India's Decade of Development: Looking Back at the Last 10 Years, and Looking Forward to the Next 20

Bajpai, Nirupam; Sachs, Jeffrey D.

In 2011, looking back at the first decade of the 21st century — 2000-2010 — we strongly believe that this decade indeed can be called — India's Decade of Development. We elaborate why. Going forward however, India will face enormous challenges in the areas of rural development, urban sustainability, national infrastructure, and human capital and population. India will add hundreds of millions of people to the urban economy in the years and decades ahead. India’s cities need to be safe, efficient, pleasant to live in, supported by infrastructure (water, sewerage, electricity, transport, etc.), able to create jobs which are globally competitive, etc. Briefly put, India needs a revolution in sustainable urban planning. Sustainable cities mean: walk able, mix used areas, public transport, urban planning, public health and other services, and climate resilient especially coastal cities. To be able to create large scale job opportunities will mean solid systems of education-apprenticeship, vocational training, etc., perhaps along the German lines that link schooling with early labor-market entry. On the national infrastructure front, inter-city rail upgrading, sustainable and secure energy, watershed management (river-linking to the extent that this is a sound and safe concept), dams policy, fiber connectivity nationally, ports and airports, etc. India will also need an integrated, life-cycle, population scale vision of human capital accumulation. This includes: Population stabilization and early childhood development, especially to overcome the scars of under-nutrition, which may be India’s greatest plague. On the education front, education for all with improvements in quality of education (to improve teaching and learning outcomes) and education-to-job linkages will be critical. Manpower for skill and occupational needs in the next twenty years will be high as the economy urbanizes, modernizes, and becomes more service-sector oriented. India is moving from the phase of market reforms (1990-2010) to the new era of sustainable development. The priority now must be not only on growth, but on the triple bottom line of growth, equity/inclusion, and environmental sustainability. The sustainability challenge will occupy India and the world for decades, not just for years. All countries face the challenge of adapting to ongoing climate change, managing growing water scarcity, protecting endangered ecosystems and species, etc. As one of the world's most crowded country, India faces this challenge more urgently than others.

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More About This Work

Academic Units
Columbia Global Centers--Mumbai
Columbia Global Centers--Mumbai, Columbia University
Columbia Global Centers--South Asia Working Papers, 3
Published Here
September 13, 2012