Interview: Banashree Banerjee

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I made a presentation on urban villages in Delhi as well as Mumbai, and how they differ from small towns and fringe villages in these cities. It’s quite significant, really.
Because these are villages which are located in the middle of the city. So the kind of opportunities they have to access urban jobs is quite significant.
On the other hand, the poor who leave are really the migrants who have come from the villages in search of better employment opportunities.
And they are quite poor. They live in very poor conditions… perhaps the whole family staying in a room and sharing services like latrines and bathrooms.
And the environmental conditions are not too good.
So even though the access to jobs is much better, but then when you look at it from the environmental point of view, they are certainly much worse off than the poor in smaller towns as well as in peripheral areas.
The rural-urban linkages of these people are really very complex.
First of all, you had the original villagers whose farmland was swallowed up for city development. Those are the original villagers.
And then you have the tenants, the renters, who are again the migrants from the rural areas who come and then find rental housing in these places.
Actually Pura has an innovative program which aims at two things: one is improving living conditions in villages and second is that with this improved infrastructure provided to villages, it also attracts jobs and industry so that people don’t have to migrate to the city to find work.
Pura 有一项创新型项目,其目的主要有两个:第一是改善农村的生活环境,第二是通过加强农村的基础设施建设,吸引更多行业进驻,创造更多工作机会,让居民不必移居城市寻找工作。
But that part of it is still to be realized. But what has happened is that in the larger villages that have been selected for the Pura program, we certainly see a better way of life of the villagers themselves.
但这一步还尚未实现。眼下,PURA 项目已经在一些规模较大的农村开展,并极大地提升了村民的生活质量。
They have better facilities for water, for sanitation and so on.
I think there are a lot of similarities between India and China if you look at it on the surface.
But I think the political and administrative systems of these two countries are quite different.
In the case of India, where we have a democracy and the voices of the poor can reach much more easily than they can in the case of China I feel.
On the other hand, China is much stronger in terms of implementation and enforcement than India is.
And that also in the Indian case there are too many voices that democracy throws up, with diverse kinds of interests, which hampers development.
We have fantastic policies, but then the implementation of these policies is a big question, especially when they are for the poor.
But I think China that way stands a better chance because you don’t have so many of these different voices emerging.
So I think there are give and take both ways. But what we can learn from each other is, that we are both big countries and emerging as big economies and the interest of both these countries is to develop towards more inclusive growth which also includes the poor.
So I think there is a lot we can learn.
For instance, India can learn a lot from the health system, the education system in China. And perhaps China can learn from India about how to represent the interests of the poor in higher levels of government.