Building Cities: A View from India

in Urban Planet: Knowledge towards Sustainable Cities
Edited by Thomas Elmqvist, Xuemei Bai, Niki Frantzeskaki, Corrie Griffith, David Maddox, Timon McPhearson, Susan Parnell, Patricia Romero-Lankao, David Simon, and Mark Watkins
Cambridge University Press
2018

In discussions about cities of the future, or perhaps, the future of cities, it is worth noting that one of the largest shifts to urban centers in world history is projected to occur in India in the next few decades. It is estimated that the middle class in Indian cities will more than triple from 31 million in 2013 to 114 million in 2025. Demographically, India is expected to add at least 10 million people to the job market each year for the next two decades. And Indian cities are estimated to be responsible for 75 percent of the country’s GDP in the next 15 years, with plans for a hundred new smart cities in the pipeline. Transitions of such scale place unprecedented pressures on energy resources: there is little doubt that the urban context promises to be a central determinant of the future of Indian energy, and by extension, of the future of India’s development. Unravelling this future, however, is not straightforward. India is starting from a low base of development and faces enormous unmet energy needs, poor energy access, and increasing pressure from interrelated environmental concerns. How then, can it urbanize in a manner where energy needs are met, the local and global environment is preserved, and the economy and energy security are not put at risk?