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China diary: A Bangalorean in awe

China diary: A Bangalorean in awe T J S George | June 04, 2008 The speed at which China is transforming itself is not just impressive; it is scary. Can such massive cities come up in the twinkling of an eye? Can such elaborate infrastructure be put in place in a jiffy? What is the engine that drives this frenetic pace of progress? Is there a target such an engine cannot achieve if it wants to? When I visited Shanghai less than 10 years ago, Pudong was a sprawling marshland which had just been drained to make the soil ready for construction activities. The first high-rise hotel was coming up and a landmark TV tower was rising. Today Pudong is a marvel of modernity, a glittering financial and corporate centre with facilities and institutions bigger and better than the best in the world. A fairyland kind of suspension bridge, for example, is the most spectacular link across the Huangpu river that used to separate Pudong from Shanghai. There are several other bridges, several ferry services and several state-of-the-art underwater tunnels that make that separation a thing of the past. Consider the road system. Shanghai was a notoriously congested city -- a tangled web like central Mumbai. It was impossible to untangle it. But the authorities found a way: Put an elevated road system over the city's "ground floor". Today an overhead network of crisscrossing flyovers make it possible to go from point A to point B without traffic lights. From the centre of Pudong I drove for 36 kilometres before the car was stopped --by a tollgate. This determination to do what is necessary -- and do it quickly and efficiently -- is what is helping China catch up with lost time. They do everything on the grand scale, planning for a hundred years ahead. The new Pudong international airport will be good enough for virtually a century. It is about 40 kilometres from the city and the magnetic levitation train covers the distance in eight minutes. Compare that with Bangalore's agonising access problems over the new airport. There is nothing that China has achieved which others cannot. The difference is that China has the national will to achieve it, and the leadership to turn that will into action. We may say that the authoritarian system facilitates quick execution of plans unlike in a democracy. Is that an argument we want to push when authoritarianism is so palpably constructive as it is proving in China, and democracy so chaotic as it has become in India? Perhaps the key lies elsewhere. Aldous Huxley provided an insight as far back as in 1926. Talking about 'the dense, rank, richly clotted life' of Shanghai, he wrote: 'Each individual Chinaman has more vitality, you feel, than each individual Indian or European, and the social organism composed of these individuals is therefore more intensely alive than the social organism in India or the West.' In other words, whether it is Communism or capitalism, the Chinese have a national character that tends to give them an edge over others. Image: Pudong international airport is about 40 kilometres from the city and the magnetic levitation train covers the distance in eight minutes. Photograph: Mark Ralston/AFP/Getty Images T J S George lived as a journalist in Hongkong through the 1960s and 1970s. Now a Bangalore resident, he last visited China in 2000. ------------------------------- I have been to Beijing couple of times and can certainly say that China is atleast 10-12 years ahead of India in terms of infrastructure development.
ssheragu's picture

very interesting to read

very interesting to read about China transformation

if not all we can start adoptng these in Bangalore & India one by one

to start with the establishment of mag lev transportation to BIA should not be a difficult task; this can be done in one year; we praja members can identify a big piece of land in the center of the city with lot of parking space; this can be the boarding station for the mag lev train; simultaneously we can also identify a track / route up to the Bangalore aiprort passing tthrough some beautiful areas of the city & the lush green country side. while acquiring land for the train pasage we should ensure that sufficient land on either side of the trak to be acquired so that the greenery & aesthetics around the track is under control & custody (THERE SHOULD NOT BE ONE BUT TWO (2) TRACKS FOR MAG LEV TRAINS BOTH WAYS)

detailed planning can be worked out if we generally agree upon this and obtain government permission for the same.


Srinath Heragu

sanchitnis's picture

Re: shanghai Maglev train

While it sounds terrific, the ridership is still about 20%

"Maglev ridership has been below expectations, due to limited operating hours, the short line, the high price of the tickets and the inconvenient location of the Longyang Road terminus in Pudong. There is significant local criticism that the project was showy and wasteful, delivering no practical benefit to residents" (from: ).

The problem is worse for our Kolkots ghost train which carries 30 passagers per day!

SO whether it is China or India, meticulous planning with considering all apsect is the key - not the grandness of the project.

Naveen's picture

Maglev - Not An Answer


I agree, Sanchitnis.

The city is struggling to find economical & suitable means to transport people from place to place, including the City-BIAL connection.

Maglev is hugely expensive & is more of a vanity. China might be able to successfully uproot it's cities & install these kind of showpieces, but I think it is far more sensible to opt for better, cost-effective solutions for Indian cities. Highly expensive & symbolic train systems with heavy financial risks are not an option. A limited stops, express Metro to BIAL, along Bellary rd that does not involve land acquisition is perhaps a more faesible, workable & better option.

The expansion of this grandiose Maglev project between Shanghai & Hangzhou has been suspended due to resistance by residents along the route being concerned about radiation & electromagnetic field-related health problems, though Transrapid, the builder claims otherwise. comment guidelines

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