Guest Column


Cultural coordinates of the dynamic city

A majority of metropolitan cities with their complex activity pattern, especially in the developing countries, face similar problems. City development is unable to keep pace with physical growth causing lack of proper infrastructure. Slums surrounding fragmented pockets of prosperity and a large mass of young population unemployed or under employed and living in deplorable conditions, stratified in conflicting socio-cultural zones are posing a major threat to sustainability of these settlements.
A large and growing city is constantly in a state of flux and turmoil. This is often the result of a plethora of factors, most of them out of control of a single agency. New immigrants take time to assimilate in to the cultural cycle of a city.
Delhi, for instance, adds a population close to that of Ambala city in just one decade. It takes generations before a population is fully assimilated into the culture of the land and large cities seem to be running out of time.
As a result the cultural profile of the metropolis tends to move away from specific to highly generic – almost universal. The resistance to this qualitative change is proportional to the cultural tenacity of the city in focus.

Cultural plurality
For a metropolis inundated with new migrants by the thousands every day, cultural plurality is hard to be

developed and maintained. Leonie Sandercock, an urbanplanner and academic, who teaches at the School of Community & Regional Planning at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada, calls this phenomenon as the “emerging global disorder..” effecting every country in its own ways.
A city is a system. The inherent quality of a system is that the objects that constitute the system are linked with each other with an ‘input’ that gets processed and exits the ‘output’. Without processing there is no system.
The ‘processing’ no doubt refers mainly to the input – output of method and the quantum of the tangible resources, like air, water, energy and finance, but equally dependent on other intangible factors as collective emotions, memory, cultural experiences and ethnicity.
Planners are fast learning the lesson that ‘planning’ is not confined to working for government agencies or service providing institutions alone. In the race for survival today, every country needs to be technologically innovative and independent.
For poor and technologically backward countries, this is a real problem. Multiculturalism of the city can be a great motivating factor and contributor to attainment of higher levels of information technology.


As Charles Laundry, the UK-based author and urban planner wrote in 2000: “Competitiveness no longer lies in immobile, physical resources like coal, timber or gold but in highly mobile brain power and creativity.”

Global village
In a world which is fast becoming a global village, cities are also displaying disturbingly universal characteristics.
The dilemma facing developing countries, in a bid to house and employ the burgeoning population is that while on the one hand, technological innovations make it easy for them to resolve the problems, on the other hand they create a set of newer problems.

Polluted air due to motor vehicles, polluted water bodies due to industries, heaps of indestructible solid waste in urban areas are a familiar story. The more worrisome though less evident is the subtle erosion of cultural values due to a universal culture that inevitably flows through the channels of communications that are the fountainhead of information technology.

There is a very real and unique problem here. ‘World culture’ tends to sweep away the vernacular uniqueness of the indigenous culture. And paradoxically it is the indigenous culture that the global environment demands – as a highly sellable commodity.

The need, therefore is to balance the advance of cities into a global network while maintaining their local character.
So how do you prepare young planners to cope with a highly uncertain and dynamic future? Moreover, in a free market economy that limits free thinking in many ways, the most logical approach would be to equip them to be able to conceptualise the problem, break it in to handle-able issues and then address them keeping in mind the ‘particular’ approach involving the beneficiaries such that the solutions are not seen as alien or imposed but those that emanate from within the community.
This approach requires wisdom, tact and a lot of common sense.

Uday Mahurkar

Young India takes on doomsayers

The author of this month’s column is a renowned journalist and Senior Editor of India Today magazine. He writes about dramatic changes taking place on the economic front over the past three years



Notwithstanding the current phase of economic slowdown, temporarily brought by the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax and close on the heels of demonetisation, India is witnessing dramatic changes on the economic and industrial fronts, as new businesses are cropping up, offering a fascinating range of products and services to the growing middle-class consumers.
Interestingly, quite a few of these businesses are being launched by a new generation of entrepreneurs, many of whom belong to established business families. These young business professionals have acquired advanced degrees in engineering, the sciences and management from some of the most prestigious universities in the US and other western countries, yet chose to return to India and decided to launch new enterprises, or diversify their family empires.

The cover story in the current issue of Urban Vaastu – which is incidentally celebrating its 3rd anniversary – highlights the amazing transformation that this new generation of entrepreneurs is bringing about in their own family empires, and also in the world of Indian business.

If Reliance Jio is a creation of an Ambani kid, old Gujarati corporate families are also witnessing exciting changes as in the case of both the sons of veteran textile magnate Sanjay Lalbhai who have brought innovation into their family’s business profile by their entrepreneurship.
The Narendra Modi Government on the other hand is only complementing this new entrepreneurial environment by its good governance moves at the top level.

Entrepreunership and growth of business at least in India is also dependent on the infrastructure – physical, social and health. The Modi Government is just doing that by piloting a quantum leap in physical infrastructure like roads, railways, ports and airports and power plants.
Thanks to the government’s emphasis on transparency, business lobbying and the middle men culture have been virtually eliminated, thus creating a level playing field for businessmen angling for government-related work, particularly in the infrastructure sector.
That India has climbed 73 places in the world list of Ease of Doing Business from 99th to the 26th spot is an indication enough of the changing environment.

Samara Mahindra

Holistic therapies for cancer patients

HAILING from the famous Mahindra business family, Samara launched a business venture a few years ago. But about seven years ago, after her mother succumbed to cancer, she got deeply involved in introducing complementary therapies of healing and recovery to patients.

A certified Cancer Exercise Specialist and Breast Cancer Recovery Trainer, she is also a qualified personal fitness trainer from the American Academy of Personal Training, New York; Holistic Health Coach from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition; and certified in Plant Based Nutrition from Cornell University and the T. Colin Campbell Foundation.

Samara is also certified as a Holistic Cancer Coach from, Center for Advancement in Cancer Education. She focuses on the CARER Program that she launched.


The CARER Program was born from a personal encounter with cancer in which I first hand witnessed the lack of required services and care in the space of cancer treatment and healing.
Seven years later and today CARER is India’s first and only company to provide holistic therapies for cancer patients and survivors in the

comfort of their home. The CARER Program is complementary to the mainstream treatment and gives the person treated a fighting chance to heal and survive both in body and mind.
While mainstream treatment targets the physical symptoms of the disease, CARER digs deep down into the root cause

of why it happened in the first place.
The integration of these two is now looking to manage side effects of treatment better, increase the effectiveness of treatment, strengthen immunity and put patients and survivors on the right path to decreasing chances of relapse.


CARER has created the programme based on four fundamental approaches to healing: Diet and nutrition intervention; physical rehabilitation and detoxification through Yoga therapy; mental health and emotional well-being with meditation and coaching; and counseling for patients and family members.

The services are for all types of cancers, ages and stages along with pre and post treatment. CARER provides a personalised programme and a set protocol. In the personalised programme our specialists provide their services and build the healing protocol according to the client’s condition, case, lifestyle and convenience.
The Complete CARER Program, however, is a set protocol that can also be opted for. These programmes, whether personalised or set have been curated by cancer specialists in the field, to provide the best and most optimal chance of healing and survival.
One of the fundamental protocols is diet and nutrition intervention. We look to boost immunity through targeted highly nutrient dense foods and detoxify the system. This is imperative while going through treatment or recovering from cancer.
Immunity is the key and the nutrition protocol makes sure the collateral damage is minimal from the toxic treatment and in turn provides the right nutritional intake for the rejuvenation and repair of damaged cells.
CARER only works with medically trained clinical nutritionists who are well versed to deal with chronic ailments.


Immunity is the key and the nutrition protocol makes sure the collateral damage is minimal from the toxic treatment and in turn provides the right nutritional intake for the rejuvenation and repair of damaged cells.

The diet plans are personalised according to the type of cancer, medical reports and health history, treatment protocol, patient background, lifestyle and condition. The personalised diet plans help in removing toxins and strengthens the body after treatment.

Although we come from a land of yoga, CARER only looks to work with yoga therapists who deal with chronic ailments, training them further in the CARER protocol for cancer. CARER yoga therapists are able to analyse the physical condition of the patient and curate sessions that are best suited for their physical state. Each and every session is different and personalised to the case.
Yoga therapy for cancer provided by CARER looks to increase immunity, manage fatigue, detoxify the body and build and strengthen muscles.

A lot of attention is put towards deep breathing and managing the mind, as yoga is a mind-body practice,
Cancer is one illness that not only affects the body but has major implications on the mind as well. A cancer patient or survivor has many issues that he or she needs to encounter and deal with on a mental and emotional level. Any elevated levels of stress, anxiety, depression, fears and so on is not recommended when healing from cancer and can have a bigger negative impact than anything else.
Encountering these emotions is inevitable and therefore the right approach in managing it better and in a more productive way is imperative.
CARER looks to provide meditation sessions with each one of the patients onboard and works only with an organisation called Heartfulness Organization, in which the trainers even train doctors.

Patients are guided through a meditation that instills deep relaxation and as a result heals the body and mind.

They are better equipped to deal with stressful situations. Mediations also help in balancing the body internally, calming the mind and body and are specific to each type of cancer.
A part of the emotional and mental healing for a cancer patient, CARER involves the patient and family members into speaking with coaches, who help balance mental and emotional trauma; this is focused on both the patient and the caretaker.
Coaches guide the patient in managing stress, decreasing fear, helping in living a quality life, setting goals, bringing positivity into themselves and being overall support system to the patient and family.

Hardik Shah

Digital Learning Education beyond boundaries

Our guest columnist, the director of Mumbai-based E-Class Education Systems Ltd, dwells on how technology-enabled learning impacts the education sector by transcending boundaries

BY: Hardik Shah

The role of technology has been pervasive; therefore, its impact on something as prevalent as the education sector cannot be, and should not be, underestimated. There are many benefits of technology-enabled education and the biggest of all, how [IT] cuts its way through to reach people in India and even our nation’s remote corners, is something to watch out for.

The strong connection between the smartphone-led internet growth and the entrepreneurship sprout in India is slowly reshaping the education segment in tier 2 and tier 3 cities. Technology has a tremendous capacity and ability to change the very base and means of education. Yet ‘how much’ or the total impact of technology on education is something which needs to be accurately gauged.
Still, this is time to look at the BIG positives first.

With increased Internet penetration amid a surge in smartphone ownership, the online education industry in India is poised to hit $1.96 billion by 2021, a joint report by Google and KPMG titled ‘Online Education in India: 2021’ published in May 2017 says.
Few online ventures have expressed interest in amalgamating the immense potential of education and technology. And not without a reason, for there exists a great scope of improvement in the small cities of India. A mini-metro or a small city is keen to adapt to the technology way of life and start-ups are pouncing on the opportunity to help them learn and contribute to the robust growth of our economy.

Right from supplementing education at the school and college level, with a greater conceptualisation of the school curriculum like specific chapters or pull-outs of different subjects by creating video tutorials, to making a futuristic investment in digital classrooms such as starting private schools in the rural areas and pass on the computing knowledge, many start-ups in India are working towards giving digital education a compact shape and a more structured outlook.

Together, they are investing in building digital content to complement the existing system of education at different levels.

There are many organisations helping students prepare more effectively for competitive entrance tests like JEE, NEET, Cat, IAS and GMAT as well.

Further development is happening in education-based technology, keeping in mind the Indian economic scenario and the reasons to influence a change in the present system of education.

For example, the need to bridge the knowledge-skill gap to make the Indian workforce ready for corporate scenario 2.0 is being routed through digital learning.

Such courses like the online certified courses in digital marketing are to equip the modern workforce with the smart knowledge and operating training, in the shortest possible time.


If you think people in tier 2 and tier 3 cities don’t need digital marketing education then think again. Vernacularisation of digital content has been happening for some time now. It perfectly complements the need of working professionals to upgrade the allied knowledge they need by benefiting qualitatively and statistically.
Another notable trend is the development of technology itself; we are emphasising on the development of the back-end tech tools which aid the front channel tech growth and hence, bestows further benefits to its users.
Developing new technologies like the installation of big data and artificial intelligence by digital learning companies or online education vendors is helping them focus better on their target audience. In other words, these set of companies are able to design customised content in a more systematic manner.

An extension of the biggest benefit of digital education in tier 2 and tier 3 cities is accessibility, and it is applicable in the context of quality and quantity.


By quality we mean providing access to enough study material, textbooks, new formats of studying like video tutorials and much more, giving a new perspective of education to the students.
In addition to this form of accessibility, education-enabled technology also makes education

Developing new technologies like the installation of big data and artificial intelligence by digital learning companies or online education vendors is helping them focus better on their target audience. In other words, these set of companies are able to design customised content in a more systematic manner.

more affordable. You, as a student, no longer need to invest in expensive books and have a choice to buy material which exactly meets your requirement.

Depending upon the time you need to invest, you can download a chapter or buy a relevant book at discounted prices online

According to the same report of Google and KPMG, there has been a two-fold increase in online searches for education and a three-fold growth in searches from a mobile device over the last two years.

Even though the present scenario of internet and smartphone penetration broadens the opportunity window for digital learning and education,
there is still more to be done at the ground level; the biggest impediment being the quality of internet in rural areas.

Aside from supplementing the existing systems of education, the bigger change, which is making an on-ground impact of getting more children in the [quality education] framework, is an ideal road map to deliver the change with time.

However, pressing concerns like the growth of education sector as a whole at present; poor infrastructure facilities like electricity; lack of technology facilities similar to those available in the urban areas or even the awareness of it, are some serious roadblocks.
A bigger concern is the lack of skills of teachers to use digital classrooms.The benefits of education-based technology are immense. It is only after students and teachers will embrace it willingly, and begin the process of increase in digital enrollment, adding more awareness that, the real change will happen.


Tremendous change in club culture

This month’s guest columnist is owner of Ahmedabad-based golf and country club, Gulmohar Greens. He writes about the changing profile of club culture in India


If you look back about 30 years ago, clubs were seen as places of taboo and meant for gambling. They were looked at as places where only people from high society would use it for their entertainment and where gambling would be widespread.


Today, club culture has undergone tremendous change, not just in Ahmedabad, but across India. They are looked at more from the recreational point of view, as a networking point where you could go out and meet like-minded people.
Clubs are seen as places for young families who could use the facilities to improve their fitness, where young children learn swimming, tennis, badminton, squash or billiards.
A lot of young parents and middle-aged families have become highly motivated about fitness. Our parents or grandparents were not as fit as today’s 40-year-olds.


Golf is the talk of the town in a lot of social circles because it is one sport which can be played by all. It is a game which you can play with your friends while you talk.

Earlier, when one was over a certain age, the person was expected to take medication for diabetes, blood pressure and cholesterol. However, things have changed and today people are increasingly conscious about being healthy and fitness conscious.
To a great extent this is where all these clubs come into the picture. The best gyms are available with the best equipment and trainers, who are there to ensure that their members get the best facilities.
Way back in 2005 when we were conceptualising Gulmohar Greens, we wanted to bring golf to Ahmedabad. And we were the first to do so. The only golf facility was the Army Golf Club which was not accessible for all. There were other clubs in the making, but still not ready, when we came up.
Even after 12 years, we are the closest golf course to the city. When we decided to do up the facilities, our main idea was to create something for young families in Ahmedabad. That’s how Gulmohar

Greens came into being – as a place to recreate, meet like-minded people, and a weekend getaway. Gen X is who we cater to.
The first thing we thought of was establishing a sports complex as an independent facility. Many other clubs in Ahmedabad never thought of giving enough importance to sporting facilities. At Gulmohar our main focus was sports.
Golf is the talk of the town in a lot of social circles because it is one sport which can be played by all. It is a game which you can play with your friends while you talk; so it also added up in the form where lot of business started happening apart from general socialising.
A lot of deals are cracked on the golf course. It has slowly converted from an elite to a common man’s sport. The city now recognises it as ‘reachable’.
Another transition from sports is that people look for clubs for weddings and social gatherings. Clubs are a major hit with corporate annual events and product launches too.

In a resort ambience, five star facilities at competitive prices is working well with them.

As a club, we can offer them much more than what any five-star hotel could.
The whole image of what a club used to be – from a room filled with smoke and a lot of kind of people to a sophisticated property with multiple activities available – has been a brilliant transition.
Going to clubs is now a pleasurable activity and they can cater to every audience. From a 3-year-old toddler who wishes to play in a sand pit to an 80-year-old who wishes to read in the library, there is something for everyone.
The movie watching experience is redefined with private theatres too.
These days, clubs have been able to carve out a niche segment for themselves in the hospitality industry and have become one of the ideal places for everyone to go to.

Vibha Kagzi

Studying abroad Gordian Knot for Indian students

WITH an MBA from the Harvard Business School and a Bachelor of Science from Carnegie Mellon University, she has also done courses at the University of California, Berkeley; the London School of Economics; and the Indian School of Business. The professional experience of our guest columnist spans finance, fashion, media and public relations. She has also worked in New York in asset management, helped establish a California-based hedge fund in India and is the founder and CEO of

By Vibha Kagzi

Studying abroad is like setting out on a voyage that holds many treasures to be discovered, but also throws up challenges. It is exciting when you think of the opportunities and unnerving when you consider the preparation.


The trick lies in effectively channelising your enthusiasm. The better prepared you are, the more confident you’ll feel and that will enhance your chances of success.

Here’s a snapshot of what you need to do before you embark on this journey:


Start early: Getting ready to study abroad starts long before you actually start filling the forms or board your flight.

Ideally your preparation should start three to four years prior to application to give you ample time to conduct your research, do your homework, build the appropriate profile, arrange your finances, and collate all the pertinent information

Build a holistic profile: Do not only focus on your academic achievements as universities abroad look at a number of characteristics when assessing you for admission.

For example, they value feats in non-scholastic areas like sports, music and dance, and evaluate your professional experience, leadership skills and community involvement.

You want to project yourself as a well-rounded individual who’s equally competent in studies as well as other areas

Gather all the required documents: With stress levels high and deadlines around the corner, it’s easy to forget an important document.

Generally, the standard application requirements are:
Application forms
Application Fees
Letter(s) of Recommendation(s)
Essay(s) or Statement of Purpose
Standardised Test Scores
Financial Aid/Proof of Funds (if required)
Interview Appointment (if required)

Studying abroad opens new doors as you are exposed to a broader world. You’ll be part of a world-class academic institution, interact with people from various corners of the world, attend lectures from Nobel laureates and industry stalwarts and more.

Studying abroad opens new doors as you are exposed to a broader world. You’ll be part of a world-class academic institution, interact with people from various corners of the world, attend lectures from Nobel laureates and industry stalwarts and more. The opportunities for personal and professional growth are incredible as you will:

Build a global network:From classmates to professors, on campus peers to internship mentors, you’ll have a wide periphery of acquaintances and close friends. You’ll have a broad base of international connections at such an early stage in your career. Your network will always provide you with updates from across the world, act as your point of reference, offer you valuable and specific guidance. It will also be a significant resource for amplifying your career prospects. You can seek partners or investors if you are on an entrepreneurial mission or have avid followers if you are spearheading a campaign.
Enhance job prospects: Employers across the world, in any job market, are looking for candidates with international exposure, a global mindset, cross-cultural awareness, greater collaborative skill and language proficiency. A study abroad experience will equip you with all these skills. At the job front, you’ll have an edge over others. When it comes to handling business on a global scale, recruiters would love to have someone who has been there and done that. Well, that would make you the perfect fit.

Boost your soft skills: The more exposure you get, the more evolved is your personality. And that’s where study abroad plays a significant role. It enhances your social skills by offering you a dynamic platform where you are constantly interacting, collaborating with eminent personalities and sharp minds. It is the ambience that works like magic in polishing your ability to communicate, co-habit, adapt and lead.

Where there are opportunities, there will be challenges. For study abroad, the challenge lies at the beginning of the journey. Your decision about choosing the right destination, college, course and a realistic programme will have a considerable impact on your overall experience abroad. Learn about the problems and their solutions.
Major/degree selection: Do not rush into a decision, or be baffled by the overwhelming number of options. Consider your interest, strengths and weaknesses, your academic inclination and passion. Keep in view what your goal and purpose are for choosing a certain stream. Avoid selecting a course because of the university. Rather, let the subject guide your decision in this regard.

College selection: Which colleges should I consider? Have at least six to eight institutions on your list of colleges and know them thoroughly from courses to faculty, extra-curricular facilities to scholarships. Start by scouring their websites for latest updates and developments.

Also connect with alumni and current students, seek guidance from your family and friends, attend college fairs in your city, take professional advice and if possible visit the campus.

Do not base your decision on rankings alone. With all relevant details, you’ll certainly secure a place in your dream college.

Financing: How do I arrange for sufficient funds? This area calls for a great deal of planning, so plan your finances early. Understand what your budget for an education abroad is, factoring in all the costs from tuition to room and board to transportation.

resources you can tap:
Personal finances: seek support from family, relatives and friends
Scholarships: understand what financial aid options your targeted colleges have. Usually foreign universities have special allowances for meritorious students as well as for those who need financial assistance.
Bank loans (if required): review the various loan options that different banks are offering, compare and take your decision.

Start early, do your due diligence, review, rework wherever necessary, but keep your cool. You can only work out if you are relaxed and composed. Approach every step meticulously, keep an open mind and you’ll have a smooth sail. All the best!