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Impotent Mayors are the Reason for the Pathetic state of Indian Cities

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India’s cities are not an easy place to live with large areas facing difficulties in accessing basic amenities such as water, electricity, good roads etc. Indian cities are democratic only in name, as most of the powers rest with the government appointed bureaucrats. Most of the power is held by the municipal commissioners who are IAS offices, while mayors and co-operators remain impotent. This means that decision making is mostly centralized with little in the way of inputs from city dwellers. The elected representatives have very little financial power. The state governments exercise most of the power and if a city Municipal Corporation is ruled by the opposition party, then that city faces a very bad time.

I was surprised to read that all the major pre-independence leaders in India such as Nehra, Patel etc. started out as mayors of cities. They became national leaders with their experience in handling and managing cities helping them in leading the country. Decisions made by the government bureaucrats are not always in sync with the requirements of the city dwellers. India’s long standing policy of putting village development over cities has also badly affected the development of cities. Even now, cities generate most of the tax revenue but get little of it. This has led to a call to make Mumbai an independent state from Maharashtra. The city generates billions of dollars in tax revenue, but millions of people live in slums. The city gets badly flooded during monsoons and a corrupt builder lobby has kept real estate prices artificially high. Unplanned and unregulated growth has resulted in an urban nightmare for most residents (those who do not live in posh areas such as South Mumbai or Lutyen’s Delhi).  There is very little foresight and intelligence amongst city planners with real estate companies/contractors changing laws/regulations to suit their own needs rather than that of the city.

However, things seem to be changing slightly as India becomes more urbanized and citizens clamor for better facilities. The success of the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) is based on a lot of the above given reasons. The company has put forward its manifesto which would provide cheaper electricity, better facilities and an honest administration. The only thing we can hope is that AAP succeeds and forces in bringing better city administration for more than 300 million city dwellers in India.


Sneha Shah

I am Sneha, the Editor-in-chief for the Blog. We would be glad to receive suggestions, inputs & comments on GWI from you guys to keep it going! You can contact me for consultancy/trade inquires by writing an email to

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