R.P. Mishra gave his growth foci model in response to ideas of Perroux. Growth pole theory by Perroux was widely adopted by western scholars of his time. Boudeville tried to add spatial dimension to this theory but did not take into consideration that elaborate process of trickle down. R.P. Mishra, an Indian Geographer realized that the benefits from growth pole does not directly spread the effects of economic growth to its periphery but through multiple stages.
Meaning of Growth Foci
- Definition: The Growth Foci is a central place which serves threshold area around it and the population residing in that threshold.
- Threshold is a minimum size of area or population which must exist around a town for profitable and sustainable operation of businesses in the town. If the population is small, the demand will be low and the businesses will fail.
- There is a hierarchy of growth foci through which goods and services as exchanged. There are multiple growth foci of lower hierarchy having their own threshold within the higher order foci threshold. (See Fig.1)
- The growth foci are nodal points through which growth and innovation trickle down to lower level.
- These foci/nodal points also serve as markets for purchase of goods from the towns of lower hierarchy.
Postulates of Growth Foci Model
- No direct link between growth pole and village: Mishra argued that the growth does not trickle down to smallest units of settlements such as villages, directly, but through multiple types and sizes of cities and towns.
- The growth and innovation can trickle down from growth pole to small centers only through some meeting points or nodes.
- There are very few growth poles in a large underdeveloped country such as India. Therefore, the growth pole is not connected to all the areas of a region. Hence, the innovative impulses are transmitted step by step.
- He opined that there are hierarchy of service centers with each having their own small hinterland.
- Each level of service centers provide different services to its hinterland.
In fact, Mishra used the approach of Christaller’s Central Place Theory in combination with Growth Pole Theory. His model elaborates the process of spatial diffusion of the economic growth and innovation from growth pole to smallest human settlement through multiple nodal points. Nodal points are cities and towns in which people of surrounding area exchange goods and services.
According to Mishra, there are five levels of nodal points which transmit innovative impulses (Fig.2).
1. Growth Pole
The largest agglomeration or city in the region where research and development activities take place. These poles are the inception point of economic growth. It generally has the population of more than 500000. These are generally the hub of administrative or financial activity i.e. Mumbai and Delhi.
2. Growth Center at regional level
It is the second order city subordinate to growth pole having population of 50000 to 500000. They can serve a population of more than 12 Lakhs. These centers show the signs of strong industrial activity. These are generally the district or state headquarters i.e. Panipat, Ghaziabad etc..
3. Growth Point at Sub-regional level
These have of a population between 10 to 50 thousand and serve 5 service centers or a population of 1.5 Lakh.
4. Service Centers
These are small towns with population of about 5000. They serve 5 central villages or a population of 30 thousand. These centers may provide agricultural input services such as sale of fertilizers, repair of tractors etc. In addition, it may also serve as the marketplace for purchase of agricultural goods for value addition.
5. Central Villages
These are large villages with a population of about 6000. The serve 6 smaller villages. The central villages provide some marketing and recreational services. They also act as the centers of socio-cultural activity.
Merits of Growth Foci Model
- This theory provides the framework for accelerating the economic growth which will trickle down to the smallest of towns and villages.
- This theory suggests that the development of hierarchy of cities and towns will help avoid the threat of over crowding of large cities.
- Decentralized Concentration: This theory argues that the people will settle in different levels of hierarchy of towns. Therefore, nodal points has concentration of development but the concentration will be spread over large space/area. Hence, there will be decentralized concentration which is good for spreading the benefits of economic growth from growth pole to smaller units.
- Since, government can not provide institutional infrastructure to each and every units of settlement, the people from lower hierarchy of centers can go to upper hierarchy towns for institutional support. For instance, the government can not open Common Service Centers in all the villages due to lack of budget. So, Government establishes Common Service Centers in certain large central villages where the people from smaller villager can come. Hence, this theory solves the problem of institutional deficiency.
- This model shows that the trickle down lags in real life. This means that the growth does not spread to hinterland instantly. So, it is a realistic approach.
Summary of Growth Foci Model
R. P. Mishra’s Growth Foci Model is more practical and provides the real geographic shape to growth pole theory given by Perroux. It also reflects the Indian experience of growth and development, appropriately. For instance, the growth starts from Delhi then trickle down to state capitals, to district headquarters, to small towns and to villages. The labor force, goods and services also flow from villages to large cities, step by step.
Kulwinder Singh is an alumni of Jawaharlal Nehru University, New Delhi and working as Assistant Professor of Geography at Pt. C.L.S. Government College, Kurukshetra University. He is a passionate teacher and avid learner.