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Monica Dispatch

Globalization in the Model City of Chandigarh
June 03, 2000

"Let this be a new town symbolic of the freedom of India, unfettered by the traditions of the past, an expression of the nation's faith in the future." -Jawaharlal Nehru

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Sculptures made out of rock
On our

Take a tour through Nek Chand's Rock Garden made from industrial waste.

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website, we share with you different stories of colonialism and oppression. For example, we write about the Spanish control of Latin America, the Israeli occupation of Palestine, and the Chinese annexation of Tibet. Colonialism is one of the negative aspects of globalization and occurs when one culture asserts its superiority over another, raping the resources of a country or crushing its people in the name of economy or profit. For example, take the well-known British colonization of India and the story of India's independence.

At the same time, we share with you the positive aspects of globalization. For example, when you log on, you learn first-hand about the countries we visit. You take positive action through our "Making a Difference" dispatches. These actions and your continued education create many opportunities to foster a global-thinking community.

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An entire wall made of broken plates!
Nek Chand lost his home and village in the 1948 partition of India. In 1958, while working as Roads Inspector during Chandigarh's construction, Chand acted on a recurring childhood dream and started to collect bits and pieces of waste left over from construction. For 16 years, in secret, he created art from these bits including fantastic statues of leftover metal, walls made of discarded electrical fixtures and broken plates, and waterfalls and gardens made of what other people considered waste. Once discovered, city officials failed to honor his "rock garden," because it was built on public land. Attempts to destroy it, however, were met with an appreciation for Nek Chand's creativity and recycling talents. Today, the Nek Chand Rock Garden draws hundreds of tourists, both Indian and non-Indian.

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Having fun (with my backpack on)
I wander though narrow alleyways carrying my huge backpack and bending to fit through low doorways. I see sculptures of birds, animals, humans, and bizarre formations, similar to Gaudi's work in Barcelona. There are streams, courtyards, and small bridges, all filled with children who greet me and parents who nod and offer a smile.

To learn more about the Nek Chand Rock Garden, write to:

The Friends of The Rock Garden
Bikram Grewal/Ria Patel
101/4 Kaushalya Park
Hauz Khas
New Delhi 110016 India
The model city of Chandigarh, the capital of Punjab, reminds me of both positive and negative aspects of globalization, especially regarding India. The Swiss architect Le Corbusier planned Chandigarh from the ground up. Many criticize his design because of its European nature; broad avenues, green parks and a grid formation seem anti-Indian. However, as I wander through clean streets and a funky rock garden designed from industrial byproducts, I can't help but think this is one example of positive globalization.

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Reema and I on the swings
I visit Chandigarh on a Sunday and meet 12-year-old Reema at the Rock Garden in a courtyard lined with huge swings. Reema sits on one of the swings and I share it with her. The residents of Chandigarh, numbering 650,000, moved here within the last 50 years, so Reema's generation is one of the first to have been born in this city.

Chandigarh is the capital of Punjab and many of its residents work at the state offices, located within the "Capital Complex." For example, Navrang, who I meet later, tells me that his wife works within this sector. Navrang is a musician at the Hindu temple in Sector 17 and often guides visitors from all over the world around this city. Most of these visitors are architects who come to see how this city works.

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All of Chandigarh is divided into sectors
I first learned about Chandigarh city from Professor MacDougall, my architecture professor in college, who's written about the myths and realities of this city. There are many publications about Chandigarh: to learn more about it, visit or


industrial - pertaining to or resulting from any general business or manufacturing activity
utopian - pertaining to a place or state of ideal perfection

As a rickshaw- wallah takes me around, I admire the wide streets, traffic circles, greenery and views of the nearby Himalayan foothills. Le Corbusier originally designed Chandigarh into block formations. These numbered "sectors" have different purposes, built like a human body. The "head" is the Capital Complex, Sector 1. The "heart" is the shopping center, Sector 17. Huge green spaces, including a blooming rose garden, are the "lungs," located in the middle.

Your Turn!!!

Do you think this city reflects more positive or more negative effects of globalization?

Share your thoughts
and see what others wrote!

When Le Corbusier, a foreigner, attempted to create a utopian city in India, he didn't realize that the result would lead to much controversy. Architects, geographers, urban planners and students all over the world express both positive and negative things about Chandigarh. Some call it "the greatest architectural achievement of the 20th century" while others describe the city as a "concrete jungle". However, Chandigarh is just one example of globalization: a city that was planned by an outsider in the aftermath of Independence and Partition, inhabited by Indians, and is now visited by foreigners like me.


p.s. - Please e-mail me at

Abeja - Making a Difference
Abeja - In the Name of Development
Monica - Get Out of My Ear!
Monica - Partition and the Aftermath: At the Indo-Pakistani Border

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