India@75 is an Industry-led initiative, which in 2008 envisioned an India of 2022, in its 75th year of Independence; the ethos of the vision has been to enable change by facilitating convergence of stakeholders for a collaborative and participative approach, for translating the vision into a reality.
Stakeholder groups work together for specific initiatives to create models and movements that can be scaled up to bring about significant change in pursuit. The focus areas under India@75 are aligned to national priorities and therefore help accelerate the development agenda for the nation at large.
One such collaborative model that has been propagated by the India@75 movement is City Connect, which was evolved at Bengaluru as a participative urbanization model. India@75 identified it as a next practice, that could be evolved as a futuristic replicable model for sustainable urbanization of various cities through engagement of the local citizenry. Chennai and Pune adopted the model very effectively; it also found some success in Thiruvananthpuram, Panjim and Gurugram, besides informal adoption in various other cities.
City Connects are city-specific, multistakeholder collaboration platforms led by the industry that bring together different stakeholders in a city to work collaboratively with Urban Local Bodies (ULBs) to create sustainable urban spaces. They act as the conduit between the local administration and local citizenry, thereby ensuring participatory development. Apart from providing a citizen’s perspective on policy issues, City Connects also proactively pursue demonstrative advocacy by designing and implementing projects in areas that are critical to the well-being of the city. Typically, these include traffic, pedestrian-friendly infrastructure, public transport, power, waste management, roads, water supply, sewage, health, stray dogs, pollution, safety, arts and culture, and others.
An example of demonstrative advocacy is evident from the Bengaluru City Connect which raised funds to design Tender SURE – a document that details specifications of roads within the city for issuance of RFPs and tenders to executing agencies for delivering quality products. Tender SURE road standards mandate the integration of networked services under the road – water, sewage, power, OFC, gas, and storm water drains. The design of Tender SURE roads prioritizes the comfort and safety of pedestrians and cyclists, as well as recognizes the needs of street vendors and hawkers. It has been adopted and executed in 12 locations in Bengaluru.
Another successful program created by Pune City Connect (PCC) is the Lighthouse program. This is a sustainable livelihood program for urban disadvantaged youth. It was launched in collaboration with Pune Municipal Corporation & Smart City Mission in 2016. Till date, there are 13 lighthouses in Maharashtra, and these have enrolled 13,000 and enabled employment for 9,000 youth. The program has a placement sustainability of 63 percent and has reached 400 plus communities. Further, Pune City Connect is looking to expand the program across India. This collective action model not only leads to scale, but also leverages the specific expertise of various stakeholders in the city.
India is witnessing rapid and inorganic urbanization; cities are struggling to cope with the demands of an increasing populace and providing them with quality of life. Dealing with this phenomenon will need strategic policy interventions on the part of national, state and city governments
The importance of participatory development cannot be overstated in a democracy like India, where the social and economic landscape changes drastically every few kilometers. Going forward, integration of the participative approach with platforms like City Connect and Light House with Smart City Mission would be ideal to make the development sustainable through collective ownership.
This is an abridged version of the article by Mr Rajan Navani, Chair, CII Council on India@75 and Vice Chairman & Managing Director, Jetline Group of Companies, that first appeared in the August issue of the CII Policy Watch. Click here to read the issue.