General studies 1
- Effects of Globalization on Indian Society; Urbanization and related issues
General studies 2
- Important aspects of governance and e-governance
- Issues regarding services relating to Health, Education, Human Resource
Responding to rapid urban expansion
India’s urban population is expected to reach 600 million by 2031. However, much of this growth will not be in the core city but on its peripheries.
Major concern: ‘Urban Sprawl’ phenomenon
Population growth will not be in the core city. It will mainly be concentrated in semi urban or rural areas surrounding or adjacent to the core city – a phenomenon called ‘urban sprawl’.
- Urban sprawl is basically another word for urbanization. It refers to the migration of a population from populated towns and cities to low density residential development over more and more rural land. The end result is the spreading of a city and its suburbs over more and more rural land (i.e. dispersed outgrowth of areas outside the city’s core, engulfing many villages around it).
- A 2013 World Bank report, Urbanization Beyond Municipal Boundaries, found that rural areas adjacent to municipal boundaries are generating higher economic growth and employment than the city.
However, this ‘urban sprawl’ phenomenon poses many economic, ecological and institutional challenges.
- These areas are often characterized by the absence of basic infrastructure and services like water, sanitation, electricity, roads and transportation.
- With changes in land use, as seen in the commercialization of agricultural land, the ecosystem of the region is also threatened.
- In the midst of such a transformation, the livelihoods of people in peri-urban areas is increasingly become precarious (insecure or unreliable).
- Peri-urbanization areas are characterized by private developer-led growth and this only leads to the development of certain pockets like gated communities, with no attention paid to public infrastructure.
These areas are turning more dystopia rather than Utopian
“Utopian” describes a society that’s conceived to be perfect. Dystopian is the exact opposite — it describes an imaginary society that is as dehumanizing and as unpleasant as possible.
- The recent water-logging crisis in Gurgaon demonstrates how untrammelled development without the provision of basic urban amenities like a proper drainage system can result in an urban dystopia.
- In Bengaluru, the civic woes of peri-urban areas like Whitefield have arguably gotten worse after its amalgamation with the municipal corporation in 2007.
While the area of the corporation grew by almost four times, its institutional capacity to respond to the needs of the newly added areas remains weak.
What should the state’s response be to such a phenomenon?
Initially, the state’s response was to discourage urbanization and contain the outgrowth of cities. While there are many benefits in keeping cities compact, urban expansion has become inevitable.
“The key question hence is not how to contain urban expansion, but how to respond to the challenges posed by it”.
- Proper planning:
- Agricultural land in the urban periphery is acquired for mega-projects from farmers at very cheap rates and then transferred to various business and commercial units.
- The landowners and cultivators are left out of the development process and are often made to relocate.
Therefore, with Indian cities growing outwards, we need a policy response that goes beyond callous neglect, hasty amalgamation and brazen land acquisition.
Instead of merely amalgamating peri-urban areas with the city or giving real estate developers a free rein over these areas, a better approach is to plan for the future by identifying areas for growth and taking steps to ensure that these areas are first provided with basic urban infrastructure and services.
- Apply principle of providing urban amenities first
- In India, the Union government’s National Rurban Mission (and its earlier avatar, Provision of Urban Amenities to Rural Areas or PURA) seeks to provide high-growth rural areas with infrastructural amenities, economic activities and planned layouts similar to those available in cities.
- While the Mission aims to develop 300 “rurban” growth clusters, the same principle of providing urban amenities first can be applied to peri-urban areas adjacent to India’s mega-cities which may not administratively come under an urban local body (ULB).
- An interesting venture in this regard is the Urban Expansion Initiative, a project housed at New York University’s Stern Business School, which promotes a “making room approach” to urban expansion by identifying areas that are projected to urbanize and procuring land for public amenities beforehand.
- Good urban governance and sound institutional framework:
We need an institutional framework that adopts vibrant urban governance and planning processes to address the challenge of increasing urban expansion.
- However, even after the passage of the 74th constitutional amendment which sought the empowerment of elected municipal governments, India’s urban governance and planning regime remains paralysed.
- Though the amendment tasked the ULBs and the Metropolitan Planning Committee (MPC) with urban planning, various ‘development authorities’ working under the state governments continue to perform this function in most cities.
- For responding to a phenomenon like peripheral urban growth, an institutional framework that provides for a metropolitan-level planning and governance mechanism is essential.
- But to ensure that these processes do not get overly centralized, it needs to be supplemented by appropriate mechanisms at the city and neighbourhood level.
Hence, each level of urban governance—ward, zone, city and region—needs to be fortified. A useful framework for multi-scale urban planning is provided under the Union government’s Model Urban and Regional Planning and Development Law, which provides for planning at state, metropolitan and local level.
- Thus, an institutional framework that provides for the formulation and implementation of plans and policies at multiple scales can ensure that the vision of overall development of the metropolitan region as well as the needs of specific localities are in sync or settled through an inter-institutional dialogue.
- Hence, the challenges posed by urban sprawl can be better addressed by an institutional framework that establishes multi-scale governance and a policy approach that prioritizes the provision of urban amenities in peri-urban areas.
Connecting the dots:
- What do you mean by urban sprawl? Discuss the recent trends in urbanisation in India and briefly describe the main characteristics and problems of the major Indian cities.
- “The city of future is the future of city”. Comment.
- The story of Indian cities is nothing but growth without commensurate civic infrastructure. Do you agree? In this context, what role can the Smart City projects play? Analyze.
General Studies 1
- Women related issues
- Social empowerment
General Studies 2
- Government policies and interventions for development in various sectors and issues arising out of their design and implementation
- Issues relating to development and management of Social Sector/Services relating to Health, Education, Human Resources.
A question of human rights
This article forms a different perspective on abortion debate (Refer 3rd August, 2016)
- Worldwide, 46 million women seek abortion every year
- WHO: Close to half of 46 million abortions happen in unsafe conditions
- Sadly, even today, a woman dies every two hours of unsafe abortion à due to stigma around women’s sexuality and abortion
- In India, 20 million women seek to terminate an unwanted pregnancy every year.
- Inspite of having a law (MTP) which permits abortion access under certain conditions since 1971, widespread access to safe abortion services has not been ensured
A woman has right over her body and its integrity
- Many international human rights bodies, including UN, have paid attention to widen the access for safe abortion as well as called upon states to remove barriers to it.
- Human rights law: the woman has the right to choose whether to continue a pregnancy or not. It will fall within the framework of
- right to life
- right to health
- right to autonomy
- right to bodily integrity
- Enough evidence shows that non-availability of safe abortion kill. Where the abortions are non-restrictive, morbidity and mortality due to unsafe abortion are much lower
Abortion decision is not easy
- When a women decides to abort, the decision is not taken without considering related aspects
- Abortion is a way out of certain difficult situations like
- pregnancy resulting from coerced or non-consensual sex
- Ignorance that pregnancy may result even from the first sexual intercourse
- inability to use a method of contraception due to partner’s objection
- Fear of side effects
- Incomplete information and counselling at appropriate time
- Discontinuities in use of protection due to either irregular supply or method failure
- Abortion is also about not wanting a second child as it may affect the welfare of first child due to limited financial and other resources.
- These decisions are difficult to make as women would ideally prefer to prevent unwanted pregnancies but are unable to do so.
- Especially in cases of coerced pregnancies, if the women is forced to keep the child, it violates a woman’s bodily integrity and severely damages her mental health, aggravates the trauma and impedes her healing and recovery from such sexual violence.
The ethical talks
- In 80% developed countries, abortion is permitted for social or economic reasons
- As compared to it, only 16% person developing countries permit such abortion
- The Human rights law saysà a person is vested with human rights only at birth. An unborn foetus doesn’t have human rights.
- Reason: the foetus is not an independent entity.
- Its welfare depends on the welfare of the woman
- However, a woman is a living entity who will bear physical, mental and life turning changes by raising a child in her womb.
- Thus, only a woman has a right on how she wishes to deal with pregnancy.
Right of a disabled foetus?
- It had been previously mentioned that a woman is likely to terminate her pregnancy on being made aware about the deformities of the child
- What is not explained is the grim reality an adult woman or a young girl faces when she is pregnant with a child who is diagnosed with abnormalities
- The state does not offer any special relief for parents of disabled children
- The entire burden of education, medical care, daily care and future security falls on the family alone
- The MTP law gives 12 weeks or 20 weeks for abortion, as per the case. However, serious foetal abnormalities cannot be diagnosed before 20 weeks
- Such crucial tests are mostly done at 18 weeks and the results take three or more weeks!
- This does not mean that rights of disabled conflict with the women’s reproductive rights
- Many disability activists support pro-abortion rights
- Many who uphold reproductive rights are supportive of the rights of persons with disability to make reproductive choices so that they don’t have to face forced sterilisation or abortion
- In India, women should have the basic right to control their body, their fertility decisions and motherhood choices.
- The judiciary and the legislators have to encourage the women citizenry to observe their equal citizenship rights
- The constitution of India and various international covenants of human rights give a fundamental right to women to take care of her body as she wishes.
- It includes right to life, right to dignity and right to benefit from scientific progress.
- With various religious customs and traditional practices shadowed with patriarchal mindset, a secular state cannot have laws and policies directed by it.
- Ultimately, it is the women who carries forward the legacy of the family and not the male- scientifically. Hence, the women has the BASIC RIGHT over her physical and mental well-being.
Connecting the dots:
- A woman has the sole right to decide when it comes to pregnancy related issues. Do you agree? Examine
- In a patriarchal society, it is difficult for a woman to express her opinion. Analyse the rights of woman over her physical and mental well-being.
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The postcolonial blind spot
A River Runs Through It
Review triple talaq
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