A lot has been written about the vanishing public spaces from big cities of India. Concerns have been raised about the unavailability of pedestrian spaces, encroached footpaths and sidewalks, issues of safety of women and their access to public spaces — all of which gnaw at the very core of urban existence.In this narrative of public space and the city,we conveniently forget many other categories of citizensand forget to talk about their right to access public space including public transport.These include people with disabilities,
senior citizens, and children.
In this blog, I specifically draw your attention to children who are increasingly compromising on one of the fundamentals of childhood- play.Just because there are no playgrounds in neighborhoods and residential societies in big cities. It is therefore not uncommon to find children resort to cycling on the terrace, play badminton in the building lobby and cricket on railway tracks. Each of these situations compromises on their safety and robs them of the childhood they are entitled to.
In an insightful piece in the Hindustan Times, dated 11 February 2018, journalists Jayati Bhola and Anesha George highlight some of these issues backed with evidence from cities like Mumbai, Kolkata, Bengaluru and Delhi. Against the World Health Organization’s recommended minimum of 9 square metres per person and a developed world standard of 20 square metres, cities like Mumbai has just about 0.88 square metres and Bangalore has 6.4 square metres. Nobody is asking for expensive theme parks. Just a few open maidans (playgounds), walking tracks and few benches