As our plane came near the Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport, I gazed out of the mirror, desperate to get a great first view of my home country. What I saw was a plethora of buildings that extended to the horizon of my vision: Delhi. One of the most populated cities in the world, much less India.
View Print Publication
As our plane came near the Delhi Indira Gandhi International Airport, I gazed out of the mirror, desperate to get a great first view of my home country. What I saw was a plethora of buildings that extended to the horizon of my vision: Delhi. One of the most populated cities in the world, much less India. As our taxi driver took us to the domestic section of the airport, he pointed out all the construction projects and buildings of the area. A frequent traveller to New York City, I was not astounded by the buildings themselves, but by the conditions they were brought up in.
Later that day, we flew into my aunt’s home city: Pune. Once again, I was met with new buildings, broadened highways and extended city borders. On our way home, I was discussing with the long-serving driver regarding the changes he has seen in the city. He joked that the distance from Bombay to Pune has actually decreased in the past few years, simply because the cities have extended their borders so far and constructed so much to account for the influx of residential population.
Three days later, I went to my mom’s (and many of yours’) home city: Jaipur. My मामा (mom’s brother) was talking about the new buildings and the projects being developed in Jaipur for the increasing population. For the first time, I was able to formulate my wonderings into words. I curiously asked him: जगह कहां है? He didn’t answer.
According to the 2014 CIA World Factbook, the population of India is around 1.27 billion people. From that same source, the population of the United States is 318.9 million. That means that the population of India is about four times the population of America. It is accepted that the land mass of America is three times more than the land mass of India. So, with given statistics, India is 12 times more densely populated than America. As of two years ago. Think about that.
Once I reached Indore (my father’s and my home city), I became determined to find some answers. I endlessly questioned my दादी (grandma) and my नाना (grandpa) regarding the population problem in India. They gave me no substantial answer. In fact, I got some information from a different source altogether. While I was having coffee with some school friends--I lived in Indore for two years--I asked them the same question I asked my मामा. “जगह कहां है?” They responded with quite an interesting story they claimed was true:
“There was this farmer that lived and worked in the outskirts of Indore. He lived quite poorly, but he did own a lot of farmland. When news came that Indore was spreading its borders to include that farmland, people went crazy to try to get land. Developers and citizens paid so much money to get that land, that the farmer (amazingly) ended up with a Maserati in the garage of his new house.”
This seems like a trivial tale at first, but on deeper inspection the actions of the people and the developers really resonate the problem of the nation. There is definitely not enough space for the people living in the nation, especially in the cities. So when new land opportunities are opened up, people go crazy to try to buy them.
The last stop in my trip was a one-day stay Mumbai. It’s overcrowding problem is already well known, but to see it firsthand was a whole different story. The clogged roads, cramped apartments and overall feeling of constriction caused by the city was overwhelming. While dropping by my aunt’s house, I got an amazing (and quite telling) view of Mumbai. The blue-topped slums colony touched the city landscape as the wave touches the shore.
In the past decades, India’s population has grown exponentially. The rapid urbanization since independence and the lack of proper awareness has caused rampaging overpopulation. This is a problem that the Indian government must attempt to solve as soon as possible, otherwise there will be dire consequences.
However, for a schoolboy like myself, I resigned to nothing more than simply watching the situation unravel. My one month trip to India left me with great memories of food, friends and family, however my question still persists: जगह कहां है?