Category Archives: Newspaper articles

Small towns beat metros in jobs, self-employment

Construction is booming and related jobs are more to be found in smaller towns. These are some of the facets of urban India revealed in a recent NSSO report on employment in cities.

Smaller towns are surging ahead as hubs of jobs and entrepreneurial activity, beating larger cities and even metropolises. While industrial activity declines in big cities, smaller cities and towns are picking up the slack, often displaying a preference for manufacturing at the cost of the services sector.

Subodh Varma, May 24, 2015

Times of India: text here 

Developing model village clusters


Creating central towns with urban facilities for 100 or so villages in each tehsil will prevent wastage of national resources on ‘model villages’ and ‘smart cities’. The Narendra Modi government has launched an ambitious programme for both rural and urban development. In his budget speech, Finance Minister Arun Jaitley said, “The Prime Minister has a vision of developing ‘one hundred smart cities’ as satellite towns of larger cities by modernising the existing mid-sized cities. To provide the necessary focus to this critical activity, I have provided a sum of [Rs.] 7,060 crore in the current fiscal.” For rural areas, Mr. Modi in his Independence Day speech urged each Member of Parliament to make one village of his or her constituency a ‘model village’ by 2016. After 2016, two more villages should be selected and after 2019, at least five model villages must be established by each MP in his/her area.

Patriotism plus passion: stories of 20 entrepreneurs from small towns in India

Madanmohan Rao | April 27, 2014, YOURSTORY

Guess what? The world’s largest company in value-added spices, one of the world’s Top 10 publishing BPOs, India’s biggest exporter of hand-knotted carpets, largest machine tool manufacturer, largest honey exporter, and largest leather exporter all started up in small towns in India, not the big metros.

Over the decades, big ideas and successful entrepreneurs have made a mark in small-town India, as shown by the 20 profiles in the new book by Rashmi Bansal, Take Me Home.


Smaller towns and rural areas are a gold mine that foreign automakers are yet to tap efficiently

Global automakers scour India’s backroads in search of dream market

By Aradhana Aravindan, Reuter,  Sun Feb 2, 2014

As economic torpor suffocates demand for new cars in India’s megacities, incomes are growing faster in small towns and country areas. That’s pushing the likes of General Motors  and Honda Motor Co to fan out in search of buyers in places where fewer than 20 people in every thousand own a car – for now.

Biting the hand that feeds: India’s small towns favor opposition

By Krishna N Das and Shyamantha Asokan in REUTER

From Kasba Bonli, Rajasthan, India, Sunday November 10, 2013

Kasba Bonli is a newly prosperous market town in the northern Indian state of Rajasthan and it should be a perfect advertisement for the ruling Congress party’s pro-farmer policies. Instead the buzz in the bazaar is for the opposition.

Size matters

By R B Bhagat in infochange (full article here)

Size clearly matters in the hierarchy of urban agglomerations. Most programmes including JNNURM are directed at the big cities. Basic civic services including electricity, sanitation and clean drinking water for the poor in small cities and towns are abysmal, and hardly better than rural areas. The widening gap in income levels between rural and urban areas cannot be bridged without developing small cities and towns.

Exclusionary cities: The exodus that wasn’t

By Amitabh Kundu in infochange (full article here)

Yes, the urban population increased more in absolute terms during 2001-11 than rural population. But, no, this is not because distressed agricultural workers are pouring into cities. It’s because census activism has tripled the number of urban centres in Census 2011. In fact, exclusionary policies are discouraging the inflow of rural poor into the mega cities.

Transition towns

By Kalpana Sharma in infochange (full article here)

The 74th constitutional amendment has on paper devolved power to urban local bodies. But even a cursory look at small towns reveals that elected representatives have little knowledge of their powers or responsibilities, cannot read or frame budgets and fail to generate local resources for planned development. Many of these towns are still transitioning between large village and town, with even basic public services absent, particularly for the poor.

Panchayati raj: Failing the urbanization test

Lack of decentralization means municipalities lack power, resources to meet rising aspirations of ‘middle’ India.

An article of Live Mint, Tue, Apr 30 2013, by  Elizabeth Roche  |  Liz Mathew   |  Shamsheer Yousaf.

“A corporation is difficult to deal with,” Hamid says. “There is a long procedure to get projects sanctioned. And then, you have to give bribes for projects that you want to undertake to various officials in the hierarchy. It’s only 35 paise out of every rupee that gets spent for the people and development, 65 paise goes as bribes. It is just a whole lot of trouble to be a part of the corporation.”
In contrast, a panchayat president is better empowered to do things for his people, says Hamid. “There is also a direct interface with the people, this is a very important position.”
Both Othakadai and Silaiman are listed as so-called census towns by the Tamil Nadu census commission website. By definition, they are populous areas—in between officially urban and rural India— where farming has been replaced by other professions or businesses as the main source of livelihood.
And Tamil Nadu is one among six states that have seen a proliferation of census towns, putting pressure on infrastructure and civic amenities. Other states where census towns have proliferated include West Bengal, Kerala, Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Andhra Pradesh.
“Tamil Nadu is most urbanized state in India, according to the 2011 census,” says Karen Coelho, assistant professor for urban governance and reforms at the Madras Institute for Development Studies. “With 44% urbanization, Tamil Nadu has beaten Maharashtra which was at the top in 2001.”


The devolution deficit

By KC Sivaramakrishnan (CPR)

The Indian Express, Wed May 01 2013

Why we need to revisit the 74th Amendment

The National Panchayati Raj Day to mark the enactment of the 73rd Constitutional Amendment was observed on April 24 with due ceremony but little hype. Whatever the reasons for the celebration, even those are not available for the 74th Amendment dealing with municipalities.

Power of the rurban

An article of  The Indian Express, Mon Apr 22 2013

The fast expanding grey area between India’s urban and rural segments — you could call it semi-rural or rurban — is increasingly determining the shape of India’s democracy as well as market economy. This aspirational segment has grown faster than you could imagine and the people here are consuming and voting robustly. The 2009 National Election Study by CSDS found that the much touted “urban voter apathy” was a misnomer in the semi-rural areas with urban characteristics. This segment not only recorded, on average, 10 per cent higher voting than metros like Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai and Bangalore, it also saw higher voting than the rural constituencies.

Tier II, III cities to power future growth: Cushman & Wakefield

With the economic growth in seven top cities in the country beginning to saturate, a number of tier II and III cities have come into reckoning as the growth engines of the future.

What is aiding this is the increasing disposable income of the people that has created immense opportunities for companies looking out for new markets to grow, according to a study by Cushman & Wakefield Research.

in Business Line, by Narayanan, 29 October 2012

India’s census towns face a governance deficit

Governed by panchayats, it is impossible for them to get infrastructure, services a municipality would have provided

C. Chandramouli, who led Census 2011 as the Registrar General of India, compares the urbanizing census towns to early versions of the unplanned sprawl in Gurgaon, near Delhi, and other rapidly growing satellite cities. “You have these huge fancy buildings, but no sewerage or garbage systems, and you have not changed the characteristics of that local (administrative) body,” he said.
Most experts agree that the panchayat is not the ideal governing body for areas beyond a certain size, with a diverse labour market and a healthy consumer economy.
“The panchayat itself possesses no institution for getting any real development work done,” said Pronab Sen, principal adviser to the Planning Commission. “That resides with the state government. Villages have some funds from the state, which they can use for cleaning, desilting, fixing tube wells, but when we are talking about places that have all the characteristics of an urban area, like census towns, then you get into trouble. All of that stuff is simply not within the competence of panchayat.”

Cordelia Jenkins, Makarand Gadgil and Shamsheer Yousaf for live mint, 7th October 2012

Full article here