Governing Cities: The Emerging Challenge for Inclusive City Development

The vision envisaged for Urban India in the Eleventh Five Year Plan (2007-2012) states that the “Indian cities will be the locus and engine of economic growth over the next two decades, and the realization of an ambitious goal of 9%–10% growth in GDP depends fundamentally on making Indian cities much more livable, inclusive, bankable, and competitive.” This vision is in tune with the urban reform linked Jawaharlal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) launched in December 2005. JNNURM is being implemented through two sub-missions: Urban Infrastructure and Governance (UIG) and Basic Services for the Urban Poor (BSUP). Concurrently with JNNURM, the Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme has been launched for Small and Medium Towns (UIDSSMT) and Integrated Housing and Slum Development Programme (IHSDP) for medium and small towns not covered under the JNNURM. BSUP and IHSDP seek to achieve inclusive growth of cities and towns within the inherent constraints and weakness of the Urban Local Bodies. Urbanisation Challenges Liberalisation and globalisation of nineties in India heralded rapid economic growth which also contributed to increase in the level of urbanization from 26 per cent in 1991 and to 28 per cent in 2001 and is further expected to increase to 30 per cent by 2011 and 38 per cent by 2026. Rapid urbanization in India is inevitable and has been duly recognized. The increasing urban population has given rise in the number of urban poor and slums, causing pressure on urban land, basic services and infrastructure. This is posing a challenge to promote inclusive, sustainable and equitable and pro-poor cities. Accordingly investments are going in the cities/towns to improve the social infrastructure and promote economic growth and increased employment. This requires pro-poor policy orientation, inclusiveness and empowerment. The Eleventh Five Year Plan titled ‘Towards a faster and inclusive growth’ reiterates the above. By inclusive growth the Plan refers to an all out effort to increase the access of basic social services to the masses not only as a welfare measure but as a strong justification for robust growth in the long run. Indian External Affairs Minister Shri S.M.Krishna at the closing session of the three-day Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) Summit held in September 2010 at New York, asserted that Government of India is pursuing schemes of “inclusive growth” so that the fruits of growth reach everyone which is the main objective of India's ambitious socio-economic development programmes. Governing Cities The 74th Amendment to the Constitution of India along with its companion piece, namely, the 73rd Amendment are seen as a landmark in the history of decentralised governance in India. The main objective of these Amendments is to empower the people to take on increasing responsibilities of local self-governance through Municipalities and Panchayats. The 74th Amendment provides for a broad structure of Municipalities for organising urban governance with an accountable, responsive and decentralised system enabling participation of citizens in urban governance. More than one and a half decades have passed since the Constitution was amended and during this duration, several steps have been taken towards achieving the objectives of these Amendments. The steps taken by the States could not bring about uniformity in structure and functional regime of the municipal bodies. A review of the implementation of the 74th Amendment shows that these stipulations are yet to be fully realised as most of the States are yet to implement its several provisions. JNNURM has contributed to speedy adaptation of decentralization as it is one of its mandatory reforms. Still more attention and enforcement is required in its actual practice with participation of the citizens including the urban poor in the governance process.
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