Keywords: regional development, agglomeration economies, sustainable development, Indian megacities, sustainability, India, urbanisation, cities, bazaar towns, urban development
Regional development in neoliberal era: a missed opportunity for sustainable development
Over a century back, while commenting on the rapid urbanisation process in Europe, the great philosopher and sociologist in Marxist tradition, Lefebvre (1996, p.119) had stated that 'the expanding city attacks the countryside, corrodes and dissolves it'. In Indian context, the above statement also comes to be true about the fate of city regions and their countryside. Lesser than a dozen cities in India, which grew under the colonial legacy, became the hub of economic activity, and their peripheries turned into 'septic fringes' [Giddens, (2001), p.589], crowded by poor migrants from all across deprived regions. The Indian Government, with limited resources and its priority elsewhere for tackling impoverishment of the countryside, by and large, ignored any systematic urban development. The opening up of Indian economy through market driven paradigm of growth has given further impetus to these cities, which are now competing to become 'world class' through their mega transformation. In the process, traditional systems of regional production and distribution are being reorganised or disintegrated under the present global era. In the process (under the 'shining India') what is the fate of thousands of 'bazaar towns' and their regions is the main focus of the present paper.