Salman Rushdie: Contemporary Critical Perspectives
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Sir George Buchanan, the consulting engineer grossly underestimated the time and the money that would be required for the project and the architect W. Davidge conceptualized a grand utopia for the affluent, which would have no realistic impact upon the housing problems of the city.
Prakash also refers to the heroic legal battles of the patriotic barrister K. However, this debacle did not stop the colonial government to take up the building up of the city along the sea with renewed enthusiasm in the ensuing decades of the nineteen thirties; and the iconic Marine Drive with its plush neighbourhoods of Art Deco architecture was mostly constructed at that point of time.
Additionally, the postcolonial government did not fare any better in the concerns of public interest as this stage of the Backbay reclamation, like its earlier counterpart, also met with charges of fraudulent activities, massive corruption and staggering inefficiencies.
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The lucrative unreclaimed plots of Marine Drive, which were named ironically by the government as Nariman Point, were sold without tenders by the government to private builders and real estate developers, which resulted in many underhand dealings including selling of the expensive plots at a rate much lower than their market value. Naik, the then chief-minister, had to resign because of the scandal. However, the final Backbay reclamation had restructured the shoreline of Bombay yet again as the high rises of the Cuffe Parade and the Nariman Point were constructed in this phase.
The episode of Dr. The eccentric gynaecologist, Dr.
Ahmed Sinai taken in by the grandiose vision of the doctor, invests heavily but too cautiously in Dr. On one hand, Rushdie focuses upon the rational, scientific utopian vision of Dr. Narlikar, who considers the futuristic tetrapodes as the solution to the problems of unplanned population growth in the city. His adamant belief in the marvels of the new technology makes him invest the tetrapodes with the compensatory procreative potentials lacking in Ahmed Sinai at that point in the narrative.
However, Dr. Narliker reacts violently, and is caught by the language marchers and hurled in to the ocean along with his tetrapodes. But, what Dr. Narliker fails to achieve is accomplished by the Narlikar women, who later extend their sprawling business empire to the real estate sector, owning the high rises of Malabar Hills on the reclaimed land, which replaces the quaint villas of Methwold Estate. Alluding to the scandalous corruption of the Backbay reclamation project in the seventies, K. They also flout the rules regarding the maximum height of construction in the area through bribery and declare inhabitants who have come to live in the city after the last census illegal, cancelling literally their right to the city, which in effect means generating a labour force of poor migrants ready to work in the construction sites for meagre wages.
Although, this particular aspect of the criminalizing of capital predates the open market economy of India, ushered in the early nineties; but reinforces the tradition and the legacy of corruption concerning large scale real estate investments in India that only becomes more attuned to global forms of transactions manifested in the new-age and high tech deceptions embedded in the work-culture and business ethics of Adam Zogoiby, the younger, adopted son of Abraham Zogoiby in the novel. Therefore, unsurprisingly Rushdie, in this novel, fleshes out his concerns regarding the land-reclamation very clearly.
The description is eloquent:.
The long process of levelling and the reclamation was almost complete. The villas, promenade and mangrove forest was long gone, and the sea had retreated before the power of the great machines. An immense brown expanse of land stretched before us, an almost blank slate upon which history was only just beginning to write. The huge dusty space was broken up, articulated by metal fencing, and large signs forbidding various activities, and the concrete and steel foundations of the first tall buildings; also pile drivers, stream-rollers, trucks, wheel-barrows, cranes The Satanic Verses does not have any specific reference to the land-reclamation.
Salman Rushdie - Wikipedia
In the nineteen eighties, a bungalow amidst the vertical skyline of Scandal point, a neighbourhood near Marine Drive, would naturally be an immensely coveted property for the real-estate developers. In that case, the abovementioned enterprising moments of urban growth and development of Bombay needs to be seen through the lenses of nation-building rather than through the discourse of globality, largely dominated by the rise of decentralized, dematerialized, performative capital, and as this essay aims to show its ability to simultaneously homogenize and fragment unique, local cultures and places.
But in The Ground Beneath Her Feet , Rushdie coalesces both these villainous forces in the figure of Piloo Doodhwala, recognizing that they are the two sides of the same coin. Bombay suffered from a grisly communal riot in after the demolition of Babri Masjid in Ayodhya by Hindu fundamentalist forces; and endured subsequent serial blasts seen as retaliation to the riots by the predominantly Muslim underworld.
Henri Hulot, identifies the enemy, who not only initiates the near divorce between his parents but also the divorce between Rai and his beloved Bombay — Piloo Doodhwala. In its first step of registering itself as a global post metropolis, Bombay is getting efficient, mechanized, and imbibing the unhappy conditions of monotony and the boredom of the placelessness of our times albeit in the peculiar context of the global south, which Appadurai sums up very well:.
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