Aug 23, 2008

India - Get Business friendly

An international team of researchers has just released a Global Urban Competitiveness Report, which takes stock of 500 cities around the world. New York has been found to be the most competitive city in the world, followed, in that order, by London, Tokyo, Paris and Washington, DC. But what's shocking is that although cities across the world have been ranked according to seven parameters of competitiveness, such as enterprise competitiveness, industrial structure, human resources, business environment, living environment and so on, no Indian city features in any of the seven corresponding top 20 lists, with a solitary exception: Mumbai comes in at number 15 on industrial structure. Cities are the catalysts of growth and economic development. The poor representation of Indian cities belies India's status as a rising economic power. This should be an opportunity to look at what is wrong with our cities. Do they measure up to the other major cities' industries, people, multinational corporations, as well as living, social and business environments? Perhaps not at all. We need to step up to the plate and work hard to make our cities competitive. Let's face it, Indian cities lack many things that go towards making cities competitive - good infrastructure, enterprise management, business environment and quality of life. It's a good idea to benchmark Indian cities against criteria that make cities globally competitive, and then work on each of those criteria to improve a city's overall ranking. Bangalore is a good example of a city that has gone the other way. Although it gave rise to the phrase "being Bangalored", it appears to be losing its competitive edge due to poor infrastructure and lack of business environment. According to the report competitive cities are ones where local governments have autonomy and properly work out their relationship with the central government, engage market forces in government policymaking and maintain local features while expanding communications with the world. These are recommendations worth following. Local governments should take their jobs more seriously of facilitating balanced development of business and residential environment, besides developing multiple industries. Urban planners must outline development strategies clearly. They should encourage talent to come to their cities. It may be a good idea to have India-specific rankings of urban competitiveness as well, carried out by industry bodies such as the Confederation of Indian Industry and the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry.

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