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I am not Indian so please take this with a grain of salt.

My senior project was creating a business plan for India. I guess the professor was farming for ideas. The one thing he berated over and over was that due to the multiple municipalities and mass corruption, conducting business between their states is not a trivial matter. This means that there is no group cohesiveness. Pollution knows no borders and I do not think this will be an easy problem for the Indian people to solve due to said internal struggle.

Neither am I, so take with two grains, but from an outside westerner's perspective, it seems the government is quite impotent. I was surprised to find how small the roads are for New Delhi's size. If they can't raise better roads with their clear time saving advantages, perhaps millions of hours per day, it's hard to imagine how they can do much. In this case, the health of the entire population is at risk and the governments apathy rings through it all.

If I had to guess, the cause could be due to how much focus is spent on non-secular issues. There is little time left for issues like better air, water, roads, etc... If this hurdle is cleared, you then have to get past the selfishness and corruption built into the system. Set your gods, ideology and your selfishness aside for half a minute so you can at least breath a little easier. It's going to take some work and sacrifice, but in reality it's not that bad.

I am an Indian and I echo your sentiments. Federalism, which was supposed to work really well, is failing at all levels in our country. A single vision to move forward does not germinate and even if it does in one person's mind, it is impossible for that vision to see light of the day. Even a flagship project like the bullet train is unable to take off because of corruption at the grass root level (panchayaths and the like).

In India, a vast majority of the population doesn't realize the growth by letting others grow concept. The predominant sentiment is to grow at someone else's expense, meaning I have to grow and others shouldn't or even if they did they have to grow less than me. This manifests in every step and walk of life. This leads to all sorts of corruption. Some guy who owns a key piece of land won't sell that land for a public project, just because a politician who doesn't want that project to succeed will back him up and prevent him from selling. This happened in Bangalore when a key arterial road was being developed. As soon as word got out, some local politician flooded a key government land with slum dwellers and overnight they occupied that land and prevented the road construction. Stories like this are the norm in any land acquisition.

Of course there are exceptions, and that's how this country is seeing modest growths of 6-8%. I say modest because, our baseline is fairly low, as compared to other economies. I feel so bad, we have the highest inhabitable land mass of any country, some of the most fertile regions, no adverse weather in most parts, bio-diversity to die for. It's like someone handed this climate on a platter, yet we don't realize that. We are just destroying this paradise day by day.

To be fair, many US cities also have severe transportation infrastructure problems which governments at many levels are too weak to address

Experience a traffic jam in Delhi first-hand and your analogy to US cities might acquire some nuance. It's really not even close.

There’s a difference between government being too weak to address and the voters not wanting something. It comes up a couple times a decade in Atlanta and the suburbs vote against public train expansion. I see parallels with the housing issues in SF and California.

How does a local government do something if their constituents flat out refuse it?

I'm an Indian, and I cannot agree more. The few here who have managed to comprehend the impact are trying to push hard on governing agencies to take appropriate measures. The problem arises when citizens do not take this up as a problem, because there's too much on their plate already. Leads to lesser political pressure.

This is due to appeasement and corruption of previous Government. Government passed a Law which allowed constructing 4 floor building in every area of Delhi. This simply killed the city as you cannot increase the population density by a factor of 4 in a already crowded city.

Secondly they grabbed all the land around NCR(National Capital Region) which resulted in prices of properties reaching simply affordable levels. This only increased the pressure on the core part of Delhi.

It is an example of evil Governance.

> you cannot increase the population density by a factor of 4 in a already crowded city

New Delhi isn't even in the forty most densely-populated cities [1]. The city feels crowded because infrastructure has not developed with the population. If you want to see what happens when a government artificially cap housing supply, visit San Francisco.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_cities_by_population_d...

Though I agree with your point, New Delhi and Delhi are not the same. New Delhi is a less dense area within Delhi that has many parks, government buildings, monuments and large suburban houses. There are areas of Delhi that are very dense. With any urban comparison, where you draw the border lines is essential and often difficult to do consistently.

An interesting thing to notice from your link, Union City, Guttenburg, and West New York (all in New Jersey) make the list while New York City does not. This is only because of how the lines are drawn.

I don't disagree completely, Infrastructure development prior to passing such law would have have helped.

There is a lot of land around Delhi to develop the city laterally instead of allowing 4 floor construction on a 50 square meter plots on a narrow street. How to you allow for electricity, water, and commute without creating bottlenecks. Road are already conjested and new ones cannot be constructed easily. You can go underground and that's happening (Delhi Metro Project) but it's neither easy nor cheap to build an underground transportation system under a crowded city. It all comes down to appeasement and corruption going hand in hand.

SFO might be on the other side of the spectrum with its draconian zoning laws though.

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