India has made significant progress over the last two decades. The demographic dividend is also playing a crucial role in its growth and development. The stage is now set for a more proactive role in the global economy. As such, it is imperative for India to make best use of its human capital and skill sets in an era, where knowledge is increasingly being considered as the differentiating factor in providing competitive advantage to the economies.
India's growth in the recent years has been primarily driven by the service economy, wherein major cities have played a vital role. However, the growth has also resulted in overcrowding of cities. India's future success story and advancement depends to a large extent on the growth of the small towns and cities, which have tremendous scope for infrastructural development. The youth in these small towns and cities have a lot of hidden potential, which needs to be leveraged. They have the potential to become future managers, entrepreneurs and edupreneurs. The development of these areas will facilitate job creation at the local level, reduce poverty, control migration to cities, and contribute to balanced regional development. However, we must have a two-pronged strategy for development of small towns and cities. While, it is crucial to make infrastructural investments, the focus must be more on the development of these areas as knowledge hubs. In other words, we have to create sustainable development models for the growth of small towns and cities to ensure job creation and economic prosperity, without causing environmental damage, and maintaining tranquility. Many towns such as Bhilai in Chhattisgarh, Kota in Rajasthan, Indore in Madhya Pradesh among others have evolved as educational hubs in their respective regions. What we require is a more structured and organized form of development of small towns and cities as knowledge hubs. And that will drive India's future success story, and set the stage for proactive global engagement. It's time for action OR else we will miss the bus, and the demographic advantage will wither away before we blink our eyes.