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Village and city: One needs the other more than ever

Published: May. 28, 2024
Updated: Jun. 28, 2024

ANOTHER election has come and gone without the problems of development getting the attention they deserve. Manifestoes, campaigns and speeches haven’t exceeded the usual freebies and demagoguery of the political class. If you were out looking for a modern vision of a fast growing and urbanizing India, it is unlikely that you found it.  

As we go to press with the June issue, voting is in its final phases. A future government’s big challenge will be to address the many transitions that the country is making. Not least among them is the process of urbanization.

In this magazine we have over years of coverage sought to do away with the false divide between city and village. We make yet another attempt to bring reporting of rural and urban into a single space with our cover story on income from bamboo and a longish interview with architect Kirtee Shah.

Concern that the rural economy doesn’t provide the opportunities that keep people from turning up in cities should be matched with concern for cities themselves and the fragile condition they are in. For urbanization to flourish both cities and villages will jointly have to do better. Good economic sense lies in creating a balance.

Both our cities and villages need a new worldview that recognizes their uniqueness in terms of culture, topography, people and traditions. Their problems of the environment, infrastructure and access to livelihoods are much the same and as they worsen rapidly, time is running out for solutions.

Many of the opportunities for villages are embedded in their biodiversity and natural wealth. Our cover story on the lathi bamboo shows how people discover their own paths to local prosperity. We love doing such stories that reflect a vibrant, creative and entrepreneurial India waiting to be recognized. So much better would it be if policymakers and governments could recognize such potential and help it flower. People in rural areas and farming itself deserve better recognition for what they can achieve. 

Cities, similarly, suffer from a lack of recognition of their true potential. Urban planning in India is either non-existent or out of date. Political power hasn’t devolved to municipal bodies. Completely lacking in any Indian city is the kind of professional expertise that an urban explosion requires.

We’ve interviewed Kirtee Shah because he has been rallying people to find solutions through a series of webinars. He has also been roping in government. Making Indian cities functional is a huge task made even bigger by the need for carrying villages along so that they draw on each other instead of being two different worlds.


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