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Battle for a better city

Fourteen professionals from various walks of life were awarded for their role in making Calcutta a better city in the third edition of Better City Better Life presented by the Public Relations Society of India, Calcutta chapter, in association with The Telegraph and Mayabious Art, at Peerless Inn on January 12.

Setting the tone for the event was a panel discussion on how to make Calcutta more liveable and healthy. Tapati Ghosh, the director of Centre for Contemporary Communication and moderator for the session, said cities are our greatest legacy. “So we need to nurture them carefully.” Ghosh also listed some qualities of an ideal city like being green, inclusive, planned and productive.

Ananya Bhattacharya, the vice-president and founder of Banglanatak dot com, explained how urban spaces can be revitalised by using cultural resources and how we can build on our resources and capitalise on our heritage. “Baul music… should be promoted. Most of us do not even know about the masks of Raiganj while we spend money buying imported ones. It is our duty to popularise local art and handicraft,” she said.

Mallika Jain, the secretary of Centre for Contemporary Communication, focussed on how Calcutta was gradually turning into a not-so-green city, citing that even the civic body has no proper list of parks and green patches in the city. “Parks are very important in making a city sustainable and resilient and also for its economic growth,” she said before showing pictures of some of Calcutta’s parks in a sorry state. Jalan warned of a time when morning walkers would have to head for malls.

Abhirup Sarkar, a professor at Indian Statistical Institute, highlighted the difference between literacy and education. “These days education is all about getting a degree so that you get a good job. Can we call it good education if it teaches us to be selfish? Education should make you humble and sympathetic and it should not be just a means of achieving material ends,” he said.

Akhil Bandhu Paul, the CEO and founder of Mayabious Art, rounded off by adding how the youth can help in making Calcutta grow.

The discussion was followed by the award ceremony. This year’s winners include physicist Bikash Sinha, Patton Group managing director Sanjay Budhia, cardio-thoracic surgeon Kunal Sarkar, Lifeline Foundation, actress Swagata Mukherjee, poet Joy Goswami and artist Suvaprasanna. Sunanda Mukherjee, the chairperson of state women’s commission, was the guest of honour.