Cities and urbanization has been a constant theme of development — and consequently of this blog. Urban economist Ed Glaeser in his book, “Triumph of the City: How Our Greatest Invention Makes Us Richer, Smarter, Greener, Healthier, and Happier” argues that case. In a guest post on Freakonomics, Glaeser says that “to get America growing again, it’s time to unleash our cities.”
A wonderful side-effect of blogging is that readers help you with your education. Long-time readers know of my obsession with urbanization as an instrument of development. So whenever an article on the importance of cities and urbanization appears in the popular media, I get a dozen emails from people telling me about it. One such piece is the NY Times magazine Dec 17th piece “A Physicist Solves the City” by Jonah Lehrer about Geoffrey West. Thanks to all who send me stuff to read and I sincerely appreciate your help with my continued education. Urbanization and cities matter to me, and so does my education.
Rediff recently published a slide show titled “India’s soaring ambition: 5 new cities by 2015“.(Hat tip: Sudipta Chatterjee.) I am thrilled to see that some Indian leaders are thinking big. Narendrabhai Modi, the chief minister of Gujarat leads in thinking big about India’s urbanization. Continue reading
In the February 2010 issue of Pragati I argue why India needs new livable, sustainable and well-managed cities. The text of the article appears below, for the record.
Cities are the engines of growth. Therefore, a policy that promotes urbanization of the population is an indispensible instrument for economic growth and development. In the following TED Talk, Paul Romer, a world-class growth economist at Stanford, makes the case.
Urbanization of the population implies greater demand for housing in cities. There has to be a portfolio of housing options available for the diversity of people which constitute a city. I am familiar with the property prices in the San Francisco Bay area, one of the highest in the US. Even I get a sticker shock when I see the prices of housing in Mumbai. I cannot imagine how the poor manage to survive. Which partly explains why about half of Mumbai’s 11 million people live in slums.
Last week Saturday I was at the ISB in Hyderabad to attend a working group on urbanization. One of the most important components of urbanization is housing. At the ISB, Dhaval Monani is working on affordable housing and has plans in place for putting up low cost around 250 sft homes (on 450 sft land parcels) for around Rs 2 lakhs (or $4,000). They will be built around industrial areas which are often situated in the outskirts of cities. That’s an exciting project.
In a short article in SEED magazine, theoretical physicist and president of the Santa Fe Institute, Geoffrey West explains “why the future of humanity and the long-term sustainability of the planet are inextricably linked to the fate of our cities.”
A few excerpts below the fold. Continue reading