Prime Minister Lays Stress On Investment In Urban Centres

In the post Covid-19 world, India will be among a few countries which will be a shining example of spirited economic growth. Several optimistic projections are being made about the country’s economy in the coming fiscal year.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call to investors to invest in India at the 3rd Annual Bloomberg New Economy Forum needs to be seen in this perspective. Indeed, blessed with a vibrant democracy, a business friendly atmosphere, huge market and a pro-business minded government, India is the solution to investors’ quest for good returns.

 Whether be the issues of mobility, urbanization or innovation—India offers exciting opportunities to investors. Prime Minister said the ongoing pandemic has shown the world that cities, which are also growth engines, are the most vulnerable. However, without further indulging in negativity of the Covid-19, he juxtaposed the pandemic with opportunity; Opportunity to reset things for developmental purposes.

 Undoubtedly, the pandemic triggered by Covid-19 has wrought havoc on what used to be community gatherings, sports and recreational activities and education across the world. Today, they are not the same as they used to be in the pre-Covid-19 situation. But the question is how to restart things. The Prime Minister’s response in this regard was unequivocal; he said restart can be done by rejuvenating urban centres.     

But for this, a reset of mind-set is required. Prime Minister Modi rightly observed that the post Covid-19 world will need a restart and this can’t happen without resetting processes and practices. By stating this, the Prime Minister was trying to draw investors’ attention towards investment opportunities which are galore in India’s urban areas, especially smart cities and urban centres.

 He was of the opinion that Covid-19 has given governments chances to accelerate the process of making cities more liveable for people. There is a need to build sustainable cities where a cleaner environment is the norm and not an exception. He said, he was looking at a future where a major chunk of education, healthcare and shopping may happen online. But at the same time he wishes an India where urban centres have the amenities of a city but the spirit of a village.

Undoubtedly, the main objective behind presenting such a wish was to sensitize the potential investors about opportunities in urban areas of India, where the developmental landscape has changed in the last few years.

Digital India, Start-up India, affordable housing, Real Estate (Regulation) Act and Metro Rail in 27 cities have helped in changing India’s urban landscape. Now there is a target to build close to 1000-kms. of Metro Rail system in the country by 2022. By undertaking such initiatives, India has twin goals: One, to create job avenues in urban areas and second, making Indian cities modern, clean, systematic and attractive.  

 Such yardsticks have been applied in the case of 100 Smart Cities selected through a two-stage process. It involved a nationwide competition upholding the philosophy of cooperative and competitive federalism. To drive home his message among investors that the Smart City projects are not ineffective, rather active and progressing well, the Prime Minister said these Smart Cities have prepared projects worth almost Rs 2 lakh crore or US$ 30 billion.

 Besides, projects worth Rs 1,40,000 crore or US$ 20 billion dollars have been completed or are nearing completion. By presenting a detailed picture of the work on the Smart City project, Prime Minister Modi put across a strong message that his government was committed to take India to new heights in the area of urbanization.

 Already, programmes like building houses for the poor, development of improved infrastructure, boosting public transport and providing clean drinking water in urban areas are on.  According to the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs, the country will have to develop up to 800 million square metres each year till 2030 to accommodate 40 percent of the population who are expected to live in Indian cities.

Script: Shankar Kumar, Senior Journalist