You are on page 1of 5



Cities are the citadel of economic development. The share of non-domestic activities in the GDP has
taken a giant leap. Today cities are undergoing unprecedented changes not only in terms of
demography, but in terms of economics, social, political and environmental changes, thus posing a
challenge to the governance of cities. What is Governance? Is it just good government elected by the
people for managing the cities or does it go beyond the word, government? Halfani and others see
governance in terms of the relationship between civil society and the state, between the rulers and
the ruled, the state and society, the government and governed [1]. The urban population of India is
31.16%. The level of urbanization increased from 27.81% in 2001 to 31.16% in 2011 and the
proportion of rural population declined from 72.19% to 68.84%. [2]
The demand for land, shelter, infrastructure and the basic services has gone up and the
environmental quality in this process has deteriorated. The lack of basic services calls for the
reassessment of the governance in the cities. The issue of effective urban governance with the
cooperation of all the stakeholders involved in the process is gaining immense importance. Hence,
recognizing the different stakeholders and their roles and responsibility, not just individually but
also collectively in governing the cities has become crucial, which is the prime reason for carrying
out this research. The study will be an attempt to assess the changing roles of the stakeholders
involved in the process and the limitations faced by the various institutions in the governance of any
city. Also, the incorporation of public participation, which seems to be losing its importance in the
governance process needs to be reviewed.

Governance, in the present scenario has become an important means to achieve economic and social goals
of the city. Today governance is about delivering services to the denizens, it talks about innovations and
ensures participation from all strata of society. The World Bank defines it as follows, . Governance in
general has three aspects (a) the form of a political regime (b) the processes by which authority is exercised
in the management of the countrys economic and social sources (c) the capacity of Governments to design
formulate and implement policies and in general to discharge governmental functions. (World Bank 1992,
cited in La Porte 2000). The essential elements of Governance are as follows (Colebatch 2002) [3]:
1. It focuses on the complex structure of Government i.e. multiple agencies, institutions, private sector
are interlinked in this web.
2. It is seen as a change, in theory as well as practice.

3. The diverse bodies involved in the decision making process are linked to each other and affect
policy decisions, hence a need is arisen among them to work in close coordination.


Has governance been diversified into good and bad governance? If so, what is good governance? As some
may assume, good governance is less government officials and more market share (private sector). But the
definition of good governance is not restricted here. It means a better connection between the officials and
a coordination among them in delivering smooth services. The UNDP (1997) defined following principles
associated with the concept of good governance:


Rule of Law



Consensus Orientation

Equity, Efficiency and Effectiveness


Strategic Vision

Good Governance calls for strengthening of these principles and assimilating them in a network for better
management to ensure delivery of services. Good Governance is no more just about the government, it now
involves planners, real estate players, local public and NGOs.


To establish a linkage between failures in governance institutions leading to delaying of basic

services to the city dwellers especially the urban poor.

To document and analytically assess the response of urban poor and marginalized group for
deprivation of services.

To analytically assess the policies adopted by the government for effective governance of cities.

To study the Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992 which clearly defines the role of
municipal bodies and public participation in the governance of cities.

Assessment of the role of local bodies, its potential and constraints faced.

Assessment of the role of community based organizations, NGOs and public participation
especially the disadvantaged group in the decision making process.

Documentation of previous case studies of effective governance to chalk out an easy comparison.


Strengthening of local governments is a pre-requisite if they have to be enabled to perform economic

development functions and to take advantage of new market opportunities.[4] In comparison to the
importance and potential of the local bodies, the limitations are many. The source of problem lies in the
fact that bulk of the important decisions affecting the cities destinies are made externally at higher levels of
polity. [5] The 74th Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992 empowers the local governments with more
power and responsibilities through decentralization of powers because local governments are closer to
people (Mathur 1999). The implications of this Act needs to be discussed at length. The question arises, do
these bodies enjoy an absolute power without the intrusion of State and the Central governments?


Recent studies on governance in cities for provision of basic services show that urban service market is
neither public run nor formal, nor even homogenous, rather it constitutes the complete mix of differentiated
arrangements in which together with public institutions, some private sector institutions are also
engaged.[6] There is a considerable role of private sectors in several spheres like its role in health and
transport sector is substantial enough. A proper documentation of the role of private sector is needed. The
form of these private institutions varies from the informal sector like local cab driver to the formal sector
like health services. Private sector now participates in the provision of infrastructure and services which
was once the domain of municipal bodies and other public institutions.
Also the role of NGOs should not be under estimated. They contribute in spreading awareness about the
environmental issues. Some of them have done phenomenal work in Urban and rural development, social
equity, heritage protection, environment protection etc. There is a need to recognize them as partners in
The issue of public participation is gaining importance in a democracy like ours. Through the 74th
amendments, passed in 1992, people were supposed to have a direct say in decision-making. It was designed

to assign powers to the citizens to ensure that they play an active role in governance. The community based
organizations and NGOs are the representatives of civil society. The views of the local public is of as much
importance as the policy makers. The ongoing protests in several cases especially in the environment vs.
development debate is the live example of the importance of views of local public. The importance is
reflected in the fact that public participation has been made mandatory in EIA or Environmental Impact

Detailed and extensive secondary research to help in selection of a cities in carrying out of research.

Exploratory visits to the chosen cities and discussions with the relevant stakeholders regarding the
governance of cities.

Carrying out research among different socio-economic groups for data collection. Local histories
of the area will be chalked out.

The research needs to be designed to test the hypothesis that there is a financial and legal crisis in the local
government, change in the roles of elected representatives and bureaucrats, where the latter is gaining
dominance, undermining the role of community based organizations and NGOSs, thus leaving the current
mechanism of governance in the cities incapable of addressing the challenges of city growth [7], depriving
the urban poor of the basic services.


There is a need of critical appraisal of the present system of governing institutions in order to bring out their
potentials and constraints of their evolving roles [8]. Douglas Yates remarks that urban governance is an
intractable jigsaw puzzle. Also, politics and bureaucracy are now like the two corners of the same room.
The very relationship between the elected government and the bureaucracy needs to be question as this
relationship is known to destroy the fabric of governance in the cities.
There are certain questions which need answers. Does politics and the economic condition of the country
influence policy making? Does interests of the private sector supersede over public interests? How the
governance structure varies across cities and whether the leadership of particular individuals is necessary
for governance [9]. What is the role of public sector in the ever changing politics? The research needs to
look at different case studies and make a comparison. An analysis of the policies adopted by the
governments to ease the governance is needed. The role of municipalities needs discussion by reviewing

Constitutional Amendment Act, 1992 and to what extent has it been implemented. The weak

positions of municipal bodies is a huge obstacle in the effective governance of the cities. Corruption in the
municipal administration is yet another impediment in urban governance.
Urban Governance is a broad concept. The relationship of the government with the society and other
stakeholders needs review. How governance in the city be improved in order to ensure that people get food,
shelter, health services and other essential facilities? Each stakeholder involved in the process has a role to
play, but at the same time it is also important that all of them work in collaboration with each other.

[1]. Halfani, Towards an Understanding of Governance: The Emergence of an Idea and it Implications for Urban
Research in Developing Countries. In Vol.4, Perspectives of the City of Urban Research in the Developing World.
Toronto: Centre for Urban and Community Studies, University of Toronto; pp4 (1994).
[2]. 2011, Census data, report by Government of India.
[3] Colebatch, H. K. (2002), Good Governance and Urban Planning, Paper presented in the international conference
on Good governance: perspectives and practices held on September 28-29, 2002 at Darussalam.
[4] Mehta and Pathak, (1994) Economic Development, Globalization, and Urban Governance in India in India: The
Challenge of Urban Governance.
[5] Datta, A. (1994), Institutional Aspects of Urban Governance in India: The Challenge of Urban Governance.
[6] National Institute of Urban Affairs .1992. Public Private Provision of Urban Services. Research Study Series No.
50.New Delhi: NIIJA, and Om Prakash Mathur. 1991.
[7] Scott Gissendaner, (2003), Methodology problems in Urban Governance Studies, Environment and Planning:
Government and Policy, volume 21, pages 663-685, Germany.
[8] Douglas Yates. 1977. The Ungovernable City: The Politics of Urban Problems and Policy Making, Cambridge:
The MIT Press.
[9] Tomasso Giovacchini, (2011) Governance and Representation in the Afghan Urban Transition in Opportunities
for Democratic Governance in Afghan Cities.