Apr 26, 2009

Dream: Coastal Living in India

I have often been asked by some people abroad, about the apparent lack of interest Indians have in 'living the coastal life' despite having a long coastline. I must admit, I did not have an answer, except mumble that the Indian idea of 'living the life' is different from what the Americans, British or the Australians may have. Indian kids in general do not grow up on the rich feast of sports and active lifestyle that kids in such countries do. Our kids are anyway constantly prodded by their parents to do three things: study, study and study more. And when these kids grow up, they don't change; in most cases active lifestyle may mean watching the next T20 cricket match, firmly ensconced on the couch with that bowl of potato chips.

Fortunately i spent my childhood in the coastal cities of Visakhapatnam (aka Vizag) and Paradip - as a child i remember awaiting our weekly trip to Ramakrishna Beach in Vizag. In Paradip, our school gang used to tear up the beach after every major exam. The tremendous feeling of post-exam-mania release would always find its vent near the Bay of Bengal. And the summer holidays had numerous bike trips from our township nestled in Paradip Phosphates, were always to the deserted beach. But all this was raw energy with absolutely no supporting infrastructure for sports like sailing, yachting, parasailing, canoeing etc. The same is true even today though some sports are faintly picking up in places like Rushikonda near Visakhapatnam. Indians are slowly waking up to a more active lifestyle, what with increasing global exposure of the IT generation: groups focused on Running (eg: Hyderabad Runners), Cycling (eg: HBC), Adventure (eg: www.hydventura.com), etc have emerged speaking of only one place - Hyderabad.

Now coming back to the coastline theme, India has all of 7,517 km of it, and except for pockets such as Goa or a few kilometres of beachfront property in major cities like Mumbai, Cochin, Madras, Visakhapatnam there is not much of Real Estate activity. Even the big boom of the last five years did not differentiate Coastal areas per se, as a hot zone. In my home state of Andhra Pradesh, the big Coastal Corridor project that was hatched by Chandrababu Naidu in his term and then continued by the Congress government was dropped due to political pressure - the government could not figure out an easy way of compensating the displaced and since it was an election year, they developed cold feet and scrapped it.

Big development is required in the coastal areas - to attract industry, the services sector which bring in jobs and hence people who will spur demand for quality houses on the beaches. Such demand will also carry a niche that demands quality coastal living.

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