Digital Planet > On the Record > Pandemic exposed the existing societal framework as unsustainable

Pandemic exposed the existing societal framework as unsustainable

Bhaskar Chakravorti discusses how Haussmann's 19th century renovation of Paris may carry relevant lessons we could use today.

January 1, 2021

“It is time to imagine the boulevards and sewers that will emerge at the end of this pandemic”, advises Fletcher Dean of Global Business Bhaskar Chakravorti. To consider this, he says, we must ask what from 2020 should we reinforce, what must we rebuild, and what should we tear down and build again?

In his latest article in The Indian Express, Dean Chakravorti begins with a historical analogy: “When much of Paris was rebuilt in the mid-19th century, a medieval tangle of a city was transformed into a glorious metropolis known for its wide boulevards.” He explains that the idea behind this transformation was to let in more sunlight, which was considered an antidote to cholera, a pandemic with roots in Bengal that travelled all the way to Paris. The beauty of Parisian boulevards continue to serve as a testament to societal progress and innovation. “Even in places far from Paris,” says Dean Chakravorti, “from Lutyens’ re-imagined Delhi to Khedive Ismail’s re-commissioned Cairo, residents may never visit Paris, but can enjoy Parisian boulevards.”

The reconstruction of Paris wasn’t just for aesthetic improvements, it was a total reengineering of the city, which included a modern sewage system. The advanced system was built in response to evidence that better sanitation could stave off the next viral outbreak.

According to Dean Chakravorti, “We are at that moment in history, again. It is time to imagine the boulevards and sewers that will emerge at the end of this pandemic.” In order to consider this, we must collectively ask ourselves what from 2020 we should reinforce, rebuild, and tear down and build again.

Dean Chakravorti cites specific advancements, areas of untapped opportunity, and challenges that have risen to the surface during 2020, and how we must work collectively to reinforce the progress made, address unresolved gaps, and rebuild the outdated or ineffective systems currently in place.

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