INDIA 2030 Posted by Steve Coll At a think tank, it is possible to pass the time by pulling out of your in-box two-inch-thick research reports with titles such as, â€œIndiaâ€™s Urban Awakening: Building Inclusive Cities, Sustaining Economic Growth.â€ (This one happened to arrive from the McKinsey Global Institute.) As a one-time urban householder in India, I was curious enough in this case to page through the statistical forecasts and recommendations. Essentially, if I understand it correctly, the reportâ€™s authors provide a specific strategy by which Indiaâ€™s government could emulate the pathways followed by urban planners in other leapfrogging economies in Asia and Latin America. The plan is attached to a warning: â€œIf India continues with its current unplanned urbanization path, it will result in a sharp deterioration in the quality of life in its cities, putting even todayâ€™s rates of economic growth at risk.â€ The report contains a forecast of per-capita growth in Indiaâ€™s gross domestic product, particularly in its cities. By 2030, it predicts, Mumbai will have a population of thirty-three million and a per capita G.D.P. of $8,000, in 2008 prices. Delhi will have a population of twenty-six million and a per capita G.D.P. of $11,400. Those are astonishing numbers. Absent nuclear war with Pakistan, South Asia will have graduated from poverty to middle-income status in my (hoped-for) professional lifetime. Already rents, land prices, and housing prices are way out of whack in Delhi and other international cities. But it is hard to begrudge a long-benighted country the problems that come with rising wealth. The problem with urban planning in India, however, lies in a cause of national successâ€”the countryâ€™s resilient democracy. In China the government transformed cities in a single decade by razing slums, issuing draconian rules about residency and education permits, and so on. The McKinsey report authors argue something similar could be achieved in India by a determined government. But eminent domain can be as hard to exercise in Indian cities as it is in the NIMBY exurbs of the United States. As a friend remarked when I was there earlier this year, as we snaked through traffic jam after traffic jam, most of them caused by road construction sites, India will be fine installing modern infrastructure such as cell phones and wireless broadbandâ€”as long as it doesnâ€™t involve land; land use is the mother of Indian conflict.