UKTI visit to India with David CameronThis special report is from India where I am on the UKTI’s business delegation to India with David Cameron. Apart from the extraordinary logistics, and the way the roads were cleared for the 100+ Delegates to travel across the city, the thrust of the visit is to energies the connection between UK and India. In this regard history may not be on our side, and the PM has stressed it’s all about partnerships for the future. If they are to be believed the figures are staggering: in the next 5 years India plans to spend $1 Trillion on infrastructure, by 2020 it targets 40m new university places and by 2025 it will be the world’s fifth largest consumer market. All well and good, however beneath the headlines there are some deeper questions that need answering. While infrastructure is acknowledged as being important to make cities function, no one seems to be discussing the vision for what India wants to be. At a very interesting meeting with the Chief Minister of Maharashtra, it was acknowledged that the system of governance made it difficult to implement joined up thinking. Yet this is exactly what is needed along with a critical response to current urbanization trends, and a rethink as to what is being borrowed or copied from the West. Infrastructure should not be seen as a solution to a problem, it needs to be understood as part of a synthetic and integrated approach to making cities places that allow people to work, live well and thrive.

by orangepith