Sunday, May 27, 2012

Urbanization or reverse ruralization?

"The soul of India lives in its villages" goes a famous saying by Mahatma Gandhi. He was a champion of village development, and believed that India would progress only if its villages progressed. Nehru on the other hand was of the view that urbanization and rapid industrialization alone would carry the nation forward.
Innumerable debates rage about the benefits of either model. If one were to crudely generalize, politicians tend to prefer village areas, and the so called "air conditioned room arm chair specialists" prefer urbanization. There is even a book called "Triumph of the City" which champions urbanization. Before reading the book, I too loved and dreamed to the "suburbian" lifestyle. Big sprawling house with a drive down to a less congested city centre. This vision satisfied both my aesthetic and my environmentally conscious mind; but after reading the book I found that there was nothing environmentally friendly about the "suburbian" lifestyle. More on this book in another post.
One interesting trend that has emerged from the rapid construction boom in all cities is the extent to which the apartment complexes have spread to the far outskirts. Most of these areas used to fall outside the municipal limits of the "original" city. Once a upon a time you would have classified them as "rural" areas.
So, would you define the process as urbanization of the rural areas or a return to ruralization for the urban dweller? Keep in mind that we are just dealing with semantics here. True re-ruralization would actuslly mean one getting back to agriculture/animal husbandry etc and living like a true villager - a simple life without malls/24 hour electricity (wherever it exists) :-)