Why Mahatma Gandhi Was Wrong When He Said The Future Of India Lay In Its Villages

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The world’s population crossed the 7 billion people mark in 2011, more than half of whom make their homes in cities. More people and more cities are an inevitable part of the future. With population pressures rising, cities are increasingly being perceived as beacons of opportunity, especially as economic prospects continue to decline in rural areas.

There is near-perfect correlation between the process of urbanization and success across nations. On an average, as the proportion of a country’s urban population rises by ten percent, the country’s per capita output increases by 30 percent. Per capita income are almost four times higher in those countries where a majority of the people live in cities than in those countries where a majority of people reside in rural areas; this shouldn’t be surprising.

Although India has undertaken measures like the PURA (provision of urban amenities in rural areas) to foster employment opportunities, the fact is, tall,  compact cities is where the future lies. Compact cities promote more communication among the working class, which means more ideas. More ideas lead to better innovations thus enhancing productivity. The end result is that people like you and me will ultimately benefit from numerous innovations that take place in a dynamic city.

The number of megacities (population with ten million and more) are now in double digits at twenty three, up from nine back in 1985. Moreover, these 23 megacities create almost half of the world’s wealth.

Mr.Narendra Modi has ambitious plans lined up for the future cities of India. The incumbent government has finally realized that Mahatma Gandhi was wrong when he said “the future of India lies in our villages”.  In fact the future of our nation lies in building “smart cities”.  One has to only look at cities like Singapore, Seoul or even Bangalore to realize the advantage of metropolitan regions. These smart cities use a combination of brainpower and technology to accelerate development. Residents in Bangalore now have the option of storing solar energy on their panels and even selling the surplus energy generated to the local government.

However, a pressing issue facing metropolitan regions across the world is its growing size. As cities grow, so will the complexity of running one grow.  Pressures from climate change, mounting demand for core services (water, electricity, etc.) will pose a serious challenge to urban planners across the world. How does a city grow and develop sustainably? This is where innovation comes to the fore. After all, ultimately the success of a country will not just depend on four to five megacities but will also depend on numerous small compact cities.

India’s future then, lies in sustainable, smart and economically vibrant cities.

Somesh Chandran

Image Source: [https://www.flickr.com/photos/vinothchandar/7506238944]