ASICS Report on urban governance of Indian cities reveals serious systemic inadequacies

Janaagraha released the findings of its Annual Survey of India’s City-Systems (ASICS) survey for 2015. The survey reveals that Indian cities continue to score in the range of 2 to 4.2 on 10, as against the global benchmarks of London and New York, which have scored 9.4 and 9.7 respectively. These scores imply that Indian cities are grossly under-prepared to deliver a high quality of life that is sustainable in the long term.

This is particularly worrisome, given the rapid pace of urbanisation in India, coupled with the huge backlog in public-service delivery. Only robust city-systems can prepare Indian cities to surmount both these challenges. The scores in this edition of the survey do not, by and large, show any significant improvements over the last edition.

The traditional Indian band-aid approach to solving these challenges (in the form of patchwork projects) will simply not work anymore. Root causes have to identified and addressed; in other words, the ailment needs to be treated and not just the symptoms.

Which is why, we have created the Janaagraha City-Systems framework, which takes a ‘systems’ view of urban governance. The framework has four broad components:

  • Urban Planning and Design (spatial planning, urban design standards)
  • Urban Capacities and Resources (municipal finance, municipal staffing, IT)
  • Empowered and Legitimate Political Representation (powers and functions of the city council, and their legitimacy)
  • Transparency, Accountability and Participation (public disclosure, accountability for service levels.

The ASICS 2015 report can be accessed here.

Highlights and key takeaways from the report can be accessed here.

Media coverage of the report

Some of the media reports on the release of this report can be viewed here.

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WHAT IS ASICS?

The Annual Survey of India’s City Systems (ASICS) is a diagnostic check to evaluate the quality of governance in our cities. The survey measures the health of India’s city-systems and identifies the systemic flaws and limitations that need to be corrected, in order to deliver a better quality of life for citizens.

Critically, it highlights the corrective action that needs to be taken.

ASICS 2015 was conducted across 21 major cities spread over 18 states of India. The survey used the Janaagraha City-Systems Framework as its basis to evaluates cities on 83 detailed parameters.

The higher a city’s score in this survey, the higher the likelihood that it will be able to deliver a better quality of life to citizens over the medium and long-term.