Can we ignore infrastructure?

The governments in cities and at the center are well aware of the fact that cities cannot be ignored. The country cannot prosper, industries cannot grow, and jobs cannot be created if we chose to ignore cities and their needs. India has primarily been a rural country and a majority of its population still lives and works in villages so why do we need to shift focus. The reasons are many. The first is that demography has begun to change and the last census in 2011 has indicated that population growth in urban areas has surpassed rural population growth, first time in Indian history since independence.
This means that urban population will grow organically and also through migration from villages. The number of towns and cities in the country will also grow. It is high time governments created an infallible urban management system to govern and manage cities through improvement in their infrastructure and services. The government schemes for urban transformation are all about bringing about these changes. On one side we have Smart Cities Mission which focuses on embedding state-of-the-art management system and building modern infrastructure capable of handling evolving challenges in sync with climate change action plan.
On the other we have AMRUT that strives to build a skilled workforce in municipal corporations that can bring innovative ideas and handle the new system efficiently. The intentions are good but Indian experience in implementing great projects draws a sorry figure and all of us, leaders, bureaucrats, technical experts and more importantly citizens, have to walk an extra mile to ensure these plans do not just remain in pipeline and see the light of the day.
If we look at the investment requirement for building favorable infrastructure then the demand is significantly high in comparison to what we are investing in cities. The funding gap can only be filled if we become successful in bringing in private players from India and abroad. For doing this successfully, we would need to address challenges within our system and make the country more attractive for investment. At present, India is ranked 23rd in the Global Infrastructure Investment Index-2016. As per the report, private investors always lookat those countries which have the strongest growth potential, most secure business environments, well established legislative and regulatory systems and stable political environments. India performs poorly on Business Environment (how attractive a country is for investment, based on indicators such as ease of doing business and freedom from corruption) and Risk (how much risk a country poses to the security of investment returns, based on indicators such as the political terror scale and strength of investor protection). The role of central government is paramount in addressing these issues to bridge the financial gap. However, the country has been successful in bringing in investment from many countries to improve infrastructure but more efforts are required to streamline governance system and improve business environment.

No. We cannot. Infrastructure is the oxygen on which cities thrive and survive. When the cities are contributing almost 65-70 per cent to National GDP and this number is expected to grow further, ignoring proper maintenance of urban infrastructure in any given area concerning cities, or not building new ones to meet the demand will not be a wise move

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