India Insight

Navigating the obstacle course of India’s SimCities

The Indian government is belatedly waking up to the fact it needs to build new cities and industrial hubs in order to sustain the growth that is supposed to propel the country to super economy status in the 21st century.

But it might be a case of too much, too late as India sets out to build 24 new, industrial cities along a planned dedicated freight corridor from the political capital, New Delhi, to the financial capital, Mumbai priced at a cool $90 billion. Costs aside, it’s a big ask in a country known for its mulish bureaucracy and maddening red-tape, its violent protests over land, and endemic corruption. Even building a bridge (like the Mumbai Sea Link) or highways (like the Golden Quadrilateral) in India can be a struggle.

Dholera, Gujarat: spot of a future Indian city

But a handful of Indian civil servants tasked with making the SimCity dream a reality seem determined to chart a path through the obstacle course of Indian development projects.

Here are six reasons why they might be successful.

De-risking Indian infra projects

“There is no poverty of funds in the world to my mind,” said Amitabh Kant, who heads the Delhi Mumbai Industrial Corridor (DMIC) project. “There is a poverty of well-structured projects.”

In India that means two things: getting the land in place first – the number one hurdle for any development project – and then trudging through the slow process of getting the clearances, like the 44 clearances needed for a single power plant.

Is India really the world’s fifth most powerful country?

India is the world’s fifth most powerful country, according to a New Delhi-authored national security document, the Times of India reported on Wednesday, as Indian analysts placed the emerging nation above major European powers.

Outranking traditional global powers such as the UK, France and Germany, India’s ballooning population, defense capabilities and economic clout were cited as reasons for its position behind only the U.S., China, Japan and Russia in India’s National Security Annual Review 2010, which will be officially released by the country’s foreign ministry next week.

Its statistical foundations in terms of population numbers and GDP aside — in terms of purchasing power parity, it should be noted — India’s experience of wielding power on the global stage of late, boosted by its temporary seat on the United Nations Security Council, has been less encouraging.

from Russell Boyce:

Asia – A Week in Pictures September 12, 2010

As the anniversary of the 9/11 attack coincided with Eid celebrations, Florida based Pastor Terry Jones announced that he would burn the Koran as a protest  to plans to site a Muslim cultural centre near Ground Zero , stoking tensions in Asia.  Add into the mix millions in Pakistan suffering from lack of water, food and shelter after floods, a parliament election in   Afghanistan and a U. S. -led  military campaign against the Taliban around Kandahar -  photographers in the region had lots of raw material to work with.

Raheb's picture of relief and joy caught in the harsh light of a direct flash seems to explode in a release of tension as news spreads that Pastor Jones had cancelled his plans to burn the Koran. It has to be said that ironically earlier in the day in Pakistan US flags were burned in protest against the planned protest.

AFGHANISTAN/

 Afghan protestors shout anti U.S slogans as they celebrate after learning that U.S. pastor Terry Jones dropped his plans to burn copies of the Koran, in Herat, western Afghanistan September 12, 2010. REUTERS/Raheb Homavandi

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