Bengaluru leads India’s march into fastest-growing cities list

Country to occupy 17 of 20 top spots between 2019 and 2035, says recent report

By DTE Staff
Published: Thursday 06 December 2018

The world may be concerned about the effect of rapid urbanisation on the Earth’s climate—the 24th Conference of Parties under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change is currently underway in Katowice, Paris—but do not expect any dramatic change in the pattern. For, the world's economy will continue to be propelled by cities and much of that push will come from Asia, particularly India, according to a recent report.

Bengaluru will have the fastest growing economy, with its gross domestic product jumping 8.5 per cent per annum year-on-year, by 2035, predicted analysis firm Oxford Economics in its report Global Cities: The future of the world’s leading urban economies to 2035.

'India's Silicon Valley' will be followed by Bangladesh Capital Dhaka (predicted GDP growth" 7.6 per cent. But the next two spots will again be occupied by India: financial hub Mumbai (6.6 per cent) and Capital Delhi (6.5 per cent) will be at No.3 and No.4 respectively.

To put things into perspective, the world's 780 major cities that the report takes into account will grow at an average 2.8 per cent per annum. The world economy is pegged to grow at 2.6 per cent.

Though India and Bangladesh will corner the top of the fastest growing cities' chart, China will have the largest pie in the top 10, with four cities: Shenzen, which links Hong Kong to mainland China; the northeastern port city of Tianjin, the traditional financial hub Shanghai and Chongquing in the southwest.

Jakarta and Manila, the capitals of Indonesia and Philippines, complete the list, which means none of the fastest-growing urban centres will be outside south, east or southeast Asia.

According to the report, 17 of the 20 fastest-growing cities in the world between 2019 and 2035 will be Indian, "with Bengaluru (Bangalore), Hyderabad, and Chennai among the strongest performers".

The worry

It is safe to assume that such growth will be on the back of a burgeoning working population. The faster the cities’ economies grow, the more migrants they will attract. This, in turn, will pressure already scarce resources such as land and water. More inhabitants will require more energy, adding to the carbon footprint of these cities.

Mumbai, in fact, is pegged by the report to be the 10th most populated city in 2035 with 23.1 million people. The metropolis already had 18.4 million people, according to Census 2011. Urban agglomerations of Delhi and Kolkata followed closely with 16.4 million and 14 million respectively. Chennai and Bengaluru more than 8.5 million each.

Such massive populations have proved to be taxing for these cities. The once-quaint garrison town of Bengaluru is now bursting at its seams. Its famous lakes now regularly make the headlines for frothing with fire.

Capital Delhi has been fighting a long battle with air pollution and plunging groundwater level (like Bengaluru) while Mumbai has to deal with excessive rainfall. Rapid urbanisation of of its fringes is also expected to hurt Kolkata.

Overall, while the prospects of economic growth predicted by the report may be exciting for a large section, the need for careful urban planning to mitigate future woes can’t be ruled out.

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