India’s cities are centres of wealth creation and accumulation, but the low level of urban governance means the poor are caught in urban spatial poverty traps
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Two reports released this week show the dilemma of Indian urbanization. According to the Knight Frank Wealth Report 2017, Mumbai ranks 21st in the global City Wealth Index, while Delhi comes in at 35. However, the annual survey of city systems for 2016 shows that unlike the wealth report, Indian metros—and Indian cities in general—score extremely poorly compared with global counterparts when it comes to urban governance.
This contrast points to the problems Indian urbanization faces—an issue this year’s Economic Survey has addressed as well. Plainly, as has been the case historically in every country, India’s cities are centres of wealth creation and accumulation. This is good. But the poor level of urban governance means that while the rich may be able to compensate for the deficiencies of the state, large numbers of the poor are caught in urban spatial poverty traps.
This pattern of urbanization is unhealthy on multiple levels—economic, political and social. It must be addressed if India’s urban future is to realize its potential.