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Globalising at any cost

By Darshini Mahadevia

Indian mega-cities are rushing to provide world-class infrastructure to welcome capital investment. But a close look at the budgets of Mumbai, Ahmedabad and Bangalore reveals that the investment in roads, flyovers and telecommunications for the few is at the cost of essential services like water, sanitation and public health for the many


Inclusive mega-cities in globalising Asia

By Darshini Mahadevia

Urban development that is geared to the needs of global capital displaces or excludes poorer segments of the population and leads to the social and spatial segmentation of the mega-city into citadels and ghettos. How can globalising mega-cities be made pro-poor and inclusive?


Consumption and urban India: The poor are only Peeping Toms

By Arvind Rajagopal

The urban vision invoked by the media is of a consumption utopia. What impact does this portrayal of a shining urban India have on city-dwellers who live in slums or on the streets? Surely, by stimulating desires that cannot be fulfilled, marketers are contributing to a revolution of rising expectations?


First cousins: The ties between rural and urban India

By Rahul Srivastava

At 27.8% of the total population, India's level of urbanisation remains quite low. But that's still 285 million urban citizens, a number that would constitute the fourth-largest nation in the world. To feed these ever-consuming cities electricity, water and natural resources, the habitats of rural India are becoming more and more depleted, forcing further migration into the cities


Growing up: Levels of urbanisation

By Rahul Srivastava

States with the highest levels of urbanisation are also the states with the highest levels of water and food insecurity


Middle India: Towns versus cities

By Rahul Srivastava

The big city has been glorified, the small town neglected. But with more than half the urban population of India living in small urban agglomerations, we would do well to shift the focus to smaller townships for a more balanced economic growth


The informal sector and urban poverty

By Rahul Srivastava

The informal sector accounts for 66.7% of total employment in Delhi and 68% in Mumbai. Workers engaged in this urban informal sector form the bulk of the urban poor


Cities as habitats: Survey of homes in urban India

By Rahul Srivastava

Only 15% of dwellings in urban slums have drinking water, toilet and electricity within their premises. A quick view of urban habitats


Planning the past: History of India's urban Plans

By Rahul Srivastava

Despite several government policies, contemporary Indian cities remain civic nightmares


Further Reading

  1. Ministry of Urban Development and Poverty Alleviation

  2. National Institute of Urban Affairs

  3. United Nations Human Settlements Program

  4. Frontline

  5. The Hindu




Messing around with waste

By Poornima Chikarmane and Anjor Bhaskar

Solid waste management accounts for over 50% of overall municipal budgets and manpower, but municipal authorities collect only 50% of the waste and recycle a negligible 5%. Technology and privatisation are the solutions being proposed everywhere. But public-private partnerships are turning out to be more about using public money for private profit. Is integration of informal sector wastepickers into the management of domestic and commercial municipal waste the solution?


Size matters

By R B Bhagat

Size clearly matters in the hierarchy of urban agglomerations. Most programmes including JNNURM are directed at the big cities. Basic civic services including electricity, sanitation and clean drinking water for the poor in small cities and towns are abysmal, and hardly better than rural areas. The widening gap in income levels between rural and urban areas cannot be bridged without developing small cities and towns


Big city, big share

By Sama Khan

The well-planned development of small cities can help disperse rural migration and prevent overcrowding of the metropolitan centres. JNNURM funds can make much more of a difference in these smaller towns. But the bulk of the allocation under JNNURM goes to the three mega cities of Mumbai, Delhi and Kolkata


Urban territories, rural governance

By Gopa Samanta

West Bengal has the highest number of census towns among all the Indian states -- with 528 villages reclassified as such in the last decade -- but only 127 urban local bodies. The slow process of municipalisation means that most census towns, especially those with fast-growing industry, mining and commercial enterprises, are urban areas governed by gram panchayats. Such urban territories can become unregulated free-for-alls, with low taxes but haphazard development and poor infrastructure and services


Exclusionary cities: The exodus that wasn’t

By Amitabh Kundu

Yes, the urban population increased more in absolute terms during 2001-11 than rural population. But, no, this is not because distressed agricultural workers are pouring into cities. It’s because census activism has tripled the number of urban centres in Census 2011. In fact, exclusionary policies are discouraging the inflow of rural poor into the mega cities


Slowdown in urban growth

By Debolina Kundu

Population growth in urban India has been decelerating over the last three decades, busting the myth of an urban explosion. Most cities with populations of 100,000-plus have recorded a significant decline in their population growth, more so the million-plus cities, suggesting that they have become less welcoming to migrants. Delhi and Chandigarh recorded less than half the growth rate of the '90s, and Mumbai district has reported a decline in absolute terms during 2001-11


The invisible migrant

By Amita Bhide

The city is harsh terrain for the roughly 100 million circular migrants who move around the country in search of livelihoods. The territoriality of policy renders them invisible, denied access to essential services such as housing, subsidised foodgrain and bank accounts. Urban policy needs to be re-imagined to understand the realities of migrants


The ‘other’ urban India

By Partha Mukhopadhyay

The most vibrant, people-driven process of urbanisation is occurring outside the large metropolises which dominate popular imagination. It is not directed by the state, as in Chandigarh and Bhubaneswar, nor developed by the private sector, as in Mundhra or Mithapur. It is the result of decisions about livelihood and residence made by thousands of individuals that coalesce to transform a ‘village’ into a census town


Transition towns

By Kalpana Sharma

The 74th constitutional amendment has on paper devolved power to urban local bodies. But even a cursory look at small towns reveals that elected representatives have little knowledge of their powers or responsibilities, cannot read or frame budgets and fail to generate local resources for planned development. Many of these towns are still transitioning between large village and town, with even basic public services absent, particularly for the poor

Jhunjhunu, where mohalla samitis have worked well



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