India’s tier2/3 cities are triggering growth with increased consumption and investment
Mahatma Gandhi saw the future of the country in villages. He wanted the villages to be independent economic units. Self-sufficient villages were the foundation of the Gram Swaraj. For Babasaheb B. R. Ambedkar, however, villages were cesspools of caste prejudice. Villages were where casteism was perpetuated and the poorest and the lowest strata of society were condemned to lead lives of obscurity. Cities, on the other hand, provided freedom and liberation from caste bondage.
In the first few decades after Independence, the planning process was ruralcentric. While the argument for the thrust has its merits, it is also said that the rulers saw votes in the countryside. Only in recent years has Urban India begun to get its dues. While the Manmohan Singh government did do its bit, it is the Narendra Modi government that has given Urban India a New Deal — with its Smart Cities Mission, Amrut and other schemes. Many thought it was only natural because the BJP was always considered a party of urban voters, concentrated in metros and urban centres.
Urbanisation is the predominant reality today. It is often an outcome of industrialisation. Out of the twin marvels of industrialisation and urbanisation, came modernisation — so crucial for strengthening the fabric of our secular republic. With jobs largely at urban centres, came migration. The metros in the country now have creaking infrastructure and clogged roads.
The tier-2 and tier-3 cities on the contrary have the best amenities of the metros, but a far more manageable population density that enables them to provide for just everyone. The shift in focus to the tier – 2 and tier – 3 cities was the reason why we were keen to look at them as India’s engine for future growth, when EY came up with its report on India’s growth paradigm: How markets beyond metros have transformed. The report is rich in statistics that weigh the centrality of tier-2 and tier-3 cities and their untapped potential.
BW Businessworld reporters spoke exclusively with captains of industry and found that even they see the future in tier-2 and tier-3 centres, now that the metropolises have reached their saturation point. Be it in the realm of consumption or investment, the tier-2 and tier-3 centres are the new focal points. Guest columnists like market strategy consultant, Rama Bijapurkar, the father of rural marketing Pradeep Kashyap, brand strategy expert Harish Bijoor and JNU professor Himanshu, were unanimous in their verdict that tier2 and tier-3 cities and towns and the vast rural countryside too, were the future. Our cover story — ‘Bharat powers the India growth story’ draws inspiration from this verdict.
We have said earlier that with cities come jobs. But where are the jobs? Businessworld’s Himani Chandna concludes, after speaking to various industry sources, that the outlook for jobs was the bleakest in three years. Clearly, initiatives like ‘Make in India’ have not helped create jobs. It is time the Modi government — which has otherwise been doing commendable work — delivered on its promise to create jobs. This issue has other interesting narratives — like an exclusive interview with Union HRD minister Prakash Javadekar, an exclusive interview with Malaysian Prime Minister Mohd. Najib Tun Razak, some leadership lessons from Sir Viv Richards and a story on whether 2017 can be the year of renewables in India. Happy Reading!