It seems all roads lead to Delhi as chief minister Sheila Dikshit described it as “the most attractive city for youth seeking work across the country.”
She heaped this praise on the city in the wake of the recently released report Estimates of State Domestic Product 2012-13 that says that the services sector, which includes real estate, hotels, restaurants, banking, insurance, wholesale and retail trade, accounted for 81.54% of Delhi’s total GDP in 2012-13, compared to an 81.62% contribution in 2011-12.
This is indeed a positive affirmation of the progress that the capital city has made over the years. But there the dark cloud to this silver lining is that economic growth of this sort brings along with it unbridled urbanisation with Delhi being home to more migrants than any other state. Census 2011 too affirmed that urban India added more numbers to its population in a decade than rural India did.
Unfortunately, despite economic growth which is the main driver behind the migration from other parts of the country, increasing population density is putting existing urban infrastructure under strain, be it housing, basic services like transport, roads, electricity, water, sanitation, sewage, etc, in metros like Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.
While Dikshit has time and again blamed incessant migration for the breakdown of urban services, politicians in Maharashtra have made their careers out of the anti-migrant sentiments. Such inflammatory politics and overstretched infrastructure have caused enormous social tensions.
If we really wish to capitalise on our growing economy and the much-talked-about demographic dividend, we have to ensure that the India growth story narrative is spun in such a way that it covers second and third tier cities like Indore, Nagpur, Thiruvananthapuram, etc.
A rapidly urbanising India must build on existing infrastructure and create new systems in order to open up vistas of investment in these cities.
Many start-ups have chosen these cities as better options but the governments in the states and the Centre need to do much more to attract and provide incentives to companies who wish to invest in these places.
India may no longer want to live in its villages. But certainly the urban space can be made more livable for those who want an alternative to crowding the already crowded metropolises.