Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Our cities aren't global as yet!

By: Subhadeep Bhattacharjee

New Delhi, Mumbai and Kolkata have barely make the grade of global cities. New Delhi and Mumbai are placed at the 45th and 46th places while Kolkata makes it to the 63rd spot in the list of 65 cities around the world. Our neighbours on the west and east also have made it to the list with Karachi, the only Pakistani metropolis being ranked 60, and Bangladesh capital Dhaka grabbing the 64th spot.

The top three are quite New York, London and Tokyo while Paris, Hong Kong, Chicago, Los Angeles, Singapore, Sydney and Seoul make it to the top ten of the prestigious list released by the Foreign Policy magazine in collaboration with A T Kearney and The Chicago Council on Global Affairs. Bejing which wowed the world with the 2008 Summer Olympics makes it to the 15th spot which will be a huge jewel in the crown for China which recently became the second largest economy in the world overthrowing mighty Japan.

So why are we ranked so low in the list? Poor infrastructure, poor civic facilities, poor connectivity are some of the main reasons for this dismal ranking. There is a section of Indians who will blame overpopulation as the main cause of this backwardness but Tokyo with a population of 13,010,279 and Bejing with 22,000,000 disapprove these theories. Population alone cannot be blamed for the incompetence in the system. We have a huge population and we have to make policies accordingly.

Another reason many would site is the huge rural to urban migration that India sees. Every day hundreds of people from across the country head towards the big cities in search of a better life. But isn't this true with every metropolis in the world? Doesn't New York and Tokyo also see such migration each day. They have to face migration not just from their own coutries but from around the world.

India wants to be the next big superpower but if we rank in such manner we can be one of the big countries in the world but definitely not a superpower. Our governmental policies promote bigger urban villages which sadly most of our metros have become rather than world class cities. Kolkata was once known as the 'City of Palaces' and people wrote poem's on its beauty. But when the white men left the city they took away the skills to govern a city as well. Same is the story with New Delhi and Mumbai.

There is a problem in the way we approach development. Our so called 'poor man's politicians' stress on making the lives of the poor better. In the end they create Dharavis around the country which become the den for criminal politician nexus. The betterment of the cities would equally benefit the poor and the rich if our planning is practical. We need to grow up and take the lead. It's high time we develop some world class cities in India.


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