Ahmedabad: the deterioration of the city from Modernisation and Colonisation 1
The history of Ahmedabad’s urban growth is a very particular and interesting case to examine. Lying in the intersection of roads between neighboring towns means that it is uniquely advantaged to become a trade town. Widely regarded as an asset to cities economically, socially and in terms of trade, infrastructure provides different conditions in Ahmedabad. Here the trade industry has developed by the 18th century, separate from and long before what is deemed “modernisation” from the British colonisation, of which the most prominent and evident impact is the Municipal Commission in 1857, introduction of textile mills in 1861, the BB&CI railway in 1864, and the city Municipality in 1874, changing the city physically and socially.
Proof of how the colonisation process caused deterioration lies simply in the comparison of the city before and after, how the city was previously in a leading state with incremental flaws at the time, and slowly develope problems that can be traced back to the British rule. “Described by 16th century European travelers as “the handsomest town in Hindustan, perhaps in the world,” in the 17th century as a “city comparable in size and wealth to London” and as “the Manchester of the East”…” (Bhatt, 2004), there has been without a doubt sufficient evidence showing how the trade industry in Ahmedabad and general town development is well on the way, before the British colonisation, that brought with it external connections by the means of the Bombay, Baroda and Central Indian Railway. Through historical maps , it is clear that the physical expansion of Ahmedabad flourished in the 100 years following the introduction of the BB&CI, well beyond the initial development from an settlement, however it is arguable that the increase in population is actually damaging to the vernacular urban fabric.
The city, as Tewari states in Indian Cities: Ecological Perspectives “has been shaped by modernizing forces.. [and these forces, namely the British colonisation and the Bombay, Baroda and Central Indian Railway reflects] in its mills, walls and slums – is the outcome of the interaction among all of these factors”. And it could be said that the colonisation process is a destructive process towards the growth of the city, in primarily the import of population that causes the build up of the slum area, the deterioration in the local cotton textile industry.