New report on skewed urbanisation in India
Cities have long been held as agents of economic growth. In recent times, urban buoyancy has been cited as among the main reasons of India's consumer revolution. There is a damper though. On June 27 2007, one of the country's leading economic research bodies released the draft of a report that raises serious questions on India's urban planning.
"By no criterion, India qualifies to be an urban nation,' states this report prepared by economists from the National Institute of Public Finance and Policy (nipfp). Om Prakash, Mathur professor of urban economics and finance with the institute explained why. "Only 30 per cent of India's population lives in urban settlements and the growth rates too have been at best moderate,' he said. Mathur was speaking at a gathering of experts who had gathered to discuss the study conducted by his institute.Called India Urban Report, preparing for an urban transaction, the analysis was commissioned by the Union ministry of urban development. nipfp was asked to look into the changes taking place in the country's urban economy, infrastructure and services, and the mechanisms of decentralisation
The discussion on the report brought some rare moments of candour. Montek Singh Ahluwalia, the deputy chairperson of the planning commission, said, "Planning efforts so far have evolved supporting a market economy, but the provision and delivery of services won't happen as a result of market forces. Steps will need to be taken towards that.' "We build flyovers and hotels in order to host the Commonwealth Games for instance. But is that what the city really needs?' he asked.
Living on extensionsA key feature of India's urbanisation is the increasing concentration of urban population in the comparatively larger cities. There are, however, no trends toward demographic primacy