By Erin Harrison
In a quest to better understand the impacts of a phenomenon known as “neo-urbanization,” Alcatel-Lucent Market and Consumer Insight groups have teamed up with IMRB International to piece together this growth puzzle by traveling to specific territories of India. The ultimate goal is to predict how this rapid progression will unfold in the next five to 10 years. Urbanization is modernizing many areas of the world that were previously without access to healthcare, education, employment – and technology.
As highlighted in the first of this continuing series on the group’s fact-finding tour, the team has been filing almost daily blogs on their experiences and the reports on the second leg are fascinating.
Most recently, the group toured the Bhiwadi and Gurgaon, NCR (National Capital Region) area, to explore how in our hyperlinked and interconnected worlds, the rise of skyscrapers in one section of a city affect people living in the others and how increased migration impacts the social and cultural fabric of the society.
In visiting with the people of Gurgaon – which saw an almost 75 percent growth in population during the last 10 years – the group discovered how mobile communications has improved their lives and given them greater opportunities not only professionally and financially, but also on a personal level.
In other areas, industrial sprawl has significantly changed the landscape. Not far from Gurgaon, in the neighboring state of Rajasthan, lies Bhiwadi, which is being touted as Asia’s third largest industrial hub. In 2009, for example, Honda established a second production unit in Dharuhera, the industrial area of Bhiwadi. Surrounding the industrial parks of Bhiwadi, one finds small clusters of evolving communities where people have migrated in search of better livelihoods.
Just days prior, the team was in Noida, a growing city also in the National Capital Region. This previously infrastructure poor area close to the Delhi was a must see because since its conception in 1976, it has become the largest planned industrial township in all of Asia. The juxtaposition of how Noida has grown as the result of the deployment of modern infrastructure, particularly its transportation and communications systems, versus still rural nearby areas gave the team important reference points for their research. In fact, as they note at the end of their observations:
The co-existence of the traditional and the modern is slowly becoming a characteristic of rural life, as well. This raises a critical question: Has the periphery become the new centre? What’s clear – however this question is answered – is that the shifting centers of urbanization are completing changing how life is lived.
Reading the blog entries as the journey continues has been instructive. Already the Alcatel-Lucent group is discovering that a growing number of economic opportunities for a newer generation of youngsters and migrants is imminent. People settling down in these areas are evolving a hybrid culture – a mix of local values with global aspirations. But class boundaries of class still divides society sharply.
It is possible then, that the future of neo-urbanization will be a hybrid of the survival of the fittest combined with improved opportunities thanks to more advanced technology and mobile communications.You are encouraged to learn more about ALU’s Market and Consumer Insight (MCI) organization’s efforts, and bookmark this page to stay updated on the live research as the group next travels to Coimbatore city in southern India. Read, hear and see what neo-urbanization in India can teach us about the role of ICT in accelerating economic development in a rapidly changing part of the world.