Working in the Department of Town and Country Planning, Government of Punjab, I have been experiencing a just fine balance between the bygone planning practice and an eagerness to venture out towards technological advancements, while scoring previously laid goals in a comparatively newer field. The goals, nonetheless, are made achievable by virtue of our planning education, which in its capacity, and like any other education, is idealistic to the core. The ground realities that are often overlooked as setbacks or confined to a textbox titled “limitations”, often return to avenge themselves in our professional practice. Hence, no matter how cliché, it would be advisable to be ready for an upgrade, for the professional practice stands tall on its column of norms, which are amended from time to time. It is not only advisable but mandatory to follow those changes and adapt accordingly. Same is true for one’s readiness to learn – for it is the ability to deal with exceptions that entitles one to being called experienced, rather than following a straightforward monotony of actions, that rarely happens in the Indian way of things.
Moreover, it is a common accommodation to indulge most and sundry’s prolepsis, be it doing things that “planners don’t do”, or working on software that “planners aren’t taught”, for in this case, even the Planning Education does not put a cap on all that it constitutes, but rather provides an umbrella over all it embodies. However, planning education at best tries to tackle the enormity as well as the atypicality of the roles that planning students might undertake as future professionals. In its defence, since there is a visible uncommonness in the activities of planning professionals around the country, (maybe around the world too, of which I am unaware) planning education finds itself unequipped to shed the epithet of edifying one to become “A jack of all trades, and master of none”.
Barely 1.5 years into service, I do not find myself in a position to actually advise; but in my willingness to share my epiphanies, had I an inkling of where I shall be, as I am today, in my student days, I would have:
- Taken greater interest in the infrastructural know-how in conjunction with the theoretical planning concepts that come in handy while making decisions. This is not just because of the profession being largely hijacked by civil engineers, but also due to the inter-organisational practices, that keep things moving.
- Been more attentive towards the real estate aspect of urban landholdings, for the anticipated “change” that is romanticized in much of planning education, is reified only upon the manifestation of a handsome remittance for various stakeholders. It applies to Public Finance as well, for a general clarity, even in the form of a singular precedent, in the fund disbursement with respect to ULBs (single or more) helps to attain a broader and more realistic outlook.
- Shown more curiosity in the workings of Planning Offices, especially in terms of tasks involving more of public dealing for once, other than those akin to the laborious studio exercises of Plan Making – for in aggrandizing the latter, howsoever necessary, the former gets noticeably undermined.
Nevertheless, education of any kind rarely sheds its blandness for an average student, no matter how much impressed upon by the educator. Finding fault in neither, and accepting life as it ensues, it is safest to be a happy combination of being hard working and attentive, with a will to learn, while being a planning professional. This, in my opinion, comes naturally to a typical B.Planner – who ventured into a fairly unknown course and came out with a fresh perspective as well as an easier bent to upskill.
Office of District Town Planner, Faridkot
Department of Town and Country Planning
Government of Punjab)