Opinion

Beyond Brexit: UK verdict reflects anxieties of those hit hard by economic inequality

This can't be viewed neatly as a battle between progressives and conservatives.

So the suspense is over – Britain has voted to leave. The margin of victory is very small, but the decision has been made.

The issues related to the referendum to remain or to leave the European Union are far more revelatory than the word “Brexit” suggests. This was more than just a choice between crazy jingoism and being progressive.

The vote to leave is being projected as a manifestation of the resistance to immigration and an uninformed understanding of the financial implications. But the debates in the British media in the weeks leading up to the vote have given a sense of other issues that the British people are also considering.

The stability of the United Kingdom, its strength as a democracy and political spaces that are still somewhat safer than the political tumult in many of the other European countries gets somewhat overlooked when the nation is viewed as a part of the EU.

Britain has been one of the most attractive countries for investment because of its stable financial institutions. In terms of real estate, it attracts a large amount of money because of the credibility of its legal system.

As part of the EU, all this is ignored – or overpowered by the concept of Europa, which at the time of its founding in 1993, appeared to be a strengthening initiative. But since then, the EU has become a place full of indebted nations, with uncomfortable diversity in their democratic cultures. The economic club is unequal and fragile

So why stay? As in all contemporary discussions, the dominant criterion used is economic power. With this decision, many are trying to predict what kind of crises could affect the global economy. But recent history has taught us that these bumps can settled fairly quickly due to the power of global communications, and because of the deep disparities in inter-region wealth and participation in the financial system.

The danger of this verdict is that some of the most outspoken leaders of Brexit have revealed xenophobic attitudes. However, there are others who see it as a way of protecting the best of Britain’s political and social culture. They also see it as an attempt to safeguard the nation’s economy. A strong British economy, they believe, can provide a better bulwark for other countries than the precarious European economy .

As anticipated, there is a clear divide in voting patterns between polling areas considered progressive, and those from areas considered working class. Commentators suggest that this inward-looking tendency is a sign of right-wing affirmation. However, this could also be a rejection of globalism, especially from who have suffered the consequences of the banditry of capital flows and the tumult of inequality.

These anxieties and viewpoints also need to be brought into the debates – not bifurcated neatly into progressive and conservative camps.

Devaki Jain is a visiting scholar at Wolfson College, Oxford.

We welcome your comments at letters@scroll.in.
Sponsored Content  BY 

Modern home design trends that are radically changing living spaces in India

From structure to finishes, modern homes embody lifestyle.

Homes in India are evolving to become works of art as home owners look to express their taste and lifestyle through design. It’s no surprise that global home design platform Houzz saw over a million visitors every month from India, even before their services were locally available. Architects and homeowners are spending enormous time and effort over structural elements as well as interior features, to create beautiful and comfortable living spaces.

Here’s a look at the top trends that are altering and enhancing home spaces in India.

Cantilevers. A cantilever is a rigid structural element like a beam or slab that protrudes horizontally out of the main structure of a building. The cantilevered structure almost seems to float on air. While small balconies of such type have existed for eons, construction technology has now enabled large cantilevers, that can even become large rooms. A cantilever allows for glass facades on multiple sides, bringing in more sunlight and garden views. It works wonderfully to enhance spectacular views especially in hill or seaside homes. The space below the cantilever can be transformed to a semi-covered garden, porch or a sit-out deck. Cantilevers also help conserve ground space, for lawns or backyards, while enabling more built-up area. Cantilevers need to be designed and constructed carefully else the structure could be unstable and lead to floor vibrations.

Butterfly roofs. Roofs don’t need to be flat - in fact roof design can completely alter the size and feel of the space inside. A butterfly roof is a dramatic roof arrangement shaped, as the name suggests, like a butterfly. It is an inverted version of the typical sloping roof - two roof surfaces slope downwards from opposing edges to join around the middle in the shape of a mild V. This creates more height inside the house and allows for high windows which let in more light. On the inside, the sloping ceiling can be covered in wood, aluminium or metal to make it look stylish. The butterfly roof is less common and is sure to add uniqueness to your home. Leading Indian architecture firms, Sameep Padora’s sP+a and Khosla Associates, have used this style to craft some stunning homes and commercial projects. The Butterfly roof was first used by Le Corbusier, the Swiss-French architect who later designed the city of Chandigarh, in his design of the Maison Errazuriz, a vacation house in Chile in 1930.

Butterfly roof and cantilever (Image credit: Design Milk on Flickr.com)
Butterfly roof and cantilever (Image credit: Design Milk on Flickr.com)

Skylights. Designing a home to allow natural light in is always preferred. However, spaces, surrounding environment and privacy issues don’t always allow for large enough windows. Skylights are essentially windows in the roof, though they can take a variety of forms. A well-positioned skylight can fill a room with natural light and make a huge difference to small rooms as well as large living areas. However, skylights must be intelligently designed to suit the climate and the room. Skylights facing north, if on a sloping roof, will bring in soft light, while a skylight on a flat roof will bring in sharp glare in the afternoons. In the Indian climate, a skylight will definitely reduce the need for artificial lighting but could also increase the need for air-conditioning during the warm months. Apart from this cleaning a skylight requires some effort. Nevertheless, a skylight is a very stylish addition to a home, and one that has huge practical value.

Staircases. Staircases are no longer just functional. In modern houses, staircases are being designed as aesthetic elements in themselves, sometimes even taking the centre-stage. While the form and material depend significantly on practical considerations, there are several trendy options. Floating staircases are hugely popular in modern, minimalist homes and add lightness to a normally heavy structure. Materials like glass, wood, metal and even coloured acrylic are being used in staircases. Additionally, spaces under staircases are being creatively used for storage or home accents.

Floating staircase (Image credit: Design Milk on Flickr.com)
Floating staircase (Image credit: Design Milk on Flickr.com)

Exposed Brick Walls. Brickwork is traditionally covered with plaster and painted. However, ‘exposed’ bricks, that is un-plastered masonry, is becoming popular in homes, restaurants and cafes. It adds a rustic and earthy feel. Exposed brick surfaces can be used in home interiors, on select walls or throughout, as well as exteriors. Exposed bricks need to be treated to be moisture proof. They are also prone to gathering dust and mould, making regular cleaning a must.

Cement work. Don’t underestimate cement and concrete when it comes to design potential. Exposed concrete interiors, like exposed brick, are becoming very popular. The design philosophy is ‘Less is more’ - the structure is simplistic and pops of colour are added through furniture and soft furnishings.

Exposed concrete wall (Image Credit: Getty Images)
Exposed concrete wall (Image Credit: Getty Images)

When building your home, it is important to use strong and durable materials. A value-added premium product with high compressive strength, Birla Gold cement is used to make tough, impermeable concrete that sets quickly, lasts long and minimises cracking. Its durability will ensure that your dream home always looks new and the steel structure inside remains protected. Birla Gold offers variants that are optimised for different needs. The unique hydraulic binding properties of the Birla Gold Premium cement variant prevent seepage, making it resistant to even corrosive water, especially important for houses in coastal cities. The Birla Gold Royal cement variant provides very high strength and is perfect for the foundation. As the video below says, with the different varieties of cement that Birla Gold offers, you can build the home of your dreams.

Play

This article was produced by the Scroll marketing team on behalf of Birla Gold Premium Cement and not by the Scroll editorial team.