Big Ideas for India Contest: Question 8: How should India urbanise?

With India’s big cities bursting at their seams and with small towns growing rapidly (as the latest census shows), India is urbanising rapidly. Even as one focuses on what can be made to improve quality of life in the existing towns and cities, there is a need to think of creating entirely new cities.

The fact is that India needs to urbanise and villages are not where the future lies, even though some in high places still hold views to the contrary. The reality is that the history of development and economic growth is also the story of urbanization and cities.

Consider the challenge that lies ahead for India. In the next 10-15 years, urban India will have to accommodate about 200 million Indians who migrate from rural areas away from agriculture and in search of manufacturing and services jobs. How will our cities manage?

Contest Overview.

6 thoughts on “Big Ideas for India Contest: Question 8: How should India urbanise?

  1. There are many things running in my mind before i think of an answer and also before i question the question itself.

    However, if i’m to provide a relatively workable solution, then here it goes:

    “Create an Independent governing body governed by central government and approved by state governments to involve in all policies of urbanization. The role of this body should be suggest new ideas and implement it end to end at regional level and show results to center (the scope of this body should be limited to activities which have not been identified by the state as yet – to avoid bureaucracy and smooth functioning)
    Finally, never forget to have someone young, energetic & passionate person at the top of this organization”

    “I think the next revolution in India will be via governance” – I’m arriving at this conclusion after having lived in Underdeveloped & Developed nations – including China!

  2. We need to plan a few new cities and basically model these on some cities abroad, there is nothing wrong in copying stuff that has worked well. Some chinese cities could be good models since they must have faced similar challenges.

    This would really need a lot of PPP. But there are many corporates in India willing to contribute to such actions, so its a question of direction and co-ordination.

  3. Focus on urban centers and focus less on far-flung regions in terms of infrastructure development (even providing reliable high-speed Internet access can open up numerous business opportunities). Instead divert those resources on making our metropolitan regions more productive and efficient. Foster an entrepreneurial climate by creating knowledge corridors around institutions of higher learning. Do not fight the natural trend of clustering by trying to spread economic growth around. Some regions will always be more productive than the others. We can instead focus on making them stronger by playing to its strengths.

    If there is anything we can learn from the urban development of Silicon Valley or Research Triangle in the U.S., it is the underlying importance of the feedback loops of higher education institutions and the talent they attract. The trick in making the graduates stick around by offering them a climate of entrepreneurship through social & professional networking and heavy investment in infrastructure that focuses on quality of life. Urban areas with great weather already have an upper hand and India seems to be blessed with such regions.

    Obviously, this is just a big-picture comment and specific details will be subject to debate.

  4. Developing newer cities is not an easy solution.

    What India needs to do is develop Business Centres (Hubs) with the best transportation to and fro.
    The idea is to create suburbs first that have all the basic needs like water, power, schools, clubs, theaters etc. where people can have homes and take the public transportation to work at these hubs.
    There should be separate entities who will plan and design the work hub from the suburb and the planning should be taking into consideration the next 20 years.