The soul of India lives in its villages, said Gandhi Ji in the very beginning of twentieth century. So, rightly independent India embarked upon planned, ambitious and modestly successful rural development and rural governance initiatives. Indian political parties and national policy makers emphasized on need to bring positive changes in rural India. But India has changed over the time. The India of twenty -first century is significantly urban and if the trends from Census 2011 and other contemporary population projection are indicators, India would be majority urban around 2030-2040.
But it seems our politicians and policy makers knowingly or unknowingly ignore urbanization trends and urban problems. The faster growth in urban is not limited to economy and geography of cities only. For the first in Indian Census history, absolute increase in urban Indian population was more than rural Indian population in Census 2011. The infrastructures and governance of our cities have not been able to adapt to growing population and its needs in the cities. Urban planning is at best no planning- a free for all in theory but land mafia-politician-bureaucrat nexus driven in practice. City authorities don’t have basic updated data about demography and geography of city. Urban departments lack appropriate capacities to handle urban issues. Capacity needs (skill-sets) and aspirations of individuals in cities are different from their counterparts in rural areas. But Indian bureaucracy is predominately trained for rural development and rural ethos. So, our bureaucrats find heterogeneity and informalities in urban areas beyond their appreciation and understanding.
Separate Section on Urban in Political Manifestos of National and State Ruling Political Parties
Source: Information from Copies of Manifestos for 2009 Lok Sabha Election
It is in the interest of not only cities but country as whole that political leaders and policy makers should provide due priorities to Urban by coming up with clear-cut vision and action plans for bringing better changes in lives in the cities. So, ‘urban is due’ in political manifestos and national polices!
As a part of its Pre- Election Political Awareness Campaign (PEPAC) for urban governance and urban poverty PRIA along with partner organization organized a Commisionerate level consultation on 21st February 2014 at Gandhi Ashram, Gaya Bihar. The consultation witnessed a participation of representatives from various political parties’ viz. BJP, RJD, AAP, JD(U) , Anushuchit Jati Morcha along with elected representatives from Urban Local Bodies, representatives from CSOs, Academia, SIC members and representatives from media houses. The discussion and deliberation during the consultation revolved around the initiatives being taken by the political parties in their manifestos for highlighting and addressing the issues of urban poverty and urban governance for the forthcoming Lok Sabha elections.
Here is a news clipping of the event: