A good friend Alok Baadkar tipped me to this article by Mr. Ravi Venkatesan of Microsoft. He sums up the issue well. As private wealth grows so does the public squalor. Being from Bangalore, he surely knows the story rather well:
India, and most Indians, are getting wealthier. With a per capita income of $6,000 (PPP), India is now a lower middle-income nation. If our GDP continues to grow at a modest 7% CAGR, millions of Indians will grad ually escape poverty and hundreds of millions of us will grow steadily more affluent. The probability of this seems fairly reasonable -not because of the competence of any government –but because of the aspirations, drive and entrepreneurship of millions of Indians, especially young Indians.
But even as we grow wealthier, the quality of life especially in urban India will continue to plummet. I live in Koramangala, Bangalore, the epicenter of India’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, a place brimming with talent and energy . But it is also brimming with mounds of festering garbage. The stench of sewage permeates the air. A commute to the airport that once took an hour now takes more than two. However, Koramangala’s residents have it good compared to those who live in other suburbs like Whitefield.This story of unlivable cities is repeated across India. Delhi’s residents complain about the barely breathable air and awful traffic. Mumbaikars lament the disappearance of public spaces. Rain has shut Chennai down. As population and consumption rise, we are seeing the degradation of everything public -infrastructure, justice, law and order, healthcare, education -from bad to unbearable.