Think Small?

Tata, the super-company that’s bringing the world’s cheapest car to India, also has “small” plans in providing housing in their new Shubh Griha development outside Bombay.  My sources tell me “Shubh Griha” means “good/auspicious house,” lending support to my theory that Tata is trying to become the purveyor of the Indian Dream.

So how “good” is it?  Well for starters, 6.75 lakh rupees (675,000 or about $14,200) gets you a 1 BR, 465 sqft apartment (“bachelors” as small as 283 sqft are available).

Next, I was worried that pairing a carmaker and real estate developer would carry some perverse incentives to create auto-dependent communities.  The community is unfortunately located 120km (~75 mi) from Bombay, continuing the trend of “sprawling” development around India’s major cities.  However, the community’s location-related marketing tailors 4 of 5 bullet points to buses and the train, and only mentions proximity to the highway (NH8) in one of them, boasting that the development is “Conveniently located within 5 mins of Boisar railway station & MIDC.”  According to images from the website, the community will incorporate ground level retail into at least some buildings, and include “retail and hawking zones.”

The development seems to balance these elements with a desire for the garden-apartment/”tower in the park” feel (flaunting its “Open Space:  70%” stat) that so often makes “green space” the greatest good, often at the expense of lively, integrated public spaces that residents would actually use.

All in all, this version of the “Indian Dream” shows that development in India is, thankfully, not just following in the footsteps of the “American Dream,” and the looming threat of a developing consumerist middle class against the environment might not be as bad as is often described.  Let’s hope so.

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