Indian cities growing at speed but development at turtle’s pace

Indian cities growing at speed but development at turtle's paceIndia has been registering new highs in the world of socio-economic development but one fact that worries the government as well as industry experts is that while the cities of India are growing at a brisk pace, the same cannot be said of their development.

It is believed that some cities of the country will see a unique though unwanted transformation wherein some cities may become larger than many countries of the world, in terms of size of population and gross domestic product (GDP).


While rapidly modernising cities such as Shanghai and Sao Paulo are winning business from centres such as London and New York, the slow pace of urban development in India is harming its cities, which by 2030 will be home to about 590 million people — nearly twice the population of the United States today.

Indian cities over the next two decades will also house 40 percent of the country’s population and generate some 70 percent of new job opportunities, McKinsey Global Institute (MGI), the research arm of consultancy McKinsey, estimates in a report.

To cater to this growth, India needs to invest $1.2 trillion in capital expenditure, mainly infrastructure, over that period, an eight-fold increase of current spending levels, MGI said.

“Across all major quality-of-life indicators, India’s cities fall well short of delivering even a basic standard of living for their residents,” the report said.

India now spends $17 per capita on urban infrastructure, compared to rival China’s $116.

That figure is clearly inadequate: while it took about 40 years for India’s urban population to rise by nearly 230 million in 2008, it will take only half that time to add the next 250 million people, analysts say.

This fall in quality of life can be noticed with the fact that more people in India have access to a mobile phone than a toilet, which is amusing and worrying at the same time.

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