The Institute for Democracy and Sustainability (IDS) together with National Alliance of Peoples Movements (NAPM) organising People's Dialogue on "Urbanizing India: Challenges of Democratic and Equitable Space". on April 26 and 27, 2015 will be held in Delhi on the theme "Urbanizing India: Challenges of Democratic and Equitable Space". at, Gandhi Peace Foundation auditorium, New Delhi.
Urbanisation has been declared as the future of India. India is no more a country of villages. Our villages are dying and rotting. But are our cities flourishing, alive and kicking ? Cities are seen as the hope and harbinger of success and the glitz and glamour keeps attracting millions every year.Cities continue to promise future, alternatives to rural drudgery, multiple livelihood opportunities and so on. However, the process of urbanisation has not received the necessary attention as villages did post-independence. As a result, many of our cities had unintended and unplanned growth, barring few exceptions.
The idea of self-reliant villages and village republics gave a model for people and planners to work with in the early years of independence. This to some extent marked neglect of focus and emphasis on the city development. Today, though the situation is different. The imagination and perception of cities amongst those migrating to them is different. The distinction between the urban and rural is not that stark and with the enhanced means of transport and communication, the mobility of people have increased.
Cities are no more the final stages in development of a society but one of the stages, as rapid urbanisation takes roots. Thisnecessitates a greater engagement from its denizens, policy planners, and government. There is acceptance and greater emphasis on the urbanisation process but does that lead to a paradigm shift in the approach to the unplanned and unintended growth of the cities. UPA government launched JawaharLal Nehru Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) and now NarendraModi government is aiming at building nearly 500 smart cities. These cities, some new and some upgrade of the older ones envision a city where the citizens will have access to services and will have abundance too, unlike the current cities which are under severe resource crunch in all dimensions. It's too many people fighting to access the limited resources and services available. On the face of it the smart city seems like an idea whose idea has come and there is a greater demand of it, but what happens to an idea that cities are open, welcoming and free for anyone, irrespective of class, creed and caste is welcome to come, settle down and living.
IDS and NAPM have been researching and organising around the issue of democratic and equitable space keeping in mind the interest of the poor, working classes and also of the urban development. IDS through its work on democratic transport has raised the question of democracy on the road and urban planning and NAPM on its part has intervened in the way urban development is taking place and fought to protect the housing rights of slum dwellers and their betterment.
IDS just concluded publication of a series of books on the question of "Urbanization Urban Mobility and its Challenges and Prospects". These books emerge out of an engagement over two decades and throw up many questions for the urban mobility in the country.The discussion aims to share ideas, knowledge and abilities to proactively engage on the issues of urbanization. The various topics of discussion will be;
a) City as a journey of Development: Challenges of Self-reliance and question of urban agriculture and cleanliness; b) The Unintended City; c) Smart Cities : Community Rights & Governance; Global experience and the Challenges; d) Politics of Industrial Corridors : Industrialisation and Urbanisation ande) Towards an Agenda for Self Reliant City