Vijayawada’s inclusive expansion
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Land has been very much in the news these days. There are many who keep talking about the rural-urban divide, and land of course is the principal bone of contention. Recognising the importance of rural-urban synergy in development, we will have to put scarce land to alternative uses of farming as well as urbanisation — which, in any case, is inevitable.
If we want the Indian economy to grow at 8 per cent per annum, this growth in GDP will have to come from industry and services. Nowhere in the world has agriculture grown faster than 4 to 4.5 per cent per annum. So, either we decide to lower our ambition, and grow at rates of economic growth which are much slower — and live in poverty for much longer — or we facilitate urbanisation so that our cities and towns can be the engines of growth, as was envisaged even by those who fought for our political independence.
In 1938, the Indian National Congress had set up a national planning committee under Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru. Even though the committee's work was interrupted by World War II, it is known that they talked of doubling or trebling national wealth every 10 years. This broadly implies a target growth rate of GDP ranging between 7 and 11 per cent per annum. Six decades after independence, our economy is beginning to deliver growth which comes close to what the national planning committee had then set out as a reasonable target.
Ironically, it is our success on the growth front which has brought the land issue to the fore. The Indian economy has made a phenomenal transition from the bottom of the growth heap in the first three decades after Independence to one of the world's fastest-growing economies today. The rapidly growing sectors of industry and services need space to grow. The question is how agriculture can make room for the growth of towns and cities.
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