East London?!

For a couple years now, Mamata Banerjee has been peddling the vision of Calcutta as the next London. Not only does Calcutta have a lot of the same historic architecture, but it also has some of the same street names. However, I always assumed she meant “LONDON” – and that this vision was a proclamation that Calcutta could be so much more. I agree with this notion. A thorough cleaning, renovation of it’s cultural icons, and maybe a rebranding to make people forget that horrid images that are in their head of what Calcutta used to be.

Wrong.

Apparently, they want to copy and paste London, starting with the London Eye. Creating a riverside park is a solid idea, and I hope they get some talented designers (ahem) involved, but the London Calcutta Eye? That doesn’t even crack the Top 10 of “Great Things about London.” My hope is this is just a brainstorming session and they’ll soon move on to better ideas that more appropriate to India and specific to the unique Calcutta landscape, but I’m more than a little nervous this was a directive – “Make this happen.”

Indians have long had a love affair with the copy and paste functionality of our integrated world, but it seems with the economy booming, we have an opportunity to create something wholly original, something that others might want to copy… instead of just erecting a giant ferris wheel and closing the book on city planning.