Prime Minister Narendra Modi, at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum on Tuesday, said it is time we reflected on the post COVID-19 requirements of the world, and a good starting point would be the rejuvenation of urban centres.
“We are at a very important point of history. Over the next two decades, India and some of the African nations are going to witness the biggest wave of urbanisation,” Mr Modi said. “But the COVID-19 pandemic has posed enormous challenges before us. It has shown us that cities that are our growth engines are also vulnerable. Many cities around the world declared themselves on the brink of the greatest economic downturn since the Great Depression.
“The biggest question before the entire world is how to restart. Restart will not be possible unless we reset our mindsets, processes and practices. I think the historic reconstruction efforts after the two World Wars can give us several lessons. COVID-19 gives us an opportunity to develop a new protocol to develop resilient systems.
“We should think of the post COVID-19 requirements of the world. A good starting point would be the rejuvenation of our urban centres.
“There were worldwide instances of resistance against the lockdown norms, However, Indian cities meticulously followed the precautions for the pandemic,” he said.
“Cities are vibrant engines of growth. People often migrate to cities because cities give them work. But isn’t it time to make cities work for people? COVID-19 gives us a chance to give them better housing facilities, better work environment. During the lockdown, many cities witnessed cleaner air and so many heard the chirping of birds not heard before. Can we not build sustainable cities where this is the norm, not the exception?
Mr Modi spoke about how the COVID-19 lockdown has changed the way offices work and asked if the trend of videoconferencing will continue.
“During the pandemic, technology has also helped us maintain continuity in our work. Thanks to a simple tool of videoconferencing, this also poses an interesting question for the post-COVID world. Will we continue with the learnings of COVID and use videoconferencing or will we fly to a different continent to attend a meeting?” he asked.
“Our cities cannot prosper without availability of affordable housing. Realising this, we launched the Housing for all program in 2015,” he said. “I am happy to note that we are well on our way and will deliver more than 10 million houses before the target date of 2022.
“We have selected 100 smart cities and these cities have selected projects worth ₹2 lakh crore, and projects worth ₹1,40,000 crore have been completed or are nearing completion.
“I would like to remind one thing to all of you. If you are looking to invest in urbanisation, mobility, innovation, sustainable solutions, India has exciting opportunities for you.
“India is well on its way towards urban transformation,” he concluded.
(Inputs from Vikas Dhoot)