India’s Urban Future: How to make our cities inclusive, productive and sustainable?


We live in an urban, and rapidly urbanizing, world.   In the coming decades, India will add an estimated 400 million city dwellers to its urban population. Cities, large and small, will be crucial arenas in global efforts to promote sustainable development, tackle climate change and reduce poverty and inequality.

Urban transformation is much more than a demographic change. Cities, in India as elsewhere in the world, are celebrated for their dynamism, diversity and resilience, their potential for creativity and innovation. At the same time, Indian cities face critical problems of socio-economic and spatial inequalities, joblessness, environmental pollution and climate risk.

In light of the above, Indian School of Public Policy or ISPP organized a workshop on India’s Urban Future: How to make our cities inclusive, productive and sustainable, on the 02nd of March, 2019, at the PHD Chambers of Commerce, New Delhi.

Prof. Dr. Yugank Goyal, Member, Governing Council, IPSS, commenced the workshop with a brief on the peripheral objective: “An urban transformation is underway in India, with deep social, economic and environmental implications. It is taking place in a time of environmental crisis, technological change and political flux.

How should policy-makers, researchers, practitioners and citizens understand this transformation, and respond to its challenges and opportunities? This is particularly important because rural to urban migration has reached unprecedented levels in India and cities have to rework their governance apparatus if they are to remain socially and economically inclusive as well as environmentally sustainable.”

The workshop was conducted by Dr. Shahana Chattaraj, whose research focuses on urban governance and policy in Indian megacities, the informal economy and informal urbanization, and urban infrastructure and development planning.

Dr. Chattaraj emphasized that urban policy problems are complex, and also interconnected, and cover issues such as jobs and industrialization; migration, infrastructure and housing; social policy and planning; land and urban development; climate change adaptation and mitigation. “Urban policy works at the scale of cities, neighbourhoods and regions – it is an emerging and increasingly important policy arena that will play a central role in shaping India’s future. A critical question for India’s future, and one that we need to give serious thought to, is what sort of governance institutions, policy approaches, skills and information we need for effective urban policy and planning? Cities provide a fertile ground for multi-disciplinary research and engagement between researchers, policy-makers and practitioners,” added Dr. Chattaraj.

Post the workshop, Prof. Goyal took questions from the audience pertaining to ISPP and its one-year flagship programme – PGP in policy, design and management. The post graduate programme that provides a unique focus on design and management in public policy has been launched by policy makers, industry leaders, and academicians, and blends theory with experiential learning. People like Nandan Nilekani, Arvind Panagariya, Vijay Kelkar are associated with ISPP as patrons and advisors.