|Wikimedia: Gurgaon, India|
India’s population is still growing and urbanizing with 10 million people moving into the metros each year, it is expected to be one of the largest migrations in the world. There are also a large number of people moving out of poverty and will soon have access to all of the trappings of a high energy consuming, middle class life.
|Source: Photo: Gideon Mendel/Corbis/ActionAid|
It is in our control to design buildings to be slim so as to bring in light and ventilation. We can be frugal with the amount of glass on the façade and ensure that we shade and insulate them. Through technologies such as heat pumps, we can generate hot-water at one end and cooling on the other. Can we bring back openable windows in our offices so that during the day when it is pleasant outside, people can open them? Can we reinstall ceiling fans in our work space for when it is less pleasant so that even when turned on, an AC need not take all the load?
|Image courtesy of Ashok B Lall Architects: Mahindra Life Spaces brings affordable housing scheme to serve urban households with environmentally secure and healthy shelter|
There are some signs that this may be happening already. D Suresh’s house in Chennai satisfies all his needs- from growing food, using solar power, harvesting rain and generating gas for cooking using a domestic biogas plant. Dinesh Pagaria’s house in Bangalore not only uses on-site solar power and battery banks to run the home but also used solar for the actual construction of the house. Odanthurai village in rural Tamil Nadu is trying to ensure that 8000 homes will receive electricity from wind and solar energy farms by leveraging the community's collective savings to obtain a bank loan to be energy independent. Gandhi believed that his basic message would only have its main impact many years after his own death.
Had Gandhi lived in the 21st Century, he most likely would have accepted the benefits of urbanisation and the concept of the global economy, all the while expecting that we maintained our dignity and self-reliance by disrupting the ‘western’ status quo to benefit India and in turn the world Could Gandhian values offer an idealogy for a more sustainable India that may be emulated as a movement for change globally?