In the urbanisation race, India seems desperate to catch up with China. Yet this highly networked country can build a future where cities do not rule supreme.
The world is in awe of China’s relentless capacity to produce gargantuan cities, each outdoing the most recent superlative that describes its predecessor. If Shenzhen and Shanghai are megacities, and the Pearl-River Delta a sprawling urban agglomeration, then what should we call the 130 million-strong Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei city-region the government is currently planning? A gigacity?
While China just keeps building bigger and higher, India has also supersized its old colonial cities, following the centripetal model of dense cores and endless peripheries. White collar workers in Delhi or Mumbai, just as in Beijing or Shanghai, are pushed out to new dormitory towns, hours away from their jobs. A part of the Indian working class may have managed to remain close to their place of work, but at the price of being squeezed into insecure, under-serviced settlements.
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