One or the other, but not all at the same time

ASHWINI A. writes from Bangalore: Development is fast becoming a strange dichotomous disease in India. The three most reform-minded States in the country—Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka—also top the list of States where farmers have committed most suicides in the past ten years, according to a pathbreaking study.

And, as if to underline the point, a new survey finds that the best cities to earn a living are not the best cities to live in. According to data compiled by the economics research firm Indicus Analytics, none of the ten cities in the ‘reside-in’ list figure in the ‘earn-in’ list of places with most employment opportunities.

Surprise 1: Only one City in the entire South is in the best city to earn list: Bangalore. The others: Gurgaon, Silvassa, Noida, Faridabad, Rupnagar, Chandigarh, Surat, Gandhinagar, Pune.

Surprise 2: Only one City in the entire South is in the best city to invest list: Coimbatore. The others: Silvassa, Ludhiana, Shimla, Noida, Gurgaon, Gandhinagar, Surat, Itanagar, Chandigarh.

Surprise 3: Only one City in the entire North is in the best city to live list: Shimla. Of the the others—Cochin, Calicut, Trivandrum, Mysore, Goa, Trichur, Pondicherry, Cannanore, Thiruvalur—five are in Kerala.

So, the North and West are nice to invest and earn, the South is nice to live in, and the East is a gone case. No surprises there. But the real surprise is that none of the metros, Bombay, Delhi, Calcutta or Madras figure in any of the lists.

A cynical question to ask if such findings are genuine or nicely dressed up to satisfy organisations such as CII and FICCI. But even after factoring the synthetic nature of such surveys, the point to ponder is the kind of cities we are developing.

Nice to make some money. Or nice to invest your money to make some more money. Or nice to have a nice time. But never all the three at the same time!

In the modern India, are we as individuals destined to enjoy one or the other without the other two?

Is it really so difficult to build cities that satisfy the heart, mind, body and wallet? If Chandigarh, one of the few fully planned cities in the country, fails to find a place in the best city to live in list, what does it say of planning? If Kerala, with almost no industries, is so nice to live in, is development a problem?

More importantly, should cities like Mysore rejoice or be wary of this recognition? If such rankings propel the Bangalore “crowd” towards Mysore, will Mysore remain the same?

Long years ago, economists spoke of the North-South divide. In its own way, does it persist in India that is Bharat?