India's Reform Journey Revisited: Pritika Hingorani, Artha Global

India's Reform Journey Revisited - Pritika Hingorani, Artha Global

What is one reform that was overlooked in 1991?

A lot of the focus of the reforms in '91 were sectoral, but an equally important spatial shift was taking place in India at the time. In some sense, which has been enabled by the 1991 reforms, which is the movement of people from rural to urban areas. That required a reform both of land markets and a greater focus on decentralization.

Now, understandably, amidst the crisis that was '91, that couldn't be tackled, but it's an increasingly important reform that we need to see through today.

What is one reform that India needs today?

There's no question now, or at least I hope there's no question now, that cities will be fundamental to India's growth story. Cities are where jobs will be created. They are where young people move, full of aspiration in search of new opportunities and that needs us to reform land markets so that our cities can accommodate people that are moving there. There's another very important reason that we need to reform land markets and focus on decentralization, and that's climate change.

India has made fairly ambitious targets to lower emissions over time, ambitious and welcome targets, but a key part of that are going to be cities. Cities in many ways shape demand for energy. They shape demand for energy through a number of pathways, through their choices on urban energy systems, through their choices on public transport, but also through urban form.

Because we've ignored reform of land markets for so long, we've got this very sprawling, land intensive, pattern of urban growth, which is going to lock us into a very high emissions trajectory in the future. We have to create more transparent land markets, allow land to be converted more easily and more transparently from agricultural to non-agricultural use so that we can build more compact and much greener cities. Those are the two reforms that I think will be very important.