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Deutsche Bank Urban Age Award given to two city projects which transform the lives of Mumbai's citizens

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The winners of the first Deutsche Bank Urban Age Award (DBUA) have been announced at the Urban Age India conference| in Mumbai, India, 1 to 3 November 2007.

The winners were announced by Dr Josef Ackermann, CEO of Deutsche Bank, in the presence of the German Chancellor, Dr Angela Merkel. The announcement follows a unanimous decision by an international jury. The award of $100,000 will be split between two high level projects: the Triratana Prerana Mandal initiative and the Mumbai Waterfronts Development Centre, with a special Commendation for the Urban Design Research Institute's Fort Management Project.

In scope, quality, and quantity, the submissions to the jury exceeded expectations for the award, the first of its kind. 74 applications were received from organisations working in the slums and the historic districts, from government and non-governmental organisations, from groups working with children and women.

The jury wanted to recognise that there is no single 'magic bullet' for the city's problems. Cities as complex as Mumbai need a simultaneity of approaches to function successfully. In governance, in delivery of services, in approaches to housing, in conservation, Mumbaikars high and low are coming together to face the urgent issues confronting the city. And in this most democratic and accommodating of cities, their solutions are as heterogeneous as the population.

Triratana Prerana Mandal (TPM) was the only one of the 74 applications received that was written in Hindi. The language is indicative of the nature of the project and its organisers: this is an initiative that is truly a son of the soil. It was established in 2002 by a group of people from the Milan shantytown. It runs out of a community centre built above a public toilet. TPM has established alliances with a range of organisations such as the BMC, Sterlite Foundation Computer Institute Collaboration, Milan Subway Speeds Area Locality Management Group etc. It uses these alliances to make life better at the simplest level for the residents of the area. Toilets are built and maintained. Trees are planted and waste composted. English and computer classes are offered. And all of this is done under the leadership of the residents of the settlement. It is a striking example of the poor helping themselves, and gives the lie to the stereotypical depiction of slum dwellers as helpless or indolent victims. It shows what can be done when a coherent action plan is developed that tackles multiple, ground-level issues of physical and social infrastructure - and ensures that the solutions all work together. TPM's example can and should be replicated not just in other areas of Mumbai, but also in the slums of other mega cities like Sao Paolo or Lagos.

'This began in Santacruz,' said Dayanand Jadhav, TPM's founder, 'but we would like it to be a model for Bombay and the rest of the world.'

The Mumbai Waterfronts Development Centre was an initiative begun by people at the other end of Bombay's socioeconomic scale; it was the brainchild of a group of citizens living near the sea in Bandra. Their quest was simple: they wanted to be able to take a walk by the sea, unimpeded by hawkers, buildings, or debris. And so they organised a coalition of citizens who came from the skyscrapers and the slums, to create a promenade by the sea. And today, couples can stroll hand in hand in the sunset; laborers in the cramped workshops of the central city can breathe the sea air; and children have space to run for seven unobstructed kilometers - all in the same space. The project shows the uses that Bombay, and cities like Bombay, can make of their waterfronts. With the immense pressures of population and construction, we sometimes forget that Bombay is a beautiful city by the sea. The waterfront project reminds us of our proximity to the ocean, and celebrates this island-state of hope.

In the constantly shifting metropolis, we also forget or overlook our beginnings. Starting in 1994, UDRI has been engaged in a continuous, often uphill, struggle to preserve the city's collective memory. Its efforts to preserve the historic Fort district involved a careful mapping of the district, its physical structure, its population flows, and then working with government officials and other NGO's to successfully lobby for the first urban preservation legislation in the country. UDRI is the premier urban think-tank in the country; it performs the invaluable task of providing a vision for the future of Mumbai. It gets the whole city excited about this vision, as it engages ordinary citizens as well as legislators, and dramatically improves the physical quality of the city's oldest and most beloved landmarks, such as the Oval Maidan and the Kala Ghoda precinct. Urban Age commends UDRI's work in preserving our beloved Bombay, and providing a roadmap for Mumbai, the city of possibilities.

Ends

Contact: Priya Shankar Ute Weiland, 9899172719, Priya.shankar@db.com| or pshankar6@gmail.com| 

Notes:

The Deutsche Bank Urban Age Award (DBUA) was established in 2007 to encourage citizens to take initiatives to improve their cities. It is a traveling award organized in parallel with the Urban Age Project, a joint initiative of the London School of Economics and Deutsche Bank's Alfred Herrhausen Society. In 2008, the award will be located in Sao Paulo, Brazil

The Deutsche Bank Urban Age Award Presentation will be followed by the Urban Age India Conference| on 2 and 3 November. Attendance by invitation only.

Members of the jury for the first DBUA Award are:

  • Ricky Burdett, centennial professor in architecture and urbanism, London School of Economics (Chair)
  • Anthony Williams, former mayor, Washington DC
  • Shabana Azmi, actor and social activist
  • Suketu Mehta, author and associate professor, New York University
  • Rahul Mehrotra, architect and associate professor, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Enrique Norten, architect and professor, University of Pennsylvania - Indian NGOs is the online media partner for the award.

Press cuttings

Digital Journal
Merkel meets minorities on last day in India (1 Nov 07)
German Chancellor Angela Merkel plans to give a speech on urbanisation in developing countries and award a 100,000 dollar prize from Deutsche Bank Urban Age Award to honour projects that benefit communities and local residents by improving their urban environments. The award which will be given to a project based in the Mumbai metropolitan area, coincides with the Urban Age India conference in the city, jointly organized by the Deutsche Bank's Alfred Herrhausen Society and the London School of Economics and Political Science.
http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/244499/Merkel_meets_minorities_on_last_day_in_india| 

1 November 2007

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