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Pune Tops in Urban Governance: ASICS 2017 Report

Published on March 19, 2018
Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy (Janaagraha) released the 5th edition of its Annual Survey of India’s City-Systems (ASICS) report. The report assessed the quality of governance in 23 major cities of India across 20 states based on 89 questions. The cities are scored between 3.0 and 5.1 on 10.

Top and Bottom Five

Pune secured the number one position from Thiruvananthapuram in ASICS 2017. Surat gained 12 positions over 2016 to the 5th spot. This was on the back of improved performance on own revenue generation, higher capital expenditure per capita by the city and implementation of AMRUT reforms including the appointment of an internal auditor and credit rating

Key Features of the Report

  • The report does not rank the cities on the basis of the quality of infrastructure and services such as roads and traffic, garbage, water, housing, sanitation and air pollution.
  • It measures the preparedness of cities to deliver high-quality infrastructure and services in the long-term.
  • It  evaluated the of spatial planning and design standards, municipal finance, municipal staffing, political leadership at the city level and transparency and citizen participation

Score Card Analysis

  • The 12 cities out of 23 covered under this report managed to score the points between 3 to 5.1 which indicates that Indian cities are under-prepared to offer a high quality of life which is sustainable in long-run. The recurring floods, garbage crises, fire accidents, building collapses, air pollution and dengue outbreaks are only symptoms of this deeper governance crisis in our cities. 
  • Overall, India’s cities have continued to score low over the last three editions of ASICS, with average score improving marginally from 3.4 to 3.9. This indicates slow progress on fixing City-Systems. This is particularly worrisome, given the pace at which India is urbanising and the already poor state of public service delivery in our cities. The report underlines the need for sharp focus on City-Systems or institutional reforms to city governance in our cities. 

Five Challenges

ASICS stated that there are five systemic challenges that need to be urgently addressed for our cities to deliver a better quality of life to citizens in a sustainable manner. These are:
  1. Lack of a modern, contemporary framework of spatial planning of cities and design standards for public utilities
  2.  Weak finances in terms of financial sustainability and financial accountability of cities
  3. Poor human resource management
  4. Powerless mayors and city councils a
  5. Total absence of platforms for systematic citizen participation and lack of transparency in finances 

Key Findings

India’s cities are improving at a snail’s pace, scoring between 3 and 5.1 out of 10 in the City-Systems framework. Global benchmark cities like London and New York score 8.8 on the same framework of evaluation, while Johannesburg, a city in a similarly placed developing country, scored 7.6.

About Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy 

Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy (Janaagraha) is a Bengaluru based not-for-profit organisation which is a part of the Jana group. It aims at transforming the quality of life in India’s cities and towns. The organisation defines the quality of life as comprising quality of infrastructure and services and quality of citizenship. Janaagraha works with citizens to catalyse active citizenship in city neighbourhoods and with governments to institute reforms to City-Systems.

City Systems

The systems that underlie urban governance collectively refer to as “City-Systems”. The systems refers to laws, policies, quality of institutions and accountability mechanisms that drive or give rise to the quality of life that we experience in our daily lives. The City-Systems framework comprises four distinct but inter-related components namely:
  • Urban Planning and Design (Spatial Planning, Urban design standards)
  • Urban Capacities and Resources (Municipal Finance, Municipal Staffing, IT)
  • Empowered and Legitimate Political Representation (powers and functions of city council, their legitimacy)
  • and
  • Transparency, Accountability and Participation (public disclosure, accountability for service levels 

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