Urban governance index spotlights gaps in grassroots democracy
SMART CITIES

Urban governance index spotlights gaps in grassroots democracy

A new Urban Governance Index (UGI) 2020, released this week, throws some surprises. Odisha tops the overall governance chart, with Maharashtra on its heels. Chhattisgarh, Kerala, and Madhya Pradesh, in that order, follow.

States were ranked on 42 indicators in four themes, divided into 13 sub-themes across 29 cities across 28 states and Delhi NCR. The themes focus primarily on the structural aspects of urban governance.

Here are the key highlights from the Urban Governance Index:

  • Odisha ranked first in the Urban Governance Index with the score of 56.86, and also stood first in the “Empowered Citizens” category.
  • Maharashtra ranked second with a score of 55.15, Chhattisgarh ranked third with 49.68, Kerala ranked fourth with 48.77 and Madhya Pradesh ranked fifth with 45.94.
  • Kerala was found to have the most empowered city elected representatives and legislative structure.
  • Tamil Nadu has the most empowered city administration amongst the states.
  • Maharashtra and Kerala ranked first in fiscal empowerment.
  • Nagaland and Manipur were at the bottom of the overall table. Arunachal Pradesh, Meghalaya, and Jharkhand fared only marginally better.
  • No state has devolved all 18 functions mentioned in the Twelfth Schedule of Constitution of India to the city governments.
  • 9 out of the 24 cities do not have any elected representatives from the City Governments as members of the Smart City SPV board.
    The Urban Governance Reforms Study was conducted across 40 cities across 28 states and the National Capital Territory (NCT) of Delhi over a period of three years (2017-2020). The study involved a total of 1,568 interviews held with key stakeholders such as the city elected representatives (ERs), city administrators and city-based Central Statistics Offices (CSOs).


The Urban Governance Index (UGI), conducted by Mumbai-based Praja Foundation, has ranked states on real empowerment of local self-government and grassroots democracy. The idea is to understand the level of decentralisation of urban governance.

At a webinar to release this report, Praja Foundation’s Founder and Managing Trustee Nitai Mehta expressed concern at governance impediments to growth, and said that it is important to develop “grassroots democracy in cities through democratic empowerment and accountability of city governments and through citizen engagement.”

Low-score ranks

Mehta said, ‘’The 74th Constitution Amendment Act, 1992, mandated constitution of city governments and devolution of 18 functions mentioned in the Twelfth Schedule of the Constitution of India to the city governments. However, more than 25 years have passed and there is no mapping of the devolution and urban governance reforms across the country.” Mehta added that those gaps triggered the governance rankings.

The gaps are visible in the rankings. The Foundation’s Director Milind Mhaske pointed out that while the ranking in the Index is a relative ranking, it is pertinent that none of the states have scored more than 57%. Amongst the 42 indicators, most of the states have achieved the lowest scores across indicators. This indicates, as Mhaske reiterated, that there is a need for urban governance reforms and empowerment of city governments across India.

The index will help in mapping and monitoring the implementations of the urban governance reforms which looks at Democratic Empowerment and Accountability in urban governance across states in the country.

Read full report HERE

Image courtesy: Peter H

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