Winter is approaching, and the mercury will soon drop in my new home of New Delhi, India, but not its economic growth. Delhi is a prime example of the impact of India’s rapid economic development. Skyrocketing employment makes it a magnet for the impoverished from surrounding states.
Over the past three decades, India adopted a largely free-market economic policy, resulting in rapidly increasing investment from abroad and individuals empowered by freedom to trade without major restrictions.
The National Capital Region, which encompasses Delhi and its satellite cities with a combined population of more than 50 million, acts as India’s governance hub and hosts many of its major corporations.
Formerly known as Indraprasta, Delhi is India’s capital, with a vibrant art culture despite a history marked by conflict. It is linguistically challenging for migrants from other parts of the country who cannot speak Hindi—the most common language in north-central India.
With this high influx of migrants, the city continuously strives to improve its infrastructure. Though infrastructure remains incomplete in India’s metropolitan areas, many parts of Delhi enjoy infrastructure comparable to that of the developed world.
The metro train network is among the best in the world. With a daily ridership of 2.76 million, it connects the heart of the city to the international airport in less than 20 minutes.
Delhi’s proximity to the Himalayas enables locals to visit the numerous hill stations. The city is also not far from the much-acclaimed winter wonderland of Kashmir, numerous national reserve forests, and the picturesque palaces in Rajasthan.
An extensive road network and ever-expanding rail network connect Delhi with its many surrounding cities. Lately, airlines have begun offering tickets that are cheaper than some trains—thanks to foreign investment in the booming aviation industry.
Air pollution is Delhi’s most serious problem. In response, local authorities have set an example for the rest of the country by implementing pollution-control measures, including a mandatory switch to affordable, cleaner transportation technologies. With these and rapid economic development, the city will—just like modern cities of the West—soon bring down its pollution levels.
Cities like Delhi burst the myth, propagated by radical environmental groups, of resource constraint. India’s agricultural output has grown consistently, and infrastructure development has brought drinking water to the constantly expanding city.
An aggressive energy policy has also brought cities like Delhi uninterrupted electricity supply, a luxury taken for granted in the West but yet to be enjoyed by 300 million other Indians. However, the country is not far from achieving it—much to the dismay, it seems, of elite Western environmentalists who mistakenly think a minor increase in global average temperature threatens greater harm than dire poverty and lack of pure drinking water, sewage sanitation, and industrial production, all impossible without abundant, affordable, reliable electricity.
India actually recorded an energy surplus last year due to the expansion of its coal industry and installation of nuclear power stations. An improvement of the electricity transmission network and a commitment to coal as a conventional, abundant, reliable energy source will soon bring relief to parts of the country that currently face intermittent electric supply.
The living standards in India will continue to improve, provided the country protects itself from radical restrictions advocated by Green lobbyists in the United Nations and elsewhere.
Vijay Jayaraj (M.Sc., Environmental Science, University of East Anglia, England), Research Associate for Developing Countries for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation, lives in New Delhi, India.