Photo of the Day: Little Kids, Big Loads

There were a whole lot of kids hauling stuff on my street today.

They seemed a lot better-natured about their chores than I was when it was my turn to mow the lawn.

I think some of it probably crossed the line into child labor, which is illegal.

There are an estimated 200,000 kids in Bangalore working anyway. The government has a program to “rescue” working kids and put them in school. The programs are residential, because otherwise the kids don’t make it to class much.

Funny, that.

 

Okay, so it’s not exactly laying in front of the bulldozers. . .

. . . but hiring private security guards to patrol the streets to prevent illegal construction is kind of bourgeoise-guerrilla in its own way.

The construction in question is a “signal-free corridor” (in American English, “big-ass highway”), which the Bangalore Development Authority is trying to build through Koramangala. Here’s the deal: Bangalore was not build for cars and Lo, the Lord hath sent a plague of Tatas and Suzukis raining down on the People of Karnataka. Private vehicle registrations has nearly tripled in the last decade. The BDA’s response has been straight-no-chaser Urban Renewal:  highways, overpasses, underpasses, and road-widening. It’s hugely controversial, and usually the BDA wins. But then the irresistible force of the BDA ran into the immovable object of the Koramangalan Pissed-Off Neighbors.

Koramangala is the Bangalore equivalent of, say, West Hollywood. The Koramangalans moved to their hood for a certain je ne sais quoi. Je really don’t sais quoi, since it looks a lot like the rest of Bangalore in terms of urban form, but with more Taco Bell and KFC.  In any case, it’s not what most Americans would picture as a suburb, where highways are not out of place. In Koramangala, the main roads are 4- to 6-lane arterials with stores and stoplights, hustle and bustle. Did I mention the KFC?

The Koramangalans answered the signal-free corridor with a lawsuit challenging the procedure by which the project was approved. They got a restraining order, which the BDA proceeded to ignore. Enter security guards. Next: Occupy Koramangala?

The fashionable narrative about the whole hullabaloo is that the opponents of signal-free corridors are enemies of Progress, selfishly standing in the way everyone else’s automobile dreams. But they are raising important arguments in favor of multi mobility: that if you widen the roads enough for everyone to drive, there won’t be many buildings left standing for them to want to drive to.