Category Archives: Governance

Sealing & FAR: Politicians can see what the media and the older generation have missed

Every now and then I get to one of the much maligned’ commercial’ spaces in Delhi. Currently under attack from some RWA members these commercial spaces could be in CP, GK2, GK1 markets or Khan Market, or on mixed use streets mostly within my radius of regular commute.  I meet up with friends for coffee; I land up to listen to some blues, enjoy some bookshop browsing, savour some new cuisine, or I buy myself some stuff.  I am struck by the preponderance of the young in such places. Cheerful, dressed lightly and laughing they are mostly oblivious to the ‘commercial doom’ being forecast.

I don’t see older people at Delhi’s commercial spaces, simply because they are not designed to be older friendly. Traffic jams, no safe footpaths, being forced to walk on the road along with trucks, unregulated traffic and messy parking all contribute to an unpleasant experience for the older generation

This is perhaps why it is not the young, driven by work, growth and entertainment that are opposing ‘commercialisation’ but the older RWA members who feel sidelined and insecure in the melee.

It is not the commercial spaces that are the problem but the management of the environment around them which irks the elderly. Rightly so. Not only commercial, many other facilities such as metro stations, small nursing homes, eateries, playschools required by the young and aspiration filled population of Delhi are troublesome because of parking problems and traffic jams because the periphery is badly managed or because restaurants put untreated waste into their sewers. The distinction between commercial activity and its fallout(‘externality’) has to be clearly seen to be managed. It has to be taken into account by policy makers, planners and by implementing agencies

This is a point the few older RWA people, fail to get as they attack commercial establishments and traders. This is a point the Media has not considered in it’s otherwise widespread coverage

Does that mean unbridled conversion of residential to commercial? Certainly not.  It’s not a ‘this vs that’, black vs white proposition. Youngsters, older people, women, traders and residents are not separate or disparate entities. They are connected socially, economically and as members within a family.

Changes in population also require corresponding changes in supporting facilities like affordable commercial and office spaces too. As prices for commercial spaces escalate and there are only those many jobs in comparison to the increase in population. The ordinary entrepreneur who seeks to fulfill her ambition finds herself at sea. As businesses move to a greater orientation towards services this middle class ‘start up’ finds no legitimate space available at an affordable price. There are no SFS offices unlike SFS flats. There is a dire shortage of planned office space in virtually all areas of Delhi. Choked and pushed into a corner for survival the entrepreneur seeks to find a place in urban villages, in residential areas, or wherever else she can to create a livelihood. This too escapes the older citizens who can’t seem to empathize with the young and the restless. The politicians know this but it has escaped media attention.

I am not arguing for an unbridled increase in FAR or providing amnesty to those who resort to unauthorized residential and commercial activity. All I am making a case for is to shed the paranoia of increased FAR and shift our attention to a keener, more active regulation and oversight of how residences and commercial establishments conduct themselves in society in relation to waste, untreated effluents, fire safety regulations parking in public spaces and pedestrian movement. Densely populated and successful cities do not trivialize those conditions.

Any planning model has thresholds beyond which known formulae fail. This is precisely what is happening here. The authorities are overwhelmed by the sheer volume of people. Add to that, the desire to maximise profit through land has compromised DDA’s ability to plan in public interest. When profit through land is staring an organisation in its face it is very hard to plan for those who can only pay less.

Instead of blindly dismissing the increase in FAR we need to pause and think slowly. This auto-conditioned response to ‘commercialization’ must stop. The needs of the many must be considered before surrendering to the fulminations of a few.


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Densification is the way to Decongestion.

The drive initiated by the Supreme Courts’ monitoring committee and the subsequent sealing followed by changes to the Delhi Master plan has kept many of us in URJA engaged in several discussions. The DDA has increased the FAR for commercial units in residential areas and has faced opposition from several public activists in Delhi

Bluntly put, there is no choice but to increase FAR in many areas. Delhi has a booming economy with one of the highest per capita income among all states in India. There is the massive population of Delhi with spending power, fuelling the demand for goods and services. The demand supply dynamics coupled with a burgeoning young population of aspiration filled voters will simply prevail. Over the years the UD ministry has failed to create adequate commercial space which is accessible to the ordinary entrepreneur. Expensive high end mall space just does not do it.

The idea of TOD(Transit Oriented Development) and Densification which planners (including the DDA) have envisaged for Delhi is the need of the hour. But the operational departments of the DDA as well as other Government departments, Police, Municipalities etc. involved in managing the city have failed to achieve this planning objective

There is no ‘elsewhere’

A conversation about exporting our waste, traffic and migration to elsewhere and making exclusive enclaves, returning Delhi to some city of yore is unrealistic.  The original idea of Delhi was based on a planned city where there was an ‘elsewhere’. Buses could be parked far away, sewage could be discharged untreated into the flowing river, Municipal waste could be taken to Landfills, people could live in NOIDA and Gurugram while Delhi’s planned colonies and SFS flats remained pretty enclaves of peace.

It didn’t quite work out like that. Delhi was allowed to metamorphose into a dense cluster of unauthorised colonies deprived of basic amenities, motorized vehicles reached unimaginable numbers, urban villages became vote banks as well as concrete jungles, landfills overflowed & collapsed, the parliament legitimized all past illegal construction and then; outlying rural areas refused to take pampered Delhi’s waste and Haryana started to deposit more and more sewage and draw more water, along with Delhi, into the Yamuna making it into a filthy drain.

Appealing to the rule of law with unclean hands

After having had the law on FAR changed to their own advantage as well as resort to illegal encroachment on public land and build unauthorised dwelling units, it is somewhat disingenuous of a few residents to take a holier than thou attitude towards increased FAR for commercial activity. Residents forget that they are the consumers of the same commercial services that have made their lives ‘convenient’. Residents forget that they park their own cars on footpaths and buy cheap from illegal vendors on footpaths. Civic agencies and the police have been simply incapable of law enforcement or timely implementation of policy. Violations should be punished but moving forward, the city has to plan for itself differently to remain sustainable

Densification for Decongestion; Managing chaos is the way forward for Delhi

Best be rid of the idea of decongestion by offloading our mess onto some other place. There is no scope for it

A municipal ward/assembly constituency cannot remove commercial space from its geography and ask for it to be taken elsewhere. Which other ward will accept it? They have enough troubles of their own!

Now that we have reached this urban crisis the intelligent thing to do is to look at what opportunities we can find here and turn this to our advantage. Economic growth and the availability of a large range of goods and services, which would otherwise not be viable, have now become possible. Cheap radio cabs as an option to owning cars, delivery of a wide variety of services including multiple cuisines, delivery of online retail purchase are some of the services that become viable and accessible only at scales higher densities provide. Properly done, densification appears to bring about economic & lifestyle benefits and vibrant places with amenities close by.  Mixed use areas provide more dwelling diversity & densification comes in many shapes other than just high rise.

There are many options which are beyond the scope of this article but businesses benefit when a diverse, multi-generational population has amenities close to home. Mixed use areas can reduce our dependence on automobiles by building in bike lanes, pedestrian-only streets and easy access to rapid transit. These multi-modal transport elements help to manage traffic congestion and reduce parking issues. These are well known ideas practiced in cities with high population densities. This may require redevelopment or retrofitting and remodeling for change but it does appear to be the best way forward given where we are now. Transforming ageing infrastructure is also an economic growth opportunity.

This is not possible for the authorities to achieve without a public buy in. Just putting out a public notice inviting comments will not do. A time frame should be fixed and a comprehensive plan to engage with the residents through local political leaders, RWAs and Market Associations, religious institutions and public spirited citizens should be carried out to plan for the future management of the city.

It must also be stated very clearly that densification and TOD, in Delhi’s context require finely managed urban spaces. This includes heightened monitoring and intervention by the DDA, Municipalities and the police for compliance. But all this requires up to date and very accurate maps that take into account the truth from the ground with the minutest detail being reflected. Many maps in the master plan are outdated and inaccurate*.

Good urban design with detailed physical planning and design is essential for a better city. It cannot be left to happen on its own.

There is little room left for the authorities to abdicate their responsibilities any longer. Any new plan for Delhi absolutely must have a special provision for penalizing and punishing officers if they are found to have obviously ignored a violation of public spaces and environment laws. Dereliction of duty is no longer an option. Thus far and no further; bureaucratic unaccountability should not be acceptable to the public.

Any violation of  public spaces by citizens too, must be dealt with swiftly.

The resident of Delhi must pull herself out of the rut of old thinking which, unfortunately is being reinforced by a few noisy voices. The citizens have no choice but to be open to change. We cannot keep thinking about the past. Nostalgia is good but the future has to be better.


  • The Residents of Alaknanda found this to their horror when it became evident that some officers in the  DDA had facilitated the sanction of a giant mall in the middle of DDA SFS housing based on traffic movement on a non- existent road as well as by violating the provisions in the MPD.
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The brouhaha over commercialisation in Delhi

Recently there were several news articles in the press citing the views of Delhi RWAs over DDA’s proposal to increase FAR for shops and commercial establishments in residential areas on payment of conversion charges.

At the very outset, it should be pointed out, particularly to press reporters that there is no such thing as a common view of Delhi’s RWAs.  Any person or group claiming to speak for all RWAs is misleading the press as well as the public. Several RWA federations exist, but given Delhi’s diversity, no two RWAs are alike and all have a different view on different matters. Federations usually work by collectively leveraging for common area development even as their members differ on various issues. At times some RWA may express a common opinion but to lay claim to an all encompassing view of all Delhi’s RWA is simply not true

Coming to the issue of this purported denouncement by few individuals from RWAs, of DDA’s proposals to increase FAR, the least that can be said is that their position is morally untenable, politically immature and technically unsound

Demands like providing additional infrastructure before increasing FAR show a lack of understanding of how retrofitting ought to be done when densification is the need of the hour. Delhi’s population density has increased 500% since 1980 and its RWA simply cannot afford to dish out the same stock statements, unchanged, since the 80’s

It is indeed surprising that residents who have over the years resorted to large scale illegal construction in Delhi’s posh colonies and DDA SFS flats, fought and lobbied to have their own FAR enhanced under the grounds of genuine need,  today take a faux moral position on the same need of commercial establishments. RWAs comprise of member  residents who have built builders floors, converted one house into multiple apartments and basements, parked 10 times the cars on pedestrian walkways, occupied the back and front service lanes and made crores by selling and renting their own properties for commercial gain, are now crying wolf over when someone else is seeking to enrich himself commercially!

It is my view that if the tables were turned by the Supreme Court’s Monitoring Committee, the same residents of posh colonies will be running for their lives when bulldozers come looking for illegal construction/encroachment in residential back yards, front/back lanes and roofs or tow away their cars that have ravaged the footpaths forcing pedestrians to risk their lives. Crores worth of public land has been taken over by these worthies. RWAs do not write to the MCD or the Government reporting the illegal acts of its own subscribers (they should, for the sake of our city) but some of them have been rather shrill in denouncing commercial spaces.

Delhi has a shortage of commercial space and excessive illegal and unauthorised residential space, so the position taken by some people in RWAs is untenable. Delhi needs densification, transit oriented development and an increase in FAR. We will need to find ways and means to co-exist with an increased pressure on existing infrastructure through an intense management of spaces, traffic, parking, water and air rather than hope that the problems of high migration, multiplying families, economic boom can have their after effects exported to some far flung area.

Again, on the issue of parking the position taken by some RWA members is sullen and cynical. That does not help. The State simply does not have the wherewithal to chaperone and/or punish a population opposed to the rule of law. RWAs will have to clean up their own act before throwing stones at others from their own house of glass. The demand raised that the Government ought to provide “adequate parking for residents in their vicinity” is disingenuous. It is tantamount to saying that an owner of 10 cars is entitled to be provided parking by the Government. By that logic parents of 10 children are entitled to housing in their neighbourhood and that all shopkeepers are entitled to warehouses for their goods. This kind of ridiculous argument gathers momentum among unthinking people and public pressure through civil society groups produce a master plan based on false precepts. This must be avoided.

It is correct that impelled by greed and pressures of competitive & partisan politics, the city has made a mess of things but moving forward the Resident Welfare Associations and Market Trader Associations will have to sit across the table and very honestly admit to their own complicity in aiding and abetting Delhi’s slide into this catastrophe.

The Government must punish those who have violated the existing law and those who have broken existing rules. But moving forward, laws will have to be changed to accommodate mammoth changes in the city’s migration, politics, demographics and economy

There is no such word as ‘decongestion’ and ‘purely residential’ in a highly populated, extremely dense and politically surcharged city. We will have to organise within this chaos, and there are ways of doing it if resident as well as market bodies stop having double standards and brainstorm to get their act together. Else be prepared to have politicians continue to manipulate and retain their hold over a crumbling city


The views expressed by the author are personal

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URJA Editorial January 2018- Time To Declare A War On The Plastic ‘Panni’

Readers should try this simple experiment. Search google for images of ‘garbage in Delhi’. You will be presented with mounds of multi-coloured plastic packets, wrappers and tetra packs.

In terms of weight plastic may not constitute much, but in terms of causing trouble, plastic is a significant troublemaker.

When reminded, people usually say that it is a small part of waste and other things add up to more so why focus on plastic?

Catalysts are usually substances that are added to accelerate chemical change. In the case of plastic, removing it will result in acting as a catalyst for waste management

Plastic, particularly the thin ‘panni’ type is compounding the management of solid waste. The same plastic is choking our storm water drains leading to flooding. The same plastic creates a problem when the drains are desilted

This plastic is also being burnt illegally in brick kilns poisoning the air we breathe in.

We must make plastic in waste our enemy number one if we want to manage the waste problem in Delhi. This is not to say that things like E waste are less toxic but plastic is released by households daily poisoning our own lives and making our neighbourhoods ugly

Please become extremely conscious of plastic. Look around and every mound of waste is crowned by layers of plastic.

If every household and RWA decides in right earnest that not a single piece of plastic will go to the dhalao and instead be contained and disposed off separately in a proper manner to be recycled appropriately, much of the ugliness of our garbage can be made to disappear

Think about it. It is not that difficult to do.

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URJA Editorial December 2017-Water Management Reforms—A Crying Need

The issue of water tariff and tariff of utilities raises some questions that must be addressed.  Usually whenever tariff is raised, public opinion is forced to coalesce around rates with political sides taken thoughtlessly and with activists on either side jumping in to buttress a position already taken.

The original idea of a 10% increase annually was flawed and opposed by URJA as it was positioned around the generalized belief that prices should inevitably go up and that is somehow the way of the world. This position if at all justifiable should have been complemented with increased efficiency, conservation, better technology and better sewage treatment also as deliverables.

Taking the first for granted, to raise tariff, and completely ignoring the second makes for monopolistic opportunism and end up in bureaucratic ineptitude and wastage of public funds. Subsidizing through tax revenue to keep tariff low (both in water & Electricity) is nothing but inefficiency. Any Government can do that but it does not augur well for long development. It also signifies a lack of long term political vision from our political leaders who succumb to short term populism for votes without a plan in place to sensibly lead the people to a better understanding on resource management for future times

The freebie centered, povertarian politics in India does not consider an efficiency oriented delivery of major utilities. This is the reason why water and sewage infrastructure in Delhi remains archaic and centered around politics rather than on efficiency

The failure of the Government in ensuring significant development, commensurate with the problem, in Rain water harvesting among Delhi’s colonies and institutions is a telling example. As late as June 2017 the NGT was directing that the Government ensure RWH in All schools.  We are far away from any significant Grey and black water recycling as well as protecting the Yamuna from being flooded by millions of tones of sewage and pollutants daily. Though some Municipal corporations have declared their area open defecation free it is not possible to ascertain how much extra untreated sewage (which was earlier leaching into the ground) will now be dumped into the river.

What cannot be explained is the slow or near absent rate of modernizing the water infrastructure, sewage & replacement of old and crumbling pipes. Equally disappointing is the lack of Government initiative in promoting innovative water recycling for communities and a host of other technologically intelligent and possible community initiatives that will bring residents together to truly enjoy water conservation, recycling and usage, instead of seeing it as a difficulty alone

The record of Delhi Government on water does not show up in a good light. The Government has failed to

  • Ensure Behavioral change in water consumption through regular law enforcement
  • Deliver water directly to overhead tanks and restrain the use of online boosters
  • Penalize wastage and overflow from tanks by surprise checks and on spot fines
  • Aggressively enforce RWH & replenish adequate ground water levels
  • Prevent vote banks from openly thieving/looting water from pipes and regulating the same to provide water supply to impoverished areas under metering
  • Carry out a massive citywide survey to bring all persons drawing water under Government record
  • Have a record on Septic Tanks in unauthorised clusters.

An explainable rise in tariff is simple and does not require much intelligence except ordinary street savvy cleverness. A big leap in thinking on how we will manage water efficiently for the burgeoning population and need of Delhi requires an intelligent big think that the city leadership must bring into its imagination

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Emergency response needed for Air pollution as experts & Politicians debate

Once again the Specter of air pollution looms large upon us. Delhi is polluted throughout the year with the situation exacerbating in winters.

This is not Delhi’s problem alone as large swathes of land in the indo gangetic plains suffer this scourge
Over the last 2 years URJA and the Delhi Clean Air Forum has held several meetings and conferences with the best organisations and researchers in this field. Our zonal level meetings have conferred with religious leaders of all faiths and politicians from all parties, MLAs, Municipal councillors as well as school teachers.
With the disappointing response of top political leaders including the Environment Minister (BJP) and the immature conversation of Chief Ministers of Delhi (AAP) and Punjab (Cong) on social media it is evident that the air quality situation is not solving anytime soon

The only respite may be courtesy the weather Gods
Clearly the air pollution crisis is not going away some for some years in Delhi and we should therefore prepare our self for the long haul and a long siege while politicians squabble and experts pontificate.
At several meetings RWA and ground level activists we are coming around to the view that the state administration should increase preparedness for a constant emergency like response rather than look to the weather or Punjab or coal powered plants outside Delhi for solutions

The administration should have a rapid response in terms of sprinkling of water, authorised by local MLA and councillors who should be empowered to take this decision based on air monitoring in their area
The RWA should be entrusted mandatorily to report to the DC MCD zone and SDMs any waste burning or construction which does not follow norms and RWA should be penalized if they fail to do so. The RWA can also be penalized for illegal construction, dumping of malba etc. This will go a long way towards empowering them and justifying their intervention to the perpetrator

The air around us is finite and today large scale open air HEPA filtering machines are available to clear air in parks, hospital compounds and public places. There is no reason why the ordinary citizen should not be offered public filtration of air when he cannot afford in house filters
The State should tender for large procurement of face masks for all that are available at cheaper rates and provided by the state on no profit.

URJA is not demanding free services but is demanding the provision of emergency services to the taxpayer
Too much of discussion and argument on awareness, solutions etc has kept people occupied without respite
We need daily succor from this poisoned air. If the state has to provide giant filters, masks and empower MLAs and councillors, jointly with RWA to authorise sprinkling so be it. People are not prepared to die on account of the argumentative expert or politicians. Enough is enough

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Minimum Government, Maximum Governance in Urban India- Myth & Possibility

All governments, regardless of their political inclination will fail to deliver till they fix the administrative mechanisms that are meant to deliver on Government policies and plans. A rickety & flawed system will always beat a ‘Visionary’ or ‘well meaning’ (there have been more than one) and the Current PM is no exception. I had mentioned this in earlier blogs as well in an earlier blog. That the Prime Minister has turned out to be a great politician winning one electoral victory after the other is accompanied by what is a failure in Governance related to health, Security, Education, Municipal Management and of course Economics

The catchphrase Minimum Government, Maximum Governance sounded good but would have failed anyway.

India requires sustained, daily, repetitive ‘Maximum Administration and Maximum Governance’. The Prime Minister’s much repeated maxim is of no real use as Minimum Government and Minimum Governance is what we have lived with for years. The phrase ‘bhagwaan bharose’ is known to most Indians.

Look around you. Do feel the presence of the Government, Do you see public service utilities functioning, do you feel secure against lumpen elements, do you feel your grievances  are addressed in time, do you feel courts deliver justice quickly?

Do you feel help will come quickly if needed? Do you think you will get timely justice in courts?

If the answer to the above is No, then how will an absent Government be minimum and maximum at the same time?

We can of course trudge along like this as we have for the last 70 Years. But trudging along like this will not help much.

Prompt delivery of state services, public health, security and justice is not possible through a Minimum government in a diverse and a severely overpopulated country

Much of Minimum Governance is seen as keeping the inspector away.  There is excessive legislation, & rules and regulations which allow a small number of Government employees to exploit a vast population of powerless people. But the opposite of Inspector Raj is not abandonment Raj. A shortage of Courts and a lumbering Judicial Administration provide little succor to 1.30 Billion Indians at the receiving end of, socio economic disparity, bureaucratic apathy and a shortage of Public health services , education, prompt delivery of basic minimum civic amenities & security

Let us look at some figures

There is a shortage of 1400 IAS, & 900 IPS officers

There is a shortage of 5 Lakh Police Personnel

There is a shortage of 5 Lakh Doctors

2.8 Crore Cases are pending in District Courts even as a shortage of 5000 judicial officers

There is a collective shortage of 10 Lakh teachers in India

These are figures from the admissions made by the Government itself often in reply to questions in the parliament

The Number of MPs/MLAs & Municipal councillors as a percentage of the population is way less than what are required. For example U.K has one M.P to represent 93 Thousand people (in 2009) people while one M.P in India represents 20 Lakh people

These are all signs of Minimum Government & Minimum Governance. There is no maximum Government. It is a myth.

But the reason for this illusion is as follows; if you were to see 100 scattered people with sticks, and only 10 people with machine guns protected with battle gear and armored vehicles who would you notice more? The Government in India is not ‘Maximum’, but a small number of peons, clerks and officers protected by an Armed State have an overwhelming and unaccountable power over the people. And their transgressions are virtually un-punishable.

The Indian state is distant from the people, aloof and its officers maintain a barrier from coming into contact with society. This comes from a colonial tradition of the white sahib maintaining a distance from the natives. The State appears at the time of mass distress with doles and rescue operations or through state violence in times of mass upheavals.

The Indian State is not Hobbes’s Leviathan; it is an occasional bully and a careless protector

Which is why, we are faced with an utter crisis of governance.

Every Indian today seeks a reassurance from the Government on Security, equality before law, Justice Clean Environment, Health care and education. Yet the Government is trying to achieve all this through awareness programmes and appeal to the good sense of people. It just won’t work. There is no evidence for it.

India is diverse, with multitudes of poor people often separated by ethnicity, religion, caste, language, dialects and many more subdivisions which are not replicated in any other region of the world

A chaotic, emotional and often undisciplined people steeped in superstition and tradition is unlikely to self regulate themselves into a law abiding society. It simply will not happen.

We are a rapidly overpopulating nation. More than one Crore (10 Million) lives are added to the country through births alone. A meager Government cannot achieve Maximum Governance.

If indeed the Prime Minister wants to achieve Minimum Government, Maximum Governance, without increasing the size of the higher bureaucracy/ other Government employment, he will have to figure out

  1. How the Government will structure the role of non Government entities in such a manner that a decentralized model of urban local self governance can be created.
  2. How the Government’s General Financial Rules (GFRs) which are a compilation of rules and orders of Government of India to be observed by all Departments and Organisations under the Government and figure out how to involve Resident welfare Associations and other civil society Organisations in the urban governance.
  3. How to reduce direct taxation and promote municipal service providing through non Government entities.

Not everybody wants to participate regularly in the local Governance process. An overwhelming majority of people want to pay their taxes and go about their lives. A small minority, There about 100-150 active community members in any Municipal ward (60K Voters) who are keenly interested in participating in the affairs of their ward. The Government should consider tapping into this energy.


To understand this better, take a look at the New Urban Agenda formally adopted on 20th October 2016 at Quito in Ecuador



Guiding Principles




Leave no one behind, ensure urban equity and eradicate poverty


Providing equitable access for all, to physical and social infrastructure – Adequate housing and shelter at the center of the agenda – Public spaces as an enabler of socio-economic function of the city • Recognizing and leveraging culture, diversity and safety in cities • Enabling and strengthening participation and enhancing live ability and quality of life
Achieve sustainable and inclusive urban prosperity and opportunities for all


Enhancing agglomeration benefits of urbanization and avoiding land speculation, • Fair and equitable employment creation, productivity, competitiveness, diversification and • Innovation through a sustainable economic development
Foster ecological and resilient cities and human settlements


Driving sustainable patterns of consumption and production, • Protecting and valuing ecosystems and biodiversity, and • Adapting to and mitigating the impact of climate change while increasing urban systems resilience to physical, economic, and social shocks and stresses



At first glance, it would be apparent to the reader that the current Governance Mechanism cannot achieve even one of the aforementioned goals.


If at all the idea of Minimum Government and Maximum governance has to succeed the Government will have to re-design urban governance.

At this point the Government of India or State Governments are unwilling to change.  Though the 74th Constitutional amendment mandates it for Urban Governance and India is a part of UNCHS- Habitat 2000, and Now that India has been elected President of UN- Habitat, it is time for some quick moves towards ensuring Maximum governance. The Political System as well as the Bureaucracy has been impervious to change insofar as exercising adequate imagination to address the urban crisis. Time is short and the Political Class and the Bureaucracy will be left with declining options.


*The ideas on re- imagining urban communities for Good Governance will follow in another article


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URJA Editorial-यथा प्रजा, तथा राजा।

इस संस्करण में; आज की परिस्थिति में सार्वजनिक प्रशासन और स्थानीय राजनीती पर  सामाजिक व्यवहार का असर।

यह लेख हमारे समाज की एक बीमारी; विचारहीन तरफदारी, पर रौशनी डालेगा जो दिल्ली की बिगड़ी हुई शासन व्यवस्था का बहुत बड़ा कारण है.

बिना सोचे समझे, बुद्धि के प्रयोग के बिना कोई पक्ष ले लेना एक आदत सी  बन गयी है. सोशल मीडिया के आने से यह मनोवृत्ति और भी बढ़ती जा रही है. किसी भी मुद्दे को विचाराधीन करने से पहले ही बेबाक हो बयान दे देना या फिर पड़ोस में होने वाली हर अहम् बहस पर भाई-भतीजावाद करने लगना, नागरिकों के लिए अपने ही नुक्सान का कारण बनता जा रहा है. दुःख की बात तो यह भी है की हम इस बात पर ध्यान ही  नहीं दे रहे हैं की किस कदर यह सामाजिक परिस्थिति हमारा बेडा ग़र्क़ कर रही है

जब भी कूड़ा करकट, वायु प्रदूषण, गन्दगी, टूटी सड़क, जाम हुई नालियां या फिर सार्वजनिक भूमि पर अवैध अतिक्रमण की बात सामने आती है तो उसके पीछे बहुत हद तक इस प्रवृति का हाथ होता है

गौर फरमाइए, आपके इलाके में अगर नाली बंद हो जाये तो क्या सब निवासी एक ही आवाज़ में बोलेंगे? या फिर अगर सड़क टूटी हो तो क्या सब एक साथ होकर अपने पार्षद, विधायक और संसद के पास शिकायत ले कर जायेंगे ? हरगिज़ नहीं। साधारण से साधारण नागरिक भी, बिला वजह पार्टीवाद का हिस्सा बन जायेगा. अगर ऐसा नहीं होता तो आपके इलाके की सड़कें, नालिया, और ढलाव साफ़ होते , और सरकारी ज़मीन पर अवैध कब्ज़ा होते ही रोक दिया जाता।

हम अक्सर अपनी विफ़लता को राजनीती बोल, नेता के सर पर मढ़ देते हैं लेकिन ध्यान दीजिये, ये बीमारी तो हमने खुद पाली है , नेता का क्या दोष?

एक उद्धरण के माध्यम से इस मुसीबत पर प्रकाश डालता हूँ

अभी कुछ ही समय पहले दिल्ली के एक क्षेत्र में शराब की दुकान को लेकर कुछ ऐसा ही  हुआ. शुरुआत में ऐसा प्रस्ताव की शराब की दूकान रिहाइशी इलाके में खुलेगी, को लेकर वहां के लोगों ने विरोध करना शुरू किया. लोग सड़क पर उतर आये और जम  कर रोष प्रकट करते हुए बोले की वह अपने पड़ोस में शराब का ठेका नहीं खुलने देंगे

फिर क्या था, क्षेत्र के विपक्ष के नेता और निर्वाचित प्रतिनिधि भी मैदान  में उतर आये. बस यहां से खेल खराब होना शुरू हुआ और समाज की कमज़ोरी बाहर आ गयी. जहां नेताओं ने क्षेत्र के निवासियों पर एक छोड़ दूसरी या तीसरी पार्टी के मेंबर या अनुगामी होने का इलज़ाम लगाना शुरू किया , वहीँ लोगों में  ‘तरफदारी की बीमारी’ उत्पन्न हो गयी. कुछ लोग दुबक गए, कुछ अलग -अलग नेताओं के सामने बोलने में आनाकानी करने लगे, और कुछ चुप-चाप समझाने में लग गए की शराब की दूकान पास ही में हो, तो क्या बुरा है? विरोध अलग थलग हो गया.

सच तो यह है की वोट आप किसे भी दें, शराब आपके परिवार और बच्चों पर विपरीत असर डालेगी । शराब शरीर में घुस कर तरफदारी तो नहीं करेगी की फलां पार्टी के वोटर को कम चढ़ेगी और फलां पार्टी के वोटर को ज़्यादा। या फिर दुकानदार आपके बच्चे से ये तो नहीं पूंछेगा के ‘बेटा तुम्हारे पिता ने किसको वोट दिया क्योंकि उसके हिसाब से में तुम्हें शराब बेचूंगा या फिर नहीं बेचूंगा।’ जब शराब तरफदारी नहीं करेगी और शराब बेचने वाला नहीं करेगा तो लोग क्यों करने लग गए? क्यों इधर उधर भटक कर एक या फिर दूसरी साइड लेने लगे

ऐसा ही कुछ ट्रैफिक प्लानिंग में दक्षिण दिल्ली की एक अति धनवान कॉलोनी में भी हुआ. अब सब लोग ट्रैफिक में उलझे हैं लेकिन बिना सोचे समझे, ज़िद में, बिना दिमाग लगाए, राजनितिक साइड लेते हुए घर फूँक तमाशा देख रहे हैं

URJA में हम अक्सर देखते हैं की पुब्लिक और RWA अकसर इस तरह साइड लेने लगते हैं की टूटी सड़क, कूड़ा इत्यादि पर किसी भी तरह का कड़ा रुख अपनाया ही नहीं जा सकता। अफसर भी कुछ यूं सोचते हैं “की लड़ने दो इन लोगों को! और हम फ़ालतू में क्यों चक्कर में पड़ें?”

दिल्ली की बैड गवर्नेंस का यही एक बहुत बड़ा कारण है.

समझदारी तो इसमें है की कुछ ऐसे मुद्दे हैं, जैसे टूटी सड़कें, बर्बाद फुटपाथ, कूड़े के ढेर, सरकारी ज़मीन पर कब्ज़ा, सिक्योरिटी, बह निकलते हुए हुए सीवर, जिस पर हम, चाहे किसी भी पक्ष को वोट देते हों, उस के नेता से साफ़ साफ़ कह दें, की भाई यह नहीं चलेगा। हम किसी भी पार्टी से सरोकार रखते हों लेकिन दो टूक शब्दों में साफ़ साफ़ नेता से कह देना चाहिए कि ‘वोट की बात रही एक तरफ, लेकिन टूटी सड़क, गन्दगी, मच्छर काटने से बीमारी बर्दाश्त नहीं की जाएगी।

जनता से अनुरोध है की, समझदारी इसी में है की बिना सोचे समझे, बिना बुद्धि का प्रयोग करे, तरफदारी बंद कीजिये

आपके इलाके में वैसा शासन है, जैसा आप में से अधिकतम लोग चाहते हैं. जैसी करनी वैसी भरनी; हमारे पूर्वज व्यर्थ ही नहीं कह रहे थे।

आशुतोष दीक्षित



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URJA Editorial-Some Governance Basics

Every time the matter of garbage and bad governance comes up in our meetings, there is often the common comment that the

  • ‘Citizens are to blame also’ or that
  • ‘We have no ‘civic sense’,
  • ‘We must not ask of the Government but must also do it ourselves’

On the face of it statements such as these sound reasonable and create a sense of temporary guilt and shame in the mind of the citizen and taxpayer. This type of discussion in public meetings usually ends the discussion with people simply feeling helpless as if they are no good.

Over the years this thinking has been reinforced by the State Administration and the officers as it suits them to shift the moral blame on residents for their own administrative incompetence and corruption.

Recently in a posh area of south Delhi, no less than the Commissioner of SDMC, an I.A. S officer, made a ‘surprise visit’. A day before this ‘Surprise’ visit many encroachments were temporarily removed. During the course of his visit the Commissioner noted, that residents had thrown kabaad in their back lanes and covered their drains leaving them difficult to clean. The Commissioner pointed out that residents were responsible for the problem and should introspect, & the suitably embarrassed the RWA wrote a note chastising the members that they must themselves ‘introspect’ on this

The situation remains the same. The encroachments are back, the back lanes remain dirty

On similar complaints, the Municipal councillor landed up with a whole team, touting ‘swachh bharatabhiyan as motivator, joined by party colleagues and cleaning staff. The whole lot including the Councillor started sweeping.  Many Residents were all excited and started clapping. This was a major photo opportunity; the photo etc. was shared in whatsapp groups. At the end of all this tomfoolery, things remain the same

This is an example of how misled we are and how much it suits the officers and the politicians to perpetuate this thinking. It also shows that a combination of ignorance and laziness can keep even educated residents trapped in the same place.

This is important to understand, that ordinarily most people are law abiding but as a corrupt and lazy administration allows a few people to get away, more and more people take to breaking the law.

Please do not believe that residents in other countries are better human beings, but please believe that other countries punish law breakers and there Civic responsibility becomes reward able

Let us have a look by way of a table of what is happening and how we are misled into believing that are bad citizens, when in reality our officers a lazy and inefficient.

The distinction marked below can be applied to almost all areas of public administration


Wrong Way- Delhi will remain a Filthy city Right Way- Delhi will be a world Class city
SDMC Commissioner lecturing that Drains should not be covered The Commissioner ordering  immediate demolition/or penalties as per law and ordered an inquiry upon his officers for letting this happen
This not lack of Civic Sense This is illegal
SDMC Commissioner lecturing  that Kabaad should not be thrown in the back lanes

This not about lack of Civic Sense


The Commissioner ordering fines and penalizing the builders as well as residents for violating the law and relevant provisions of the DMC  act

This is about punishment for illegal activity

The Municipal councillor, no matter how excitable and sycophantic he is, is not meant to begin municipal work himself


The job of the councillor is to take civic problems to the corporation and get the Departments to act. He is not a Govt officer (even if he likes to think so) and does not have to perform Municipal roles designated for Municipal officers or staff
Councillor Sweeping back lanes are an aberration & example of very bad Governance should not be applauded by the public and there is nothing good about this activity to be shared on whatsapp. This public behaviour is harming the public


Public should have criticized him for failing to get the Government to work and not take the Voter for a ride by doing childish stunts. The public should have demanded that he ensure MCD action. This behaviour helps the public
This pattern of behaviour will result in remaining in garbage and filth, broken roads and encroachment. This is how our ‘Administration’ and misguided residents behaves and we remain a backward city


This is how Administration in USA, UK, France Tokyo, and Hong Kong would have behaved and that is why they are advanced Cities. This is how their officers behave and their residents demand for being taxpayers.
Officers will be paid for sitting in office and making money out of corruption &Indian taxpayer will be fooled continuously & will be blamed for not having civic sense. This wrong attitude shown above will ensure that Delhi will be a filthy city Delhi will be a clean city, The Tax payer would be rewarded and provided with services, the officers will have to work for their salary, & corruption will come down. Delhi will be a world class city


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Centrists must demand an amendment in the constitution

In the life of a nation, an idea must only be tested over a finite period of time; if the stated objectives are not met within this fixed time frame, then the idea must be modified and put to test again.

Strategic thinking requires making the necessary changes in our laws, in accordance with the needs of a changing society. That is the intelligent way to growth. Slavish adherence to one view, no matter how authoritative the source, is no different from religious mania.

In the year 1934, when our country was in the throes of the fight for independence, and our leaders strived towards making a new India, the idea of a constituent assemble for undivided India was proposed by the great humanist M.N Roy. Soon it became an official demand of the Indian National Congress and was accepted by the British on 8th august 1940.

Since independence, and the meeting of the constituent assembly of a divided India on 14th August 1947, several laws have been introduced time and again by the Indian parliament, and on several occasions the Judiciary has intervened to put an end to discriminatory laws. Similarly in laws relating to divorce and succession, the laws of the Hindus have been changed (and rightly so) as well as accepted by progressive sections of this society.

The Christian marriage act too was amended by the parliament in keeping with changing times and to end discriminatory practices, but when it comes to the sharia laws, any attempt to introduce a uniform civil code is perceived by the Muslim community as imposed majoritarianism.

The most politically significant Minority in India are the Muslims. Minorities like the Sikh and Christians are less in number & of lesser electoral significance to ideological factions that can exploit them and therefore: when it comes to Islam, the situation becomes completely different in such a manner, that in terms of a ‘minority’ the status of Muslims assumes a different significance altogether.

India has the 2nd largest Muslim population in the world (about 200 Million) which is a number sufficiently large to not be a minority in any real sense. With the visible and weaponised rise of Global political Islam, the social strife and conflict in European societies from massive Muslim migration, and in India, Jihadi politics and cross border association with terrorism in Kashmir, it is naïve to assume that the common man will buy into the complex arguments that are required to keep such ‘secular’ policies in place.

But what makes Muslims unable to keep pace with contemporary social change in India, despite being an inseparable part of the country’s history as well as being deeply embedded in some way in all things Indian?

In my view it is the Indian Constitution.

With the 42nd amendment of the constitution in 1976, the word “Secular”, too was added to the preamble of The Indian constitution. Let us now look at our modes of secularism.

This unusual, model of secularism, demands regressive social practices of the majority Hindus to be dismantled but protects and promotes regressive social practices of the minorities. It is a strange model arrived through negotiations between secular ‘Hindu’ thinkers and ‘Minority’ thinkers in the constituent assembly.

It is a model where Hindu temples can be controlled by the Government and their proceeds used for Secular purposes while minority institutions have no such obligations. It is a model of Secularism where religious institutions, schools and colleges run by the Minority community have privileges which are denied to the Majority religious community.

This concept of special privileges induces several other communities into asking for a minority status, the Jains being the last granted and Lingayats now demanding.

Rationally, a democracy cannot be conducted on the whims of a majority but logically it cannot also be conducted through ignoring the feelings of a majority. Equally it should not be conducted on the whims of a minority.

There may have been sound reasons, psychological, personal & political then, for the representatives in the constituent assembly, to have taken the positions they did and many of those decisions would have been prompted by the politics of those times.

The founding fathers of India, decided upon a model of secularism that was hitherto unknown to any great secular democracy of the world. I do not know of other great founding fathers that practiced loquacity, intellectual grandeur and pomposity with such ferocity.

Except in India, everywhere secularism (in secular countries), has meant equal rights and that personal laws, wherever they conflict with individual civil rights, be in line with the Country’s civil law.

Even though article 44 says, ‘The state shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.’ In practice the other articles in the constitution make this a hollow proposition.

The recent Judgment of the Supreme Court on the matter of Instant triple Talaq only goes to show that in 2017 – 70 years after independence, in the largest Democracy of the world, the ancient right given to a man to unilaterally divorce his wife still remains. Instant Triple Talaq has been declared unconstitutional (by a margin of 3-2) but the unilateral right of a man to divorce his wife at will over a period of 3 months remains as a legally acceptable way of divorce.

The Indian Constitutional provisions that make it well nigh impossible for the parliament or the Judiciary to alter laws that were crafted for the Arab Society hundreds maybe a thousand years ago.

Dr. Ambedkar had pointed to this problem of capitulating in the face of Islamic pressure. His exact words to the constituent assembly were: “I personally do not understand why religion should be given this vast, expansive jurisdiction so as to cover the whole of life and to prevent the legislature from encroaching upon that field. After all, what are we having this liberty for?”

We are having this liberty in order to reform our social system, which is so full of inequities, so full of inequalities, discriminations and other things, which conflict with our fundamental rights.”

But the pressure was high from the Muslim members in the Constituent Assembly. Addressing the constituent assembly Maulana Hasrat Mohani had said: “I would like to say that any party, political or communal, has no right to interfere in the personal law of any group. More particularly I say this regarding Muslims. There are three fundamentals in their personal law, namely, religion, language, and culture which have not been ordained by human agency. Their personal law regarding divorce, marriage and inheritance has been derived from the Quran and its interpretation is recorded therein. If there is any one, who thinks that he can interfere in the personal law of the Muslims, then I would say to him that the result will be very harmful. Musalmans will never submit to any interference in their personal law and they will have to face an iron wall of Muslim determination to oppose them in every way.”

Dr. Ambedkar had in the same assembly, expressed his views thus:  “Coming to the question of saving personal law . . . if such a saving clause was introduced into the Constitution, it would disable the legislatures in India from enacting any social measure whatsoever. The religious conceptions in this country are so vast that they cover every aspect of life, from birth to death. There is nothing which is not religion and if personal law is to be saved, I am sure about it that in social matters we will come to a standstill. I do not think it is possible to accept a position of that sort.”

On the one hand it can be said that its nobody’s business what the minorities do with their personal laws, but when a very large population of a country remains steeped in archaic laws it affects the entire country, and the Left liberal aristocracy along with some political parties prefer to keep the Muslims backward – as an army – that they can use to apply political pressure for their own advancement.

The intelligentsia should have been in the forefront of an honest debate –  take for example the charge that that UCC will necessarily be a Majoritarian imposition – this is not only flawed but deliberately misleading – but the overweening, faux liberal intelligentsia along with Marxists has created a version of thinking, seemingly rational & high minded thought that even those who see through its corruption and politics are tricked into unwittingly examining everything through a prism that will eventually lead them to believe that the left liberal narrative alone is righteous, fair, secular & equitable and the rest is fascist, communal and regressive. This is because of the all pervasive leftist siege on institutions.

Let’s talk of some Hindu laws – the law relating to divorce in Hindus for instance – is not a Hindu concept. There was no concept of divorce in Hinduism. It is a civil law import into the Hindu marriage act which has been accepted as it should have been. Similarly Hindu laws related to succession were found discriminatory and struck down by courts. This too has found acceptance, and rightly so. That this has changed everything socially on the ground and in Hindu communities is certainly not the case. But the law does allow the aggrieved to have their rights restored. More needs to be done and the provisions in the Constitution allow the parliament and the Courts to do that.

All this talk of change in personal laws of Muslims as ‘majoritarianism,’ holds no water.

In Islam, Talaq is practiced as a unilateral right that is only a man’s. Any argument to the contrary, quoting the provisions of ‘Khula,’ is certainly disputable. In Khula (release) a woman does not have any unilateral right. The wife can seek dissolution, after seeking permission from her husband, which he can refuse. Khula also requires her to return the Mahr as well.

Khula being touted by left liberals as quid pro quo and equal empowerment for women in Muslim Personal law is misleading the public at large and is a disservice to Muslim women in particular.

The constitution of India cannot become secular by the mere insertion of that word in its preamble.

This is an issue of humanity and fairness that is being blocked because of the mistakes made 70 years back by the constituent assembly. It is a Constitutional Anomaly that must be righted.

In 1931, 90% of India was illiterate. It has today a high youth literacy rate. The population is chiefly under the age of 35, Votes in high percentages, and has access to information. It won’t buy into what appears shady to it.

Because of political exigencies, and the slothful nature of our systems, it is a difficult model to change fast enough, but change it must, to achieve equity; social and economic growth & liberty for at least those Muslim men & women who choose to live a secular life and for India to be free from this model that creates a false sense of entitlement and simmering resentment at the same time for both Hindus and Muslims.

Centrists must take this opportunity to wrest the motivated narratives of the extreme fringe of the right as well left and be truly liberal. The historic mistakes made regarding the positioning of Indian Secularism must be changed and the constitution amended suitably.



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