Tag Archives: Rajesh Tandon

PRIA’s President speaks to ‘Dainik Jagran’ on Urban Governance in the context of ‘new government’

In the light of new government at National level in India, in an interview with ‘Dainik Jagran’ a national newspaper in India, Dr. Rajesh Tandon, President of Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA) stressed on the urgent needs and issues in respect to urban development and governance. Some of the key issues raised by Dr. Tandon were:

  1. Need for a Comprehensive National Urban Policy: India with its 40% of population now in urban areas, still doesn’t have a national urban policy that looks into the aspects of urban development and governance. The urban sector has been much neglected, urban local bodies at urban level are not incapacitated, there is yet no means of addressing the need for jobs and livelihood for large influx of rural – urban and urban – urban migration, large villages that are pretty much ‘urban in character’ continue to be classified as villages, the socio- economic growth of urban areas at large is yet not addressed and neither has its true potential realised in respect to national growth. New government in coordination and consensus with State governments should formulate a ‘National Urban Policy’ that addresses these needs of the day.
  2. Need to strengthen the National Planning Process: In India planning process is implemented through five year plans since 1951. We are currently in our Twelfth Five year Plan. This planning tool of ‘Five year plans’ has laid much of its importance and outlook to rural development in the past for India. Now that the urban issues need to be recognised and focused upon, this tool of five year plans cannot be directly applied to ‘urban scenario’. The urban needs and characteristics with larger level of complexities require a strengthening of the National Planning Process. The planning process for urban areas need to recognise the critical need of infrastructure such as transport, water, electricity, housing etc in urban setup. At the same time at planning and policy level adequate attention needs to be given to the ‘informal economy’ that absorbs a large urban population in the most unstructured way. Our cities need to recognise and appreciate these informal workers whose faces we see in rickshaw pullers, vendors, rag pickers etc. A large number of ‘youth’ are migrating to urban areas and job creation becomes a critical and urgent need. Infact lot of crime and violence in the city can be reflected back to the lack of adequate employment opportunities in our cities.
  3. Adequate institutional strengthening at National level: At present the urban development is divided in the two ministries of ‘Ministry of Urban Development’ and ‘Ministry of Housing and Poverty Alleviation’. A single body that looks into and combines the visions of these two ministries is much needed for a holistic development of our urban centres. At the same time a dedicated nodal member at the Planning Commission that looks into matters of ‘urban development’ in specific is also required. Such institutional strengthening at the National level to address urban issues is the need of the hour.
  4. Capacity building at the state and local level: Even though decentralisation came in being at policy level in India long back, its translation on the ground is still missing. Urban local bodies do not have adequate capacity to plan, implement and finance urban development projects which are a clear mandate of these bodies. A lacking cadre in our urban local bodies also results in the staff being unwire of urban issues or with adequate training and capacity being designated responsibilities in these ULBs.
  5. Adequate attention to small and medium towns is required: Small and medium towns and cities have been most ignored in respect to national’s attention for planning, capacity building and financial support. Flagship programmes such as JNNURM focused only on large cities and ignored these small towns and cities. Towns such as Barely and Moradabad might offer great potential but are unfortunately ignored at both policy and planning level. Infact these small and medium towns are large catchment areas which not only see large influx of population from nearby villages but also offer an economical cost of entrepreneurship for these migrants when compared to their cost of living in large cities like Delhi. States like Punjab, Uttar Pradesh, Bihar etc. need urgent attention to these small towns that are quickly urbanising. This again reiterates the need for a comprehensive national urban policy.
  6. Integrated infrastructural development for urban areas: Technology and infrastructure needs are high in urban areas. Unfortunately these sectors do not work in unison as a result our urban areas lack basic level of services. Three sectors require urgent attention and their related departments need to work in an integrated fashion. The first sector is the energy sector. Here its various departmental sub-divisions such as nuclear, power, un-conventional sources etc. – all need to work ‘together’ to come towards a valid and sustainable solution for our urban areas. Similar is the case with ‘transport sector’ – here the railways, roadways, aviation, ports – all need to work in unison such that the urban user is catered to well. The third sector is housing where again the planning and development needs to be more integrated.
  7. Recognise the ‘potential’ of urban areas: Urban areas are not just significant for urban GDP but also for national growth. Once adequate attention is given to small towns and cities that are actually ‘source’ of various products to large cities such as agricultural produce – there can be a holistic development at national level.

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National Consultation on Urban Poverty held at Delhi

The much awaited National Consultation on Urban Poverty, learning from the work of PRIA and SPARC during the last two years for ‘Strengthening Civil Society Voice on Urban Poverty’ and inputs of various experts, policy makers, community members successfully concluded in Delhi on Friday.

The consultation was greeted with enriching participation of various stakeholders and also saw coverage in major newspapers and online media.

Find below some of the excerpts from the media coverage:

From ‘The Hindu’: A project carried out by the Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres (SPARC) and PRIA (Society for Participatory Research In Asia) in 34 cities in 11 States brought to fore issues that affect the urban poor, for instance there is no identity of the urban poor, despite the fact that 40 per cent of them live outside of slums.

PRIA president Rajesh Tandon said one-third of the country’s population is estimated to be living in urban areas and of this at least 50 per cent can be categorised as poor. “As per secondary data, cities’ economic contribution towards the GDP is two-thirds, of which the urban poor contribute nearly 25 per cent, yet resources for their problem alleviation is not even two per cent of the GDP,” said Dr. Tandon.

Speaking on the sidelines of the consultation, ‘Urban Poverty: Issues, Challenges and Opportunities’, he said the basic needs of the urban poor categorised as domestic helps, rickshaw pullers, daily wagers, hawkers, etc., cannot be ignored as a large percentage of this population make a major contribution to the economy.

“Ironically, these people are considered a burden on the city rather than equal citizens. Better urban governance is therefore a necessary condition for empowering the urban poor and improving their opportunities and security. Unless the implementation of these programmes is improved, it would be very difficult to bring the urban poor out of poverty. Policies addressing income and affordability, sanitation, health, etc. should be well structured and monitored,” he said.

The recommendations of the consultation, Dr. Tandon said, will be sent to the Planning Commission and the State Governments for forming coalitions at the city, State and Central level for meaningful engagement with the policy-makers.

Read more at: http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-national/tp-newdelhi/unheard-voices-of-urban-poor/article4839439.ece

From ‘The Business Standard’: The meeting on “Urban Poverty: Issues, Challenges and Opportunities” saw a gathering of people studying the issue come together in the national capital Friday.

Participants drew attention to the fact that a large percentage of the city population belonged to low income groups, and their needs could not be ignored.

Rajesh Tandon, president, Society for Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA), said people belonging to low income groups including rickshaw pullers, vendors, hawkers and daily wage labourers were “considered a burden on the city rather than equal citizens.”

“Better urban governance is necessary for empowering the urban poor and improving their opportunities and security. Policies addressing income and affordability, sanitation and health should be well structured and monitored,” he said.

Tandon said 40 percent of urban poor stay outside slums and the rate of inward migration was higher in smaller cities than in metropolitan ones.

Sheela Patel of the Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres ( SPARC) said efforts were being made to evolve a coalition of federations of urban poor.She said there cannot be a uniform solution to problems of the urban poor, and it had to be city-specific.

Aromar Revi of the Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS) said the rate of migration to cities could increase if there was collapse of agriculture.He pointed to other situations that could offer insights, saying that India’s rate of urbanisation was slower that in some Latin American countries.

Read more at: http://www.business-standard.com/article/news-ians/recognise-economic-contribution-of-urban-poor-urge-experts-113062100738_1.html

Stay tuned to Terra Urban for more updates and learnings from the Consultation!