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Mainstream, Vol XLVII, No 8, February 7, 2009

Challenges to Governance within the Problematique of Urbanisation

Wednesday 11 February 2009, by Amna Mirza

[(BOOK REVIEW)]

Urban Governance in India: Issues and Challenges edited by Rajvir Sharma; Research India Press,
E-634, 1st floor, Sangam Vihar, New Delhi-110062.

With rapid urbanisation, proliferation of cities, increasing population, there arise new challenges as new vistas open up. Here comes a timely compilation of the issues, in the form of a compilation of scholarly articles, within the book titled as Urban Governance in India: Issues and Challenges, associated within the proble-matique of urbanisation.

Urbanisation is an irreversible phenomenon now. Though the majority of the population still lives in villages, the nation is dominantly identified with the image of its cities, as the jargon goes “Chak De India!”, as opposed to Bharat—the former is used in the context to describe the urban milieu while the latter is meant to pronounce the rural lexicon. The rise of cities poses challenges to govern them well. The government can only be a facilitator, new policies are needed to tame the forces of dynamic times, resources and funding. Trade-off between expectations and delivery, scope of participation avenues for public and private forces are significant factors to be pondered over and factored in for sound policy-making.

The book tries to encapsulate the paraphernalia of chapters pertaining to the aforesaid matters. Poornima Kumaria defines the concept of urbanisation and its growth in its demographic, economic, social, morphological realms etc. Prof Mohinder Singh and Amit Kumar try to give an outline about the structures of urban local self-governments in India like constitutional sanctity to Municipal Corporations with the 74th Constitutional Amendment Act.

Prof Sushma Yadav meticulously underlines how the process of urbanisation has been iniquitous in terms of its impact on the lives of those who thrive in cities. She gives a detailed analysis of the remedies to counter it like effective monitoring of poverty, development of infra-structure etc.

THERE are good case studies included in the book. Dr Ravinder Sharma talks about solid waste management in Jaipur city, Dr Adkisurender talks about the Suryapet Municiplaity in Andhra Pradesh, Manoj Dixit and Akansha Nigam highlight the Municipal Solid Waste Treatment Plant in Lucknow. These chapters serve the useful purpose of learning from each other. Though urban areas are diverse in terms of economics, demography etc., yet there is a common aspect of scarcity with the forces of demand being in surplus over those of supply.

The present global era is defined by the Internet Revolution. How the tools of the Information Technology are being used to cater to the challenges of urbanisation—logistics of E-urban governance—is described in the chapter by Prof Sangeeta Sharma and Manish Kumar Meena. They explain how the operational framework, the base of people‘s participation via the web is becoming enlarged, how the technology boom is making matters easy and transparent for the urban democratic set-up.

Thus, to sum up: this is an apt compilation at an appropriate time. A useful handbook for students, teachers and researchers. However, the exorbitant price needs to be checked so as to make it affordable for all alike. n

The author, doing her M.Phil in Political Science in the University of Delhi, is an ad-hoc Lecturer in Political Science, ARSD College, University of Delhi.

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