This is not something unique to Hyderabad. As the UN-Habitat
statistics demonstrate that in the past decade, the period
of the greatest wealth creation in history, cities recorded
largest ever growth. But there is a catch here; the global
economic forces are unregulated. As a consequence their
benefits are limited to only those sections of society which
can compete at global level and the rest, who are not equipped
with good social and physical infrastructure, get left out.
The poverty in rural areas and glittering lights of the
city beckon many to urban areas where the opportunities
are limited, which propels many to live in squalid slums
enduring acute shortage of basic amenities.
condemn globalization for exacerbating inequalities in cities,
which is the easiest thing to do, would do little in finding
a fair solution. On the other hand, to see globalization
as panacea for all the ills of the society would be foolhardy.
It is the inherent nature of global economic forces to exacerbate
inequalities, as they are propelled by profit motives rather
than by the desire to promote larger common good. It is
the state that should offset the pernicious effects of globalization
through its creative interventions by ensuring that the
benefits of globalization percolate to all sections of society.
This involves proper deployment of a society's resources
to ensure that basic amenities are provided to the underprivileged
and opportunities for vertical mobility are available to
all. Tragically, this is not a case with our government.
A few illustrations will underscore the point.
government has been spending crores of rupees on beautifying
the precincts of Tank Bund. Nothing wrong, but contrast
this with government efforts in saving water bodies in and
around Hyderabad. Hyderabad once had 532 lakes or water
bodies. Today, as per 'government statistics' only 170 water
bodies have survived. It is only after judicial intervention
that the government has started making some half-hearted
attempts to save these lakes from encroachments. The consequence
of this myopic obsession with one mega project and the callous
disregard for others has resulted in acute water shortage
in the city. To cite another example, the government's proactive
approach in facilitating mega housing/construction projects
should be appreciated but, contrast this with the approach
towards shelter-less people in the city. It is estimated
that there are approximately 60,000 - 70,000 homeless in
the city. So far, the government has not made any credible
attempt to provide public-shelters or night-shelters to
protect this segment of population from biting cold or scorching
heat. The only 'approach' the government has been adopting
towards the shelter-less has been to clean them off the
streets whenever there is a visiting dignitary. This reluctance
to address the concerns of the poor will only increase their
deprivation. This deprivation, in the context of ostentatious
life styles of the few, will become a fertile breeding ground
for crime and violence. Already the evidence suggests such
possibilities. For instance, in 2000 there were 1,161 burglaries
in the city, which witnessed a quantum jump in 2003 with
almost 2000 burglaries.
the arrival of multi-national corporations and software
firms in the last decade did generate wealth in our city.
However, the experience of last decade also demonstrates
that the government needs to take steps to help large sections
of population to share the benefits of globalization. It
is only the fusion of the global economic forces and high
quality urban governance, which will make our cities true
wealth creators and heavens of opportunity.