(TOI Editorial New Delhi, Friday 19 October 2012)
Cities remain neglected, even though more and more Indians are coming into cities, villages are fast 'becoming' cities, much of the nation’s wealth is being generated in cities...
..for the first time, the majority of the world's population - nearly 3.3 billion - now live in urban…rather than rural areas.." (quoted in landmark The State of the World's Cities, UN HABITAT Report 2006)
In 1900, 10% lived in cities - by 2050, 75% will. (The Endless City. London School of Economics and Deutsche Bank's Urban Age Project 2007. Phaidon Press: London)
In twenty years, one tenth of all humanity will reside in Indian cities.
(McKinsey Global Institute Report, April 2010 )
(images of city infrastructure, overcrowding, overflowing drains, accidents etc)(Home Page photos: Nos 5446, 2589, 602, 4752, 4753, 5460...)
This statement is not a stereotype of population explosion but new and faster choices being made to live in cities not in villages by a larger and larger number of people.
By 2015, in a very short span, there will be more megacities - 10 million inhabitants or more - in India and China than in Europe and the USA, where modern cities first emerged and established themselves, slowly.
The increase in numbers is not in terms of unit space alone.
The living environment for large sections of humanity is now marked by contrast, instability and violence. City growth has been accompanied by greater complexity: social - original inhabitants are outnumbered by strangers, 'outsiders', often marked as criminal, unwanted, are targeted by authorities.
65% of New York belongs to ethnic minorities. 56% of London was not born in England economic - informal, street cultures of service and commerce (in food, waste, housekeeping, clothes-care, spare parts, equipment repair and re-use, traditional rural crafts) co-exist with shopping malls, corporate offices and primarily service driven enterprise. 91% of London is employed in the service sector political – the powerful and the privileged, are visible and vocal while the lives of the underprivileged are censored and kept out of sight.
But it is this new mix, which makes cities possible and lends distinctiveness to public spaces, otherwise increasingly being reduced to monotony and a boring sameness.
Cities must move to the forefront of national and supranational agendas and priorities…Institutions like the United Nations and the World Bank…have principally viewed poverty as a rural phenomenon..they have lacked a cohesive framework for thinking about and acting in cities...
More recently, the division between rural and urban in the Indian government policy has been questioned. Calling for effective measures to improve the efficiency of social sector programmes, the Economic Survey for 2011-12 has suggested extending the government's ambitious rural jobs scheme MGNREGS to urban areas, strengthening panchayati raj institutions (PRIs) and skill improvement for enhanced employability.
JnNURM is a unique project dedicated to the redevelopment of India’s cities, as India has traditionally primarily focused on the development of rural areas, especially its underdeveloped villages. The 2011 census indicates that urban cities and towns account for 55 % of GDP in India, even though a smaller section of the population lives in the latter, it is more dense.