In India, the continuing national sociogeographical/economic shift from rural/agricultural to urban/technology-based has brought benefits, but also problems as officials have, in many cases, been unable to keep up with booming populations. In response to slow bureaucratic fixes to such problems, some enterprising communities have decided to take matters into their own hands and kill two birds with one stone. In what I will refer to below as the Indian model, communities are pooling low productivity agricultural land parcels of many residents and reorganizing them as self-contained corporate/industrial settlement entities which focus on community and economic development.
In exchange for their land, the former owners receive shares in the new company proportionate to previous land-holdings and a new home in the development. They also often find new work in the new businesses which are attracted to the area.
These new communities often attract highly-paid service businesses, can be built intelligently and sustainably rather than in the haphazard manner of many of the world's long-developing cities, and have, in some cases, proven profitable for the farmers who used to till the earth now resting under the skyscrapers they own shares in. Magarpatta in Maharashtra is one example of this phenomenon, and one which has been in the news frequently of late.
It got me wondering whether such a model could be utilized elsewhere. There could be some places in the Midwest of the US where they could benefit local residents, particularly right outside the Chicago area. The last time I was in town, it struck me that many communities seemed to be springing out of old cornfields almost as if by magic anyway. If the Indian model were used, it could benefit the communities more than the current model of developer buyout followed by re-parcelling and selling-off of lots. Under the Indian model, residents have more at stake in the land which in examples in India, has led to more interesting approaches than setting up a dozen cul-de-sacs playing ring around the Wal-Mart.
Indeed, it strikes me that such a model could be utilized anywhere 1. land is owned by numerous, disparate but cooperative individuals, 2. there are populations including many skilled, educated workers, and, 3. there is agricultural land which has become less profitable than the alternative. I am sure there are other places in Asia as well some pockets in Africa which could benefit from taking a look at the Indian model.
In any case, it is interesting to see innovative approaches to age-old problems. Some readers might bemoan the fact that many of the companies in the Indian townships are involved in outsourcing, and therefore the loss of American jobs. To them I would say that there is an easy way to combat this. Simply head to the Midwest, maybe even Iowa. For, as India has proven, if you build a township, the companies will come...