Policy in Action- Urbanisation
The Centre for Policy Research turns fifty this year. Fifty years in the service of Indian policymaking, of keeping a robust conversation between the government, policymakers and the Indian populace alive – this is indeed a moment of pride and reflection for us. As we celebrate this special milestone, we present some snippets of our impact on the Indian policy sphere over the years in various areas of research.
This edition of Policy in Action is dedicated to our work on Urbanisation. When K C Sivaramakrishnan, former Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development, and subsequent chair of our Governing Board, joined CPR, he brought with him a perspective that continues to inform our work today. This was based, first, on his unshakeable faith in the legitimacy and effectiveness of local representative democracy, embodied in his role in crafting the 74th amendment to our constitution, documented in Power to the People? The Politics and Progress of Decentralisation (2000) and second, on viewing the urban, not just as cities, but as an unfolding process of national transformation as he argued in The Future of Urbanisation: Spread and Shape in Selected States (2001).
CPR continues this tradition of focusing on governance and this process of transformation, the manner in which it is influenced by policy and the implications it has for policy, in various forms – its work on special economic zones, on ground-up urbanisation in smaller urban centres, on megacity governance and differential access to services within cities, and the myriad forms of migration engendered by & engendering this transformation.
Much of the work at CPR on this transformation has been done, with deliberate intent, as part of national and multinational networks, the work on SEZs, Subaltern Urbanisation, Cities of Delhi, the Tacit Urban Knowledge Network, BRICS, SHRAMIC, et al., building on relationships across institutions like CSH, TISS, IIHS, HUL, IGIDR in India, and institutions like CESSMA in France, Brown University, the India China Institute and CASI in the US, LIRNEasia in Sri Lanka, Universities of Johannesburg and Witwatersrand in South Africa and Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences in China. The work has been generously supported by a variety of funders, the Government of India, ICSSR, Google.org, Tata Trusts, HDFC, Ford Foundation, IDRC, and others.
Here’s a snapshot of CPR’s work on Urbanisation over the years:
- In 2005, CPR contributed to restructuring Delhi’s bus system, most clearly visible in the orange buses that ply in Delhi today. It innovated a new contractual structure, a gross cost contract, which has recently being expanded nationally for public electric bus contracts, under the FAME scheme of the Government of India.
- In the latter half of 2000s, CPR engaged with two big questions of that time – the Special Economic Zones and the governance of our megacity regions, an issue that continues to engage us today. The work was published in two major books, Power Policy and Protest (edited by Rob Jenkins, Loraine Kennedy and Partha Mukhopadhyay) and Governance of Megacities: Fractured Thinking, Fragmented Setup by K C Sivaramakrishnan.
- A core contribution of CPR’s work on urbanisation through the years has been the focus on the spatial and economic transformation processes unfolding in India, particularly the important role of smaller cities and Subaltern Urbanisation, a framework which is being increasingly used in analysing urban India today. Contemporary schemes of the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs no longer focus on metro cities alone, but cover statutory towns of all sizes. CPR’s research on census towns has contributed to a growing policy focus on developing rural clusters, via the Ministry of Rural Development’s SP Mukherjee Rurban Mission.
- CPR engaged with civil society organisations on migration, working with them to broaden the policy engagement and discourse as part of the SHRAMIC initiative, across multiple locations. Closer to home, was the Cities of Delhi project that brought out the people’s view of the city into the broader policy research discourse, later supplemented by work on how citizens engage across the various borders that emerge in cities.
- In December 2015, in responding to a request for comments on a draft urban rental housing policy by the Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs (then: Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation), a team of CPR researchers, including fellow Mukta Naik underscored the need to include the informal rentals segment in the policy. This submission sensitised the Ministry to rental housing needs of unorganised workers, including migrants, an exercise that supported the quick deployment of the Affordable Rental Housing Complexes (ARHC) scheme during COVID, as a component of the PMAY in 2020, in response to the COVID migrant crisis.
- In 2017, Dr. Partha Mukhopadhyay chaired an inter-ministerial working group across different ministries on migration; its secretariat comprised many CPR colleagues with technical knowledge on migration. The report’s thrust on migrant inclusion, especially in social welfare and protection, was particularly useful to policy actors when India was confronted with the COVID migrant crisis in March 2020.
- At the time of writing, CPR continues to engage with the Smart Cities project, along with the NIUA and housing and contribute to major international reports such as the UNESCAP’s report on the Future of Asia Pacific Cities.
To know details about CPR’s work on Urbanisation, you can visit our website at https://cprindia.org/researcharea/urbanisation/ or the work of the Initiative on Cities, Economy and Society at https://cprindia.org/research/initiative-on-cities-economy-and-society/
Stay tuned for our next pop-up edition of Policy in Action, coming soon!