The OoruLabs podcast from Bengaluru explores solutions for urban sustainability. In this episode, Alok Prasanna, co-founder of the Vidhi Center for Legal Policy, discusses the challenges of governing megacities like Bangalore. He explains how our governance systems have not kept up with the rapid growth of urbanization in India, and why we need active interventions to scale up existing government structures. Listen to the podcast for more insights on urban governance and constitutional law in India. Don't forget to like, subscribe, and share.
The OoruLabs podcast from Bengaluru recently discussed the challenges of urban governance in India. Alok Prasanna, co-founder and Karnataka lead of the Vidhi Center for Legal Policy, joined the show to share his thoughts on the matter. The discussion centered around the size of Indian cities and the need for effective governance systems to keep pace with the rapid growth.
The National Capital Region of Delhi, for example, has a population of about 46 million and produces 7 to 8% of India's GDP. This region was created in 1985, but the Bengaluru Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (BMRDA) was created the same year with jurisdiction over around 8000 square kilometers. The BMRDA creates structure plans, and planning bodies create their own master plans based on this structure. However, the Constitution and laws are not equipped to deal with the rapid growth of megacities such as Bengaluru.
India is unique in that the urbanization that is happening is in the megacity range. People are moving from villages to cities with a population of over 10 million such as Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru. This growth has exceeded the imagination of the initial design of governance systems. The governance systems have not kept up with the pace of growth, and it is necessary to actively intervene in the systems to make them effective. Alok Prasanna emphasizes that municipalities and panchayats disappeared from the discussion when the Constitution was first being drafted. This is puzzling because during the colonial era, the British started setting up small cantonment and municipal boards, and representative elections were held for municipal issues. In fact, Bangalore is one of the first cities in India to have had representative elections that were not open to everyone. The municipal level governance was ignored during the framing of the Constitution, and it took until 1992 for the 74th Amendment to be added to the Constitution to begin addressing the issue.
The Sriman Narayana's idea for the Gandhian Constitution starts from Panchayat municipality, then it goes to state, and then it goes to union. This is not just a simple ordering, it tells you where power is concentrated, where it is distributed, what they're supposed to do, and what they're not supposed to do. The schedules in the Constitution, which were added along with the 73rd and 74th Amendment, give powers to municipalities and panchayats. However, this is not constitutionally legal. All this is the state governments may pass a law to grant some powers to municipalities and panchayats.
In conclusion, effective governance systems are crucial for India's megacities. The Constitution and laws need to be updated to keep pace with the rapid growth of urbanization. The focus of governance power needs to shift from the union government to the municipal and panchayat levels. The state governments need to actively intervene in the governance systems to make them effective.
In this episode of the OoruLabs podcast, Alok Prasanna from the Vidhi Center for Legal Policy talks to Sathya Sankaran about the challenges of urban governance in India's megacities. They discuss the history of municipal governance, the need for effective ward committees, and the limitations of the current system. Prasanna highlights the importance of right-sizing governance and active intervention to keep pace with the scale of growth in India's cities.