I have been thinking on how to distinguish between Private spaces and Public spaces. Let me clarify a bit by what I mean by Public space. Again the Wikipedia has come to my rescue. Wikipedia defines Public Space as
One definition of public space or a public place is a place where anyone has a right to come without paying an entrance or other fee. Typical examples are most roads, including the pavement, and public squares and parks. Typical differences between e.g. sitting on a public bench and sitting on a seat in a pavement cafe:Going by this definition, Private Space can be defined as its exact opposite.
- the first costs nothing
- there is no time limitation
- one can consume brought-along food and drinks (for alcoholic beverages the law prohibits this sometimes; this may even be the case if it is allowed in a pavement cafe)
- a pavement cafe may have a dress code such as a prohibition of being shirtless, while in a public space only general law applies
There has been a lot of malls springing up in Delhi and nearby areas these days. The general population considers them to be a Public Space .. i.e anyone can come into the mall, browse around and generally hang-out. However, the homogeneity of the crowds at these places (teens with branded clothes, mobile phones, and generally with an I don't care but am conscious of your stare) leads me to think there is something wrong with it. I don't find this same homogeneity when I go out for a walk in my colony's road .
I have come up with a test to see whether a space is really private or public. The test is Does the place allow beggars and street urchins to come into it ? If yes, it is a public space. The roads and park in my locality cleanly qualify as a public space. At least the external grounds of Priya cinema hall, PVR Saket cinema hall, Dilli Haat qualify as public space. However, the malls like Ansal Plaza, 3Cs fail to qualify this test.
My reasons for choosing beggars and street urchins for my test is simple. Most people dislike being around them. To put it bluntly, their voice is the easiest and the first to be censored. Hence, if you want to test censorship, test whether the entity(in this case the owner of the mall) censors them. Now start extrapolating their censorship. Will these mall owners allow protesters protesting, let us say, the increasing private school fees. I doubt it. Will these protesters be disallowed from waving their placards and sitting on a hunger strike at the Jantar Mantar ? I doubt it.
Places which portray themselves as public spaces are not necessary so. Just some random musings on a Saturday afternoon while I was feeling sleepy at work