Saturday, August 19, 2006

Mumbai - Shanghai

The PMO has laid out a Rs 50,500-crore plan that looks at changing the face of Mumbai to bring it on a par with the international standards – something on the lines of China’s Shanghai.

Good to raise Mumbai's levels further up. But what about other cities? I don't think Mumbai needs any extra funds. May be to some extent, but certainly not to this extent. What is needed is better regulation of funds and quicker, cost-effective implementation of projects.

India has to look beyond its big cities. Because decongestion of these 4 or 5 cities is equally important. Or else, it will be the same story all over again. People will continue to flock to these cities for better living standards. And, infrastructure will again be found wanting.

A huge percentage of India is underdeveloped. Forget villages. There are second-level and third-level cities and towns in all the states that are crying for attention. And also the municipality areas in bigger cities. They have stagnated all these years, only because they have not been a priority area.

If it is India, it is Mumbai or Delhi.

If it is Karnataka, it is Bangalore.

If it is Bangalore, it is M G Road or Brigade Road...

Isn't there an India beyond these...?


  1. In Karnataka, Mysore and Mangalore have enough potential to be No.2 destination in the state. In terms of quality of life, infrastructure, and connectivity they don't fall behind either. If the airports are upgraded in Mysore and Mangalore, then it will be a different story altogether.

  2. Kishor
    That's precisely the point I was making. Even Deve Gowda never bothered to develop his constituency of Hassan. That's just a pointer. And, he keeps talking about lopsided development of Bangalore.

  3. We say India is in its villages, yes we need to develop but not make each of the villages as another mumbai or delhi..the beauty of our country is its diversity in all aspects, be it land or society or culture.
    How many people in rural orrisa know Karnataka>Bangalore>MG Road , when they barely even have clothes?

    Another perpective is India , as per its being an important country on world map, as per fighting for all these years for getting in security council, needs some very high tech, ultra modern cities . The infrastructure takes time and money and the cities like Mumbai and Delhi, who are identified globally by many people of different nationality needs to get into the best cities of the world ASAP...

  4. Disha,:

    Turn villages into congested cities? No way. You are right, villages need to retain their tranquility. By developing villages we mean enabling people access to basic necessities like food, water, shelter etc...

    What is saddening is that our priorities are all so city-centric that villagers don't have access to basic necessities even after so many years. We need to look into this aspect even while developing further metros and cities.

    Forget villages. In Bangalore, you see how good pothole free roads are tarred again and again, when in the same city limits there are roads that have craters... Bad planning and execution, nothing else.

  5. The typical English village is probably the best example of what you speak Pradeep. They have all the amenities that modernity brings but are zealous in protecting their heritage, their reserves and their links to history.

  6. I used to think the same way. There is no end of this. For me, whatever they say Kerala will be Trivandrum. Doordarshan in Kerala was Trivandrum. No high court in Trivandrum is a big issue. They want to move court to Trivandrum. What about the poor souls who has to travel 15 hours one side on only 2~3 available trains to reach Trivandrum, to see its a bundh/hartal and nothing will happen? Well, there is no end. These are all realities. I would prefer my village in North Kerala remain a village. People like me can go out and earn and let my parents who spent the good part of life in cities growing us up have a wonderful life..

  7. Anon:

    Yes, I guess, we are following the US model of city development, rather than the European one. Somehow by development we have begun to assume that it is all swank buildings rather than hassle-free access to necessities of modern age.

  8. Me: This is where we make the fine distinction. Yes, the point is not transforming villages to concrete jungles. But providing good water, uninterrupted power supply, access to quality education, absence of disruptive and destructive features like bandhs... good quality communication faciliites, good job opportunities etc... I can bet, most of us would stay back in our villages or little towns if all these standards were met. Then, probably, the cities wouldn't have got as congested as this.

  9. Rony (Anonymous preferably)Aug 23, 2006, 1:56:00 PM

    RE: The Deve Gowda comment-If politicians really went on to genuinely solve problems there is the ingrained fear of doing away with their ilk completely. They (sterotyped politico's) would then have to reinvent and enlighten themselves; something which is beyond their zone of possibility and comprehension anyway. So a classic catch 22 with a very probable worst case scenario being modern "Patnas's" littered everywhere in the mockery that are our cities. Look at what Pataliputra used to be even 40 years ago. Look at it now. The other ciites are not far away.

  10. Rony: That's the vested interest politicos have in underdevelopment. I don't know if that's the case in all countries. I guess everywhere, they have a pride in development of the region they represent. Probably because politics and politicians do not enjoy a good reputation in the first place, development is often seen as the biggest threat to a politician's survival. How we can turn this tide around, is worth exploring.

  11. Mr Nair, I am sure you are aware of the crisis Vidharba had been facing all these years. I had written about it on my blog as well.

    Now, in this other India that we all mention so much, you have to agree that Vidharba's problems have been highlighted by the media the most. There have been 3000 suicides in Vidharbha in the past 3 years.

    Yet, it took three years for the PM to visit the region and to announce something from the center for the farmers. Three years and 3000 lives. Oh and while we are at it, do you know how many times the Maharashtra CM went there for a visit? Not once. And this is his own state.

    This is the other India and this is how it is dying a slow death. It is a pity, we are facing this under the rule of a PM who is called the architect of the modern Indian Economy for what he did more than a decade ago.

    I havent seen the media say this. But I insist that the Central Government has done less for the country's development in the past couple of years. If we have increased our GDP it is largely because of Market driven forces. The Govt has less to do with it.

    Sorry for hijacking your comment space like that.

  12. Truman,

    Before I reply, please don't be apologetic about the length of the comment. I like it this way. A little indepth and with some perspective.

    What you say about the Other India, which some characterise as "Real India", is very true. I don't know if it's dying, but definitely it is orphaned, and leaving its immense potential untapped. Not just Manmohan Singh, we have at the Centre some really eminent people, from President to some of the ministers and bureaucrats.

    The mainstream, mainly English media, don't devote so much of space to the Other India; though I wouldn't say it'sn't covered at all. Here's where regional newspapers in local language play a significant role. And many of them -- at least in Malayalam -- do a good job. At the end of the day, the role of the media is very limited. They are just a medium for info to flow through, at best facilitators.

  13. So true. policy makers have to think about this. But, will they .... ????

  14. Mahen,

    We can hope only that they will. It's never too late for such things even though over 50 years passed by.

  15. I tend to agree with many of the comments on villages being maintained as villages bereft of concrete building, replete with traditonal hutments that would speak out not only the local traditions but also keep the sanctity and serenity of the village intact. any development should be seen as an opportunity to showcase our traditons rather than one to make a fast buck. Today any such opportunity is taken up as a project sans sentiments. We need to do an introspection



  16. Suresh,
    Thanks for the comment. Tendency to make some revenue is understandable, but not in the manner it tends to be done. While on one side we need to take care of tradition, we also need to put lots of emphasis on providing basic amenities, which a large number of Indians do not have. And, it is not difficult to provide these amenities without breaking traditions or getting too commercial.