WEF’s “Indian Cities in the Post-pandemic world” report mentions cities critical role in post-covid India
News: World Economic Forum(WEF) has released a report titled “Indian Cities in the Post-Pandemic World”.
- About the report: The report has been produced in collaboration with IDFC Institute, Mumbai.
- It compiles insights from leading global and Indian urban experts across seven thematic pillars— planning, housing, transport, environment, public health, gender and vulnerable populations.
- Purpose: The report highlights the country’s most pressing urban challenges that were exacerbated by the pandemic. It also provides insights for translating the lessons learned from the pandemic into an urban reform agenda.
Key Takeaways from the report:
- Impact on Cities: Cities have borne the maximum brunt of the covid-19 outbreak, but they will also be key to India’s post-pandemic growth. They account for nearly 70% of the country’s GDP and an average of 25-30 people migrate to cities from rural areas every single minute.
- Households: About 25 million households in India—35% of all urban households cannot afford housing at market prices.
- Impact on Different Population Groups: The impact of the pandemic has been profoundly uneven on different population groups. Vulnerable populations, including low-income migrant workers have suffered the dual blows of lost income and weak social-protection.
- Greater decentralization and empowerment of local governments, which will allow for more proximate and responsive governance.
- Collection of data to help cities in managing and directing emergency operations during a crisis.
- Government have to create a new urban paradigm that enables cities to be healthier, more inclusive, and more resilient.
- Ensure the infrastructure that has adequate functional capacity, aligned with current and future demands.
- Prioritise action on environmental sustainability, air pollution and disaster management in urban rebuilding efforts.
- Prioritising inclusivity by addressing the biases and impediments faced by women and vulnerable populations in accessing urban opportunities.
Urban Governance Index 2020
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News: The Urban Governance Index 2020 has been released.
- Published by: The index has been published by Praja Foundation, a Mumbai-based think tank.
- Purpose: The index ranks states to indicate where they stand in terms of real empowerment of grassroot democracy and local self government.
- Themes: The ranking is based on these main themes— how empowered elected city representatives and legislative structures are; how empowered the state’s city administration is; how empowered the citizens are and finally the fiscal empowerment and financial autonomy of the state.
- Topped by: Odisha was ranked first in the index followed by Maharashtra, Kerala, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh.
- Worst States: Jharkhand, Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, Manipur and Nagaland performed the worst in the index.
Urban Quality of Life Index
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News: IIT-Bombay researchers have released an Urban Quality of Life Index.
- About the Index: The index has compared the quality of life in various cities in India and ranked them on the basis of various categories such as water, power, electricity, literacy rate, employment rate among others. For the first time, the index has factored in gender parity.
- Mumbai has topped the index followed by Delhi, Kolkata and Chennai.
- Among Gender Parity, Chennai is the most women-friendly city and Patna the least.
- Jaipur has the highest crime rate against women and Chennai recorded the lowest crime against women.
- The gap in literacy rate between men and women is the widest in Jaipur (13.2%) and lowest in Kolkata (5.4%).Literacy was the highest in Pune (91%) and the lowest in Hyderabad (83%).
- The unemployment levels for women in Patna is higher than the other cities, the gap stood at 346 which is four times the urban average score of 73.
Context- A radical shift is needed in our approach towards disaster mitigation and management. Government can handle cyclones better by investing in town planning and infrastructure.
What are the reasons of no major casualty or lesser destruction by cyclone Nivar?
Cyclone Nivar- It is the fourth cyclone that has taken shape in the North Indian Ocean region this year. The reason for lesser destruction are-
- Correct weather forecasting– IMD has pointed the track of the cyclone very early and his help with adequate warnings and evacuation from the coast.
- Disaster preparedness – The NDRF deployed 25 teams and disaster management equipment in the coastal areas of Tamil Nadu, Puducherry and Andhra Pradesh.
- Government readiness – The Tamil Nadu government has shown brisk readiness in handling the acute challenge of a severe weather event.
What are the concern concerns?
- Unplanned development– Unplanned development, encroachments in riparian zones, failure of flood control structures, unplanned reservoir operations, poor drainage infrastructure, deforestation, land use change and sedimentation in river beds are exacerbating floods.
- Indiscriminate encroachment of waterways and wetlands, inadequate capacity of drains and lack of maintenance of the drainage infrastructure.
- Governments have not shown the rigour to collect and publish data on annual flooding patterns, and measure the peak flows in the neglected rivers and canals to plan remedies.
- The aftermath now presents an opportunity to make a full assessment not just for distribution of relief but also to understand the impacts of extreme monsoon weather.
- Governments and local bodies should hardwire urban planning and invest heavily for a future of frequent disruptive weather.
Urbanisation and pandemic
Context: Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s call for a reimagining of urban planning and development to make cities and towns healthy and liveable after COVID-19.
More on news:
- PM emphasised resetting the mindset, processes and practices for safe urban living, and acknowledged that governments actually do little for the working millions at the Bloomberg New Economy Forum.
Discuss the spread of pandemic in urban areas and associated issues.
- Spread of pandemic: The top 10 cities affected worldwide accounted for 15% of the total cases, and data for populous Indian cities later showed large spikes that radiated into smaller towns.
- Reason for the spread: Rapid transmission in Mumbai, Delhi, Bengaluru and Chennai was the unavoidable outcome of densification and an inability to practise distancing norms.
- In Dharavi, which has one of the world’s highest slum densities, epidemiologists point an apparently low viral impact to screening and herd immunity.
- Social impact: The pandemic’s full social impact, especially among the poorer people has not been adequately measured here or elsewhere.
- Housing: Good and affordable housing is the basis of a sustainable and healthy city.
- Well-designed rental housing that is the key to protecting migrant labour and other less affluent sections remains poorly funded.
- Mumbai is estimated to have added only 5% of rental housing in new residential construction (1961-2000), and that too led by private funding.
- Enforcement of laws: Laws on air pollution, municipal solid waste management and water quality are hardly enforced, and tokenism marks the approach to urban mobility.
What can be done?
- Schemes: An opportunity to make schemes such as the Centre’s Affordable Rental Housing Complexes deliver at large scale and focus on new good houses built by the state.
- Demand and supply: The Ministry of Housing could work by digitally combining and transparently publishing data on demand and supply for each city.
- Learning from the past: Past menaces such as cholera, the plague and the global flu pandemic a century ago led to change such as sewerage, waste handling, social housing and health care that reduced disease. Something on the same lines should be done about the pandemic.
- Government should show the political will to reinvent cities after the pandemic is over.