Affairs

Urbanism

Past life— Kolkata

Preface

The West Bengali city is at a crossroads. On the one hand Kolkata wants to re-establish the look and feel of its Raj glory days. On the other, it wants to brand itself as a contemporary culture and business gateway open to the east.

Bengal, Glory, India, Innovation, Raj, West

With its wide tree-lined streets flanked by gracefully deteriorating colonial-era architecture, the eastern Indian city of Kolkata evokes intense memories of another part of the world that is at once close and far away: London.

Kolkata is like a sub-continental, Dickensian otherworld. The city’s old buildings have crenellated façades pockmarked by patches of peeling paint. There are Victorian fountains, the rambling Alipore Zoo and roundabouts. Indeed, city planners conceived Calcutta – as it was then known – as a kind of mini London. The city was…

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