Environment Support Group ®

S-3, Rajashree Apartments, 18/57, 1st Main Road, S. R. K. Gardens,

Jayanagar, Bannerghatta Road, Bangalore 560 041. INDIA

Telefax: 91-80-6341977/6531339 Fax: 91-80-6918051 (PP)

Email: esg@bgl.vsnl.net.in Website: http://www.altindia.net/esg/index.htm 



Environment Support Group and the International Honors Programme

“Cities in the 21st Century” India Programme


21st February 2002


Environment Support Group (ESG) in association with Arunodaya Poirada of Hospet has over the past month organised a very unique academic programme involving 36 students and faculty from some of the best universities in the United States.  The learning community has lived in the cities of Chennai and Bangalore for about a month now, including with host families, in appreciating the dynamics of Indian cities as part of the “Cities in the 21st Century” course of the International Honors Programme, offered in collaboration with Bard College, Boston, USA.


Now in its fourth year, the International Honors Program (IHP) on Cities in the 21st Century combines an innovative urban studies academic curriculum with field experiences and interactions.  As part of the programme, students travel to cities in India, Brazil and South Africa and ESG is collaborating with IHP for the India segment of the programme.  The overall goal of the “Cities in the 21st Century” programme is to learn how to “read” a city.  The programme ends in Boston, when students present their findings and recommendations to a panel selected from a number of urban academics, activists, and planners.


ESG and Arunodaya Poirada are independent, non-profit, non-governmental organisations involved in research, training, campaign support, and advocacy on a variety of environmental, social, rural development and economic justice issues.  Together the organizations are pleased to have the opportunity to coordinate the India Programme of “Cities in the 21st Century” and sought to expose students to several aspects of life in Bangalore and Chennai.  In order to gain a holistic view of life in Bangalore, students have been exposed to various sections of society, from Bangalore’s IT sector, to urban slums and, villages around Bangalore and Mysore. 


IHP students and faculty met with top executives at Wipro and Sasken, two leading IT companies based in Bangalore and discussed their corporate visions, human resource practices, community work programmes and marketing strategies.  The organisers appreciated the time spent by both companies in presenting and discussing Bangalore’s IT sector with the IHP learning community.  The programme exposed them to the living conditions in Lakshman Rao Nagar slum, in contrasting with the lifestyles enjoyed in National Games Township and Koramangala.  


The highlight of the programme for students appears to have been the 2 days and 2 nights spent in various villages near Bangalore and Mysore.  Students stayed in Ravugudlu, Kokarebelur and Mahadevapura, the aim being to interact with villagers and gain a small sense of rural life around Bangalore and Mysore.  They also wanted to gain an understanding of how massive infrastructure projects such as the Bangalore Mysore Infrastructure Corridor Project (BMICP) affect rural areas and those whose livelihoods are linked intricately with the land.  The group staying in Mahadevapura in particular, discussed the BMICP issue in great detail with villagers as 50% of the families in this village are likely to lose their land. 


Apart from field trips where they gained first-hand experience, students have been interacting with leading professionals, discussing issues such as women’s rights and human rights, Chennai’s and Bangalore’s heritage, the history of urban planning in the two cities, current Government agenda items such as the BMICP, the nexus between Government and industry, industrial toxic waste dumping, and urban solid and effluent management.


Such interactions have, it is hoped, provided an appreciation of the environmental limits to Chennai’s and Bangalore’s growth, what makes cities work, how policy decisions are made and in whose interest, and how the various aspects of city systems function separately and as an integrated whole. 


For more details about the programme please visit IHP’s website — www.ihp.edu




Leo F. Saldanha          Prof. Dave Johnson                Bhargavi Rao, Jason Fernandes, Nagini Prasad

Coordinator                 For Faculty – IHP                                Programme Facilitators


“Cities in the 21st Century” India Programme