulations are observed for development of new areas for residential colonies, the problem of pollution is not intense, the cities like Delhi, Mumbai, and Chennai are worst examples of pollution the atmosphere to the extent that human life is put to great risks. Man has learnt to turn deserts into fertile lands, harness the forces of nature for his benefit, add immensely to production in all spheres so that the rapidly growing population may be well-fed well-clothed, well-entertained and well-provided withal sorts of luxuries and comforts and overcome the gravitational pull of the earth and conquer space, but has not learnt to life in peace with nature and preserve the balance has not learnt to live in peace with nature and preserve the balance which has made life possible and given it such richness. The air is being polluted by all kinds of poisonous gases and fumes from being polluted by all kinds of poisonous gases and fumes from industrial plants and automobile exhausts. It is estimated that 60 per cent of the air pollution in American Cities, is cause by motor-cars. Scientists predict most Disastrous consequences for the human race if the atmosphere continues to be fouled. Chemical wastes contaminate rivers and seas and poison drinking water and fish. India has not yet reached that degree of industrialization which would pose a serious threat to the environment but he danger signals have appeared. This does not mean that we have to stop applying science and technology to production and remain content with old methods, but we have clearly to recognize the dangers inherent in unplanned industrialization and take sufficient measures to stop the increasing industries pollute the environment. how foolish it would be to rudely disturb the delicate balance which nature has struck to make life possible and support it.
The world is presently passing through a period of acute international anarchy. The big powers are piling up huge piles of thermonuclear weapons and other engineers of vast destruction. It is possible that the instinct of self-preservation prevail upon these suicidal tendencies and these weapons are destroyed, but the possibility cannot be ruled out that these dangerous weapons are used in consequence of some instant circumstance and the nations will have to face catastrophic consequences of their folly. The counties which are highly urbanized and which have millions of men, women and children living in cities are more valuable than those in which people live mostly in villages and small towns, where industrial production is highly decentralized. The defenses of a country are very much handicapped when the armed forces are to consider the safety of people living in metropolitan cities with high concentration of population and industry. The big stakes in war will have to be exchanged keeping in view the safety of the urban areas.
Keeping in view the circumstances that prevail in big cities in underdeveloped counties, along with further development of urban surrounding areas, some steps are necessary to be taken for the decentralization of urban areas. Since the main motive for migration to already thickly populated urban areas is economic, the most effective way to discourage them is to make the economy of the villages and small towns fully viable. The Government can undertake a massive program for rural development so that the economy of villages is fully vitalized. Improvement of Agriculture, setting up of small industrial units along with the facilities for good education, hospitals and recreation and full employment for villages and small  towns can be achieved with a full-fledged development plan in a matter of a fixed period of time as the populations does not exceed the facilities which nature has provided there. If all the resources, available in villages are tapped properly and in a phased manner, the thing which seems impossible can be achieved very soon. The surplus rural labor can be absorbed in villages themselves or in neighboring towns where there is no over-crowding and the civic amenities are ample. Mahatma Gandhi quite held that we should be able to make villages self-sufficient and autonomous as far as possible. The developing nations have fallen completely under the spell of western civilization and technology and mode of large-scale production through huge industries, forgetting the fact that they do not suit the developing economies with vast expanding population. The result is before us. The urban areas are madly expanding despite all hazards of urbanization and the rural masses continue to live in sub-standard, below poverty standards with very little or no hope of any ray of development reaching to them.
No-doubt, the village economy is undergoing rapid development and conditions are being created in which rural pursuits will become viable, but also so rapidly is population expanding and so readily are our well-to-do agriculturists taking to agricultural machines and electric power that there is little possibility of rural unemployment being reduced to any appreciable extent except through migration to towns and cities. Towns and cities are centers of trade and commerce. Factories employing thousands of works are set up in them. It is in cities and towns that courts and universities and colleges are established, films are produced, newspapers are published, radio stations are built, government offices employing thousands of men and women function, restaurant and hotels are started and thousands of persons cater to the tastes of men and women in fashion. Men of taste who patronize works of art, lawyers, doctors, teachers, artists and other intellectuals live in metropolitan or other big cities. Ambitious men determined to make their mark in life make towns and cities the seat of their activity. Migration from towns to villages is insignificant partly because those who are used to the amenities of urban life are reluctant, despite attractive government offers to induce educated classes to go back to villages, to settle in the induce educated classes to go back to village, to settle in the countryside where civic amenities and modes of entertainment are of a very limited character. Migrations to cities have been vastly a very limited character.  Migrations to cities have been vastly facilitated by the rapid means of transportation. Traders move from small towns to big cities because the urban people have greater purchasing capacity and consequently provide more opportunities purchasing capacity and consequently provide more opportunities for making big profits. Delhi is today the most densely populated city in the country because of the influx of refugees, large-scale expansion of central bureaucracy, the establishment of new factories, diversion of wholesale trade from neighbouring towns, and the fact that sis the seat of government and Parliament.
Thus the need for the government and municipal corporations becomes paramount to realize their responsibility to ease the situation prevailing in big cities. They cannot allow themselves to be overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problem involved. There is no warrant for the belief that urban life is unhealthy, unnatural and harmful, that the people in villages live longer, are free from ailments common among city folk and life more naturally. The fact that urbanization is accompanied by various evils and involves certain undesirable consequences down not establishes that they are inherent in it. It only emphasizes man’s inability to plan his life intelligently and create an environment congenial to him. The objection is not to urbanization but to indiscriminate expansion of city boundaries and overcrowding. Unfortunately, in underdeveloped counties, municipal corporations and town planners cannot raise enough money to satisfy all the requirements of expanding cities. The State cannot compulsorily acquire land under the slum dwellings and bulk healthy, well-built, spacious houses for the poor on subsidized rents. There need not be any legal or constitutional difficulties in the way of compulsory eviction of land, illegally occupied by elements. The urban areas should be places full of all the modern amenities including well-ventilated and well-built houses, parks and gardens, schools and hospitals, not only for the affluent few but for the poor as well, then only there will be an equitable distribution of nature’s bounty.


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