Hafeez Contractor is an architect based in Mumbai. He has designed many skyscrapers in India notably the three tallest buildings in the country- The 42 in Kolkata and the twin towers of The Imperial in Mumbai. He was awarded the Padma Bhushan in January 2016 by the Government of India.
To the Man who holds the nation together, I write to you today to wish you on your 70th birthday, a historic birthday to your esteemed self and the Nation alike. I along with all the people of this country, really appreciate how you and your governance has guided this vast and diverse nation through these unforeseen global difficulties of the novel COVID 19 pandemic. The foreign policies you have established has been a testimony of the nation’s financial potential and promises this nation, a global stand, the future looks promising. It is heart-warming to see that the only man who can lead the country’s stride to progress is the man at the top the realm.
India’s biggest strength is its youth and its people. 60 percent of whom have no formal housing or live in slums; but sadly every year our slums are increasing exponentially because of the unaffordable pricing of real estate. Living in these harsh conditions, 75 percent of their productivity goes in daily survival and household chores. I feel that if we can put these people to work; together in this world’s largest democracy, we can make it a global super power.
To show you a case-study, we have already worked out a comprehensive report on all the slum areas of Mumbai and how they could be housed in quality living conditions. The vision is to convert India’s ‘biggest problem’ of the country, Slums, into its ‘biggest asset’. Most of the urban slums are located in the prime notes of each city and this land use adds to the unaffordable urban pricing in lines with earning potential. We look to provide free or concessional slum housing for existing slum dwellers on unused or under-utilised government lands at much higher densities compared to the horizontal urban sprawl of slum, providing much better living conditions; also helping clear these notably large undervalued prime land parcels in the city. The land recovered by clearing the slums could be the states property alternatively the state could use this land to develop sale housing for the youth of India at affordable rates to effectively reduce the city‘s real estate sale market and ensure future slum formation. Providing only housing won’t help stimulate the economy to a ‘net positive’ so we envision to generate employment opportunities across all household age groups through employment buildings of small-scale food processing electronics packaging fabric and other industry units to compete with international markets within these rehousing and sale schemes; making these pre dispositioned slums into ‘Growth Engines’ for a post COVID era.
This Non-Profit initiative could be funded by Foreign funds, to kick-start rebuilding of the Nation’s Housing crisis. The centre and state governments should work in tandem to string together a foreign policy to optimise these funds (we have received interest from Scandinavian funds for the same). This Government spearheaded scheme of Quality slum rehousing, affordable upmarket housing and Employment centres together can be the threshold to kick-start the nation’s economy and make the base for the future generation. Who better to bear this flag than you, it’s a golden opportunity to script a positive change. India has to raise to the occasion and If this is done, I can assure you, we will have your dream come true of a 5 trillion Economy. Imagine if all this youth works together to a maximum potential and time. I pray to god and pray to you that we have a house, an affordable house, for every Indian. May you make this wish a reality, Many many happy returns on your birthday, may you live longer and happy; Wishing you the strength on this birthday to build a stronger ‘New India’.