25 de maio de 2013

ÍNDIA - Why small towns are lagging behind?

MARCH 31, 2013

There are 4,378 urban centres that have the 285 million urban citizens of the country. Of these there are 35 cities that have more than 1 million people and together account for 107.88 million people. That means the remaining 177.12 million or more than half of the total urban population of the country lives in small-sized towns or urban agglomerations. Even half of the population lives in small-sized town, the bigger cities become the magnet for populations that emerge from impoverished and infrastructure deficient rural and urban areas.

The reason for the skewed population distribution and its consequent burden on existing urban infrastructures is caused by lack of investment in the smaller towns. As we know that there is considerably large population living in rural areas, the development of smaller towns that are closer to these habitats would allow for a more balanced economic growth. Generally, there has been a bias within urban studies against small towns, where the idea of the ‘urban’ has always been seen to be ideally manifested in the big city. Large investments in big cities have often been justified as they are perceived to be ‘engines’ of development and growth. Even in cultural terms, the big city has always been glorified, as a space where conditions of modernity come together to develop art and a more sophisticated form of living. Yet, many scholars of cities still glamorize big cities and tend to influence the shape of imaging urban futures. While in reality, not only are smaller towns more manageable, they also have a more intimate relationship with their surrounding regions and more often than not, these contiguities are what sustains their economies. A country such as India with a significantly high rural population would do well to shift the focus of urban investments to these smaller townships. With new communication and transport technologies, there is no reason to believe that those spaces cannot also become important centres of art, culture and commerce and help us transform our notions of emerging India.

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