Post Wrap-Up | Mudita Pasari, MA’17, Art + Design Education
It has been a couple of days post wrap up and I am already out of Guwahati. As I walk this stage between starting a new project and making sure the book I created during the Maharam reaches production, I share a few observations about the city and the impact a project such as this might have in the current scenario.
To understand the current rate of change in the city one must know that it has been recently estimated that the population of the city has grown atleast by 50% in the past 5 years. The recently conducted census is estimated to project a population of atleast 1.5 million in the city as compared to a little below 1 million, 5 years ago. This rate of change becomes more alarming when we realize that the infrastructure of the city has remained more or else constant. Whatever built infrastructure is being added/ adapted, the rate of change is no where close to the required amount.
To understand life in Guwahati, one must also know that this is the largest city in North Eastern India. A lot of people move to the city in the hope for better education or job prospects. These changes seem to have escalated recently that ever before, or they may just have reached the visual breaking point of the city’s capacity. Seemingly small changes like the recent introduction of 2 different application run cab services, have taken a toll on the city life. While local people seem annoyed by this increase in traffic, few seem to notice the overall drop in biodiversity within the city.
The city is definitely chalked to grow further over the next few years. Considered as a Tier 2 city, the government is pushing towards local development and wants to introduce Guwahati as a Smart City (a recent initiative of the central government) in the coming years. A commendable effort, which hopes to introduce smart grids, solar power systems and much more. But does this development come at a cost of the natural environment, which still is very rich in flora and fauna. Admirably the local authorities are really keen to help protect the biodiversity in and around Guwahati, and hence a willing and interested audience for my Maharam project. The intention is to aim at striking a balance without hindering either development or natural environmental proliferation.
The first step towards conservation is awareness and mobilization of the locals, as any conservation effort can be effective only through their willingness to contribute and co-operate. My project hopes to create this awareness and interaction between the locals and the local biodiversity. If we are successful in finding ourselves some more advocates we would have hopefully contributed to a larger movement.
Although, I have moved out of Guwahati for now, my project has only just begun. We have been lucky in having gathered interest from a couple of local authority figures. Two of which, who seem very promising are the District Commissioner and the Managing Director at the Assam Tourism Development Corporation. We are in the process of sharing a proposal for the production of around 5000 pieces to be distributed in schools and made available in other sectors of the city. On another positive note, we may have found someone to carry out our production, as the last prototype (made by a local book binder in Guwahati) felt like we were almost there in quality.
While I plan to be back in Guwahati for a couple of days sometime next month, my supervisor Mr. Purkayastha, has taken charge of the on-ground production trials and costing spree. In the meantime, I am gathering possibilities of production in a couple of other cities as well, just in case we need backups with better skill and resources.
For the purpose of introducing an image in my long rambling about the project, here is a visual of a limited version super tiny book Biodiversity 360 (1 inch square) I made as joke for people who immediately wanted their hands on a copy of the book.
As I wrap up this post, I hope to be back with the news of a successful production.
Until then, I move into other projects with my fingers crossed.