1. Question on Urbanization in Mains GS-Paper1
  2. Self-Study First
  3. Introduction (Origin | DATA)
    1. Body#1: Employment Avenues in IT-cities
    2. Body#2: New Problems to Governance
      1. Poor urban governance, imbalanced regional growth
      2. Lack of civic sense & democratic accountability
      3. Congestion slums & suburbanization
    3. Body#3: New Problems to Environment
      1. Urban Heat Islands & Air Pollution
      2. Water Pollution & urban floods
      3. Threat to biodiversity
    4. (Misc.) Body#4: New Problems to Humans / Society
    5. Alt.Body: Example IT-Hub Cities
  4. Conclusion: Futuristic Note with SDG की पिपुड़ी
  5. Afterthoughts / Pitfalls

Question on Urbanization in Mains GS-Paper1

Finally, I’ve reached the LAST QUESTION of UPSC Mains GS Paper-1 (2017). At times I felt leaving this article-series half-finished, because some of the questions were too tough / abstract / vaguely worded to prepare model answers. But with the grace of Almighty, finally, we are here:

Q20. “The growth of cities as I.T. hubs has opened up new avenues employment but has also created new problems. Substantiate this statement with examples. (15m, 250 words, asked in UPSC Mains-GSM1-2017 )

“सुचना प्रौद्योगिकी केन्द्रों के रूप में नगरो की संवृध्धि ने रोजगार के नए मार्ग खोल दिए है, परन्तु साथ में नई समस्याए भी पैदा कर दी है.|” उदाहरणों सहित इस कथन की पुष्टि कीजिए.

Self-Study First

The growth of cities as IT hubs IT-Cities urbanization problems remedies

Introduction (Origin | DATA)

  • (Origin) With the economic liberalization of 1991, India became a global powerhouse of IT industries. Over the years, the cities of Bengaluru, Hyderabad, Noida, Gurgaon and Pune have emerged the leading IT hubs of India. < OR >
  • (DATA) According to the Economic Survey of India 2017-18, India’s IT-BPO sector contributes nearly $140 billion to our economy and employs nearly 40 lakh people. (~40 words)

Body#1: Employment Avenues in IT-cities

  1. Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) firms cater overseas clients in different time zones. They must run operations on 24/7 basis with multiple day and night shifts. This creates more jobs directly, and indirectly – such as taxi-drivers and tea-sellers.
  2. As IT companies start or shut down, it creates demand for corporate-lawyers, accountants; workers and brokers associated with photocopying, printer-refilling, providing computers / furniture / air-conditioners on rent, repair and resale.
  3. As startup companies scaleup, the subsequent construction and refurbishing of their office buildings requires masons, electricians, plumbers and allied jobs.
  4. IT sector jobs are mostly held by young professionals. Large presence of such single individuals and working couples generates demand for maids, babysitters, tutors, washer men, cooks, catering-tiffin services & delivery boys.
  5. Young professionals move between jobs and between cities. They need brokers for rental homes, furniture and electronics.
  6. Young IT professionals form a consumer base with large disposable incomes. They spend more on electronic-gadgets, durables; fashion boutique, shopping malls; diners, cinemas & theme-parks; spa, massage, beauty & tattoo parlors; Yoga, Taiichi, dance & aerobics classes; Golf, Tennis and similar recreational & luxury activities– which provides employment opportunities to many high skilled workers (such as Golf-coaches) and low-skilled workers (Golf-caddies and gardeners).
  7. Since public transportation cannot cope-up with the growing population, it generates demand for cab & rickshaw drivers. Growth of private vehicles generate demand for car & bike mechanics.
  8. Presence of “App-aggregators” such as Uber and Swiggy to connect the clients with service providers further catalyzes the job-creation.

For educational purpose, I’ve elaborated the job-lists. But to save space in exam, just compress the list. e.g. POINT#6: “Young IT professionals form a consumer base with large disposable incomes. This creates demand and jobs in the retail- shopping, recreation and hospitality industry.”

Body#2: New Problems to Governance

Poor urban governance, imbalanced regional growth

  • Municipal corporations have limited fiscal resources to cater to such large population. Hence, irregularity in waste collection, drinking water, electricity, primary education, roads-repair, public-transportation are common maladies of such cities.
  • IT companies cope up by using diesel generators for electricity, and private contractors for waste disposal to illegal landfill sites, but both create new challenges to environment.
  • Success of IT-hub cities vastly improves the investment and GSDP of a state but may also skew the priorities of the policy makers, resulting into neglect of other sectors of the economy and imbalanced regional development. e.g. Erstwhile United Andhra-Pradesh: IT-sector led growth improved the infrastructure around Hyderabad city but many other cities of Andhra / Telangana appear far backward and underdeveloped in comparison.

Lack of civic sense & democratic accountability

  • Shortage of municipal staff and police men results into lack of civic sense among residents. This results in littering of garbage, illegal parking and road rage– because there is no fear of punishment.
  • Young migrant professionals frequently switch jobs and residence. So, they’re not registered as voters, they have limited connect with their corporators, MLA and MPs of their locality. It reduces the accountability of the elected representative and the government machinery. Example: more than half of urban Indian families pay to send their children to private schools, instead of generating demand for better teaching standards in the government school.

Congestion slums & suburbanization

  • The real estate prices escalate in these cities with the entry of big IT companies and their high-salaried executives.
  • The demand for drivers, maids and cooks brings additional migrants to the cities, but they can’t afford the homes on purchase or rent– be it Sillicon Valley of USA or Bengaluru, Gururam, Noida in India. They’re forced to live in slums in unhygienic conditions or in distant suburban areas- which further adds to vehicular pollution during commuting.
  • As the prime localities of the city start to become expensive, noisy and congested, the rich professionals begin to move towards the suburban areas. But this unplanned ‘suburbanization’ leads to illegal constructions, displacement of farmers, and further challenges to urban administration.

Don’t waste too many words on ‘suburbanization’. Question is about IT-cities, not their suburbs.

Body#3: New Problems to Environment

Bengaluru Toxic Foam in the lake and Ease of Living Index

Urban Heat Islands & Air Pollution

  • IT data centres require centralized air conditioning to keep the server infrastructure cool. But large number of such AC units turn the city into an ‘urban heat island‘. Due to the resultant oppressive heat, it becomes impossible to travel in public buses or bicycles.
  • Thus, more people are motivated to commute by AC cars– further aggravating the problem of congestion, air pollution, road rage and global warming.

Water Pollution & urban floods

  • The water supply is vastly inadequate to population pressure. Private companies, and residents depend on borewells that drain the underground aquifer and bring saline water ingress.
  • Bengaluru’s Bellandur lake is contaminated by the flow of raw sewage, detergents, grease, oil and other chemical waste- which mix together and generate the toxic foam (झहरिला झाग). This foam destroys the aquatic lifeforms, creates foul stench, blocks the roadways, causes poor visibility and road-accidents.
  • The rampant and unplanned construction destroys the natural drainage channels and blocks the artificial drainage channels for rainwater and storm water. Then, even normal rain causes urban floods. Home Work: My Youtube lecture on Urban Floods: Problems and Remedies.
  • Increased electronic waste generation due to IT industries, and young professionals with large disposable incomes.

Threat to biodiversity

  • It’s fashionable among the IT & corporate companies to build futuristic looking glass-buildings. This harm the biodiversity of birds in two ways:
    • 1) Glass-building don’t any window-cavities for the birds’ nesting.
    • 2) Due to glass reflection migrant birds collide and die.
  • IT hubs require round the clock Wi-Fi, Internet and mobile telephony. This generates elector-magnetic radiation, which is harmful for birds, insects and small animals.
  • Due to time zone difference of overseas clients, the IT hubs have to run operation for 24/7 basis. But the constant building lights, vehicular sounds disturb the body-clocks and movement patterns of nocturnal animals (निशाचर जानवर). They become more vulnerable to starvation, road-accidents, predators and poachers.

(Misc.) Body#4: New Problems to Humans / Society

  • Large disposable income, nuclear families, live-in-relationships, job stress = liquor & narcotics, juvenile delinquency, road rage.
  • Cultural differences and income divide between the migrant professionals and the locals provides fertile ground for petty elements to start divisive politics, which sometimes degenerates into violence, in the name of preserving culture e.g. Beating women going to pubs or wearing western-attire or engaged in live-in relationships.
  • Sense of community is missing. There is sharp class-division between the haves and have-nots. Heinous incidents of theft, mugging, rape and murder by the watchmen and cab-drivers and other lower-income groups.
  • Since this is asked under GSM1-Geography segment, so Body#4 can be categorized as ‘Misc.’ If asked in GSM4, then it’ll become ‘Prime Body#1’.
  • Another Logical structuring approach is- instead of listing problems, you list the IT-hub cities and mentioned problems inside it.

Alt.Body: Example IT-Hub Cities

  • Gurugram located near New Delhi is a perfect example to demonstrate contrasts: It boasts of shopping malls, luxury cars’ showrooms, theme parks, golf courses, multiplexes, futuristic apartments and office buildings. Yet it doesn’t have citywide sewer or drainage system; reliable electricity or water; and public sidewalks, adequate parking, decent roads or any citywide system of public transportation. Gurugram has almost four times as many private security guards as police officers. It is a patchwork of private islands more than an interconnected city.
  • Bengaluru and Hyderabad– the two noted IT hubs of India- are ranked at 58th and 27th positions respectively, in the Ease of Living Index 2018 by the Ministry of Urban Housing Affairs.
  • California’s Silicon Valley is notoriously jobs-rich and housing-poor. It forces the low-salaried workers to live far from their workplaces, driving long distances through severe traffic congestion just to do their jobs- that increase emissions of carbon dioxide and aid in global warming.

Conclusion: Futuristic Note with SDG की पिपुड़ी

  • Sustainable Development Goal No. 1 requires India to end poverty in all forms everywhere, and Goal No. 11 requires India to make cities inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable. [शहेरो को समावेशी, सुरक्षित, समुत्थानशील और संधारणीय बनाना]
  • IT-industry is a major driver of job creation – both directly and indirectly, but it also brings new sets of problems to the urban environment, urban society and urban administration.
  • Therefore, we must remain vigilant that Goal.1 is not achieved at the expense of Goal.11.

Afterthoughts / Pitfalls

  • You can write ‘summary’ type conclusion – “these are the job avenues_ , _, _ and there are the challenges _, _ , _”. But given the large list, it’ll be difficult to compress. Better to end with short futuristic note with SDG.
  • In the real-exam, the candidates get less time to pause and think, as a result, often the “set of problems” are entirely focused on body#2 (governance challenge) or body#3 (environment challenge). You should try for a good mix of both. I’ve crossed over 1500 words for educational purpose. But you can summarize the same, within 250 words.
  • DONT give a large list of suggestions about how to overcome the IT-hub city challenges or a large list of government schemes as such SMART CITY, Amrut, HRIDAY, RURBAN Mission etc. It’s not asked in the question.
  • While I’ve elaborated the points for education purpose, but DONT spend too many words on Pollution and Biodiversity. Because this question was not asked under GSM3- Environment & Pollution.
  • Job stress, nuclear families, alcohol abuse: don’t spend too many words on this aspect. Because this question was not asked under GSM4- role of family and society.
  • DONT take go on a completely wrong logical structure e.g. starting like “Since the industrial revolution, no country has become a major economy without becoming an industrial power. – Lee Kuan Yew… but since India’s directly jumped from agriculture to service sector, so xyz problems….” That’s correct analysis lifted from the Economic Survey 2014, but this is question is asked part of GSM1: Geography subtopic economic geography / human settlement / urbanization problems and remedies. Not asked under GSM3: economic policies So the underlying economic policies of the government are not relevant here.

Visit Mrunal.org/Mains for more on the Art of Answer-Writing.