City-Systems Reforms

Over the years urban residents have become immune to living with overflowing garbage in their backyards, arduous commutes to their workplaces, shabby housing and minimal social or cultural outlets. These day-to-day travails point to a deeper malaise within our cities – that of poorly-resourced city governments and badly managed cities.

It is time to move the lens away from the challenges that we encounter and delve deep into the systemic shortfalls that lie at the root of these inefficiencies. At Janaagraha, we believe that cities should be viewed through a structural construct that we refer to as the City-Systems framework. Depicted through a metamorphosing butterfly with four wings, the City-Systems framework defines four significant aspects of urban transformation – Urban Planning & Design; Urban Capacities & Resources; Empowered & Legitimate Political Representation and Transparency, Accountability & Participation. We believe that fixing India’s City-Systems is crucial to fixing our cities and consequently improving the Quality of Life for our citizens.

Four dimensions of our City Systems

BUTTERFLY-02Laying the foundation for sustainable urban development through robust planning and design policies that respond to contemporary demands and aspirations, respecting federal structures and democratic principles. Building spatial plans that anchor the long-term political, social, economic and environmental vision for a city and its region / guide all public agencies towards delivering on that vision. Fixing India’s urban roads networks – life blood of the city and chief pain point for citizens.
BUTTERFLY-01Training better Bureaucrats and Administrators to strengthen the ‘steel frame’ of India.
Creating well-resourced Urban Local Governments to meet the demands of India’s urbanisation.————————————————————————-
BUTTERFLY-03Empowering urban voters through clean voter lists.
Increasing voter turnout to ensure higher quality elected representatives.
BUTTERFLY-04Building tomorrow’s active citizens through local level civic education. Improving the safety of our neighbourhoods and bridging the gap between citizens and police through citizen participation in Community Policing. Creating Transparent and Accountable Urban Local Government through reporting and disclosure. Building a growing constituency of citizens who are engaged in their cities’ budgets. Using the voice of citizens to tackle ‘retail’ corruption in government services through our online platform Fostering the urban civic ‘community’ – Allowing citizens to connect with one another, and with their civic agencies / local governments, to make a real a difference in their own neighbourhoods through
Systemic interventions and the ‘three Ps’ to scale
Janaagraha does not run ‘one-off’ direct interventions. It runs initiatives that can be replicated, scaled, and adopted from the grassroots to government levels throughout India, through Partnerships, Platforms, and Policy reform.
Janaagraha’s work addresses four dimensions of our City Systems Framework for better cities.
These dimensions are reflected in whole, or in part, in all the world’s great cities.

Municipal Finance

Quality of infrastructure and services in cities is inter alia directly related to lack of availability of adequate financial resources (for both capital expenditure and operations and maintenance expenditure) and accountability for such financial resources.  This is particularly true in India’s cities.

Municipal Finance Reforms therefore seek to achieve two goals with respect to our cities 1) financial self-sufficiency and 2) financial accountability. Both financial self-sufficiency and financial accountability are key enablers of transformation in quality of infrastructure and services.

Janaagraha’s Municipal Finance Blueprint envisages the following five components as pathways to accomplishing these two goals:

  1. Integrated Institutional Design covering:
    1. Integrated view of city’s finances
    2. Integrated treasury management
  2. Fiscal Decentralization covering:
    1. Widening of Municipal revenue base
    2. Rationalising transfers from state and making them more predictable
    3. Control over tax rates and capital values, for revenue buoyancy
    4. Independence to Municipalities for budget setting and expenditure
    5. Greater powers to Municipalities to tap  private capital
  3. Revenue Optimisation
    1. Revenue optimization through improved collection efficiencies, higher Return on Assets
  4. Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management covering :
    1. Robust financial reporting
    2. Medium Term Fiscal Plans
    3. Better quality budgets
    4. Citizen participation in budgeting and civic works
    5. Robust internal controls and operational risk management
  5. Transparency and Accountability covering:
    1. Laws that enable timely publication of financial and operational information in the public domain; redressal mechanisms for non-compliance
  6. Institutional Capacities covering:
    1. Availability of adequately skilled human resources particularly in revenue and finance functions
    2. Information systems supporting the same

Municipal Staffing

Our work on Municipal Staffing is based on a tool that we are evolving called Destination Organisation Chart.

DOC is a tool to fix the organisation chart of a municipality based on its target service levels, workflows and operational units so as to ensure it has adequate number of skilled staff to deliver high quality public services. It aims to solve the quality and quantity problem faced by local bodies with respect to municipal staffing.

DOC provides a roadmap for resolving the staffing needs of municipalities and identifying the process improvements required to yield better performance of the organization as a whole. Requisite skill-sets are defined against individual job descriptions, assessing the optimum number of employees required, and recommending reforms required for bolstering the performance of Urban Local Bodies.

Our Team