Roger Federer Legend Player

Yesterday, saw the entire final of Wimbledon between Roger Federer and Cilic from Croatia. Before match began, expert commentator Boris Becker guessed it will be a five set match, some one commented it to be a four set game. Federer proved all of them wrong. Straight three set win. He won this Wimbledon grand slam title for the eighth time, a world record set by him single handedly. Why I am writing this blog after a long time, simply because it was amazing to watch a gentleman at the age of 35 years playing against a 23 year young player and winning by straight sets. It is the best example and inspiration of fitness and the discipline that one can maintain in life. As I could guess, he is a father of 3 kids, one daughter and two sons.

 

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Challenge to cities of India

Urbanisation is a challenge to all of us. India poised 31.1 % urbanisation in census 2011, which was 27.8 in previous decade (2001). The total population reported is around 120 crore, that makes 1.2 billion out of around 7.5 million world population. Ignoring percentage figure the absolute figures of urban India is alarming. There has been over concentration of migration from rural to urban areas and it is increasing. Whether this rate of urbanisation is beneficial or not is a matter of debate and research for urban planners, managers, policy makers and researchers. What is overwhelming is that there is a huge challenge to big cities to maintain and provide a good quality of life to its citizens.

Last three days, Times of India, the leading news paper is reporting about cities and urbanisation. First by the government of India in relation to Smart Cities and minister of urban development talking of City liveability index, Second by an architect of Delhi expressing concern of cities with good spaces and good life going to be converted to slum like situation and third today, Supreme court of India directing cities to make effective ways to manage solids waste generated by the cities. It seems clear that there are challenges in cities and effective steps are needed to meet these challenges, if we are concerned to provide good quality of life to our city people.

There are some out of box suggestions that comes to our mind without support from the statistical data. A question that always remains tricky, whether India should or should not promote urbanisation. There are theories and researches which are affirmative and negative both. But all these were when, there was a beginning of urbanisation in the world, first of its being the Industrial revolution in England. The European and American cities has more than 80% of urbanisation, yet these countries provide a good quality of life. Here human development index generated through UNDP is being taken as a benchmark value to compare quality of life. Comparing these countries, Indian cities are less urbanised, but if the absolute figures are taken, then scenario is different. The Western countries has very less population compared to the South Asian countries like China, Pakistan and India. The question is whether can we adopt the same model. Answer is not in certain terms as there are doubts in our country like India. Whether there is an answer or not is also not known.

The major cities of India are Mumbai, Delhi, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Ahmedabad, Surat, Puna, etc. The characteristic of urbanisation in India is that, the people migrate more towards these big cities rather than a village or an hamlet or a small town developing into bigger place. There is an over concentration of population in few cities of India. The common implication of these are: huge slums, absence of public transport system and therefore traffic congestion by private ownership vehicles, solid wastes everywhere making the city aesthetics bad. These are what obvious visible for any individual. Apart from these unhygienic conditions, less water for drinking purpose, water logging during monsoon, inefficient social infrastructure like schools and hospitals, etc.

People migrate to cities for the want of opportunities. These include income, education and better health facilities. On the other hand because of migration and increase in demand city authorities struggle to provide better infrastructure. People start living in slums, unauthorised construction, traffic congestions, health epidemic, etc are all the manifestation of this process. Yet people migrate to get more incentives. The question arise for what is the solution? Whether we should allow the continuous process of urbanisation and keep on improving the city living condition, or stop migration by improving rural areas with more opportunities so that they don’t migrate. There is no immediate or direct answer to this problem. One has to keep in mind that cities contribute around 65% of national GDP as reported in planning commission and other reports.

There are concrete efforts in last one and half decade, to improve the city living conditions by pro active efforts from the Central as well as State governments, like Urban renewal mission, Smart cities, State government housing scheme, etc. These schemes has also brought changes in city infrastructure both in physical and social. Yet there is a demand for more from the cities, local self governments for provisioning of social and physical infrastructures. Two days back, the government of India announced a scheme of measuring city liveability index, which is a good step, so that policy makers can make out where attention is required and identification of best practices from better performing cities. There will be a competition for city managers to improve their ranking and that will benefit the citizen of that city. It remains to be seen what parameters and methodology will be adopted to do this exercise.

In the end, the question still remains un answered, whether we can afford with this rate of urbanisation in India and shall make policy for more or concentrate towards rural areas by creating more self sustaining villages and lessening urbanisation.

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City liveability Index for India

Read today Times of India, delighted to know that Government of India, Ministry of Urban Development has launched ‘City liveability Index’, which will help a city to know where it stands in ensuring the quality of life to its citizens, as said by honourable Minister of Urban Development, Mr Venkaiah Naidu in a conference of Smart Cities at Delhi yesterday. Its my satisfaction that I am doing a research on the same topic for PhD from SVNIT, Surat. In a very limited way I could spread this exercise to a limited circle. But today Government of India has launched it officially and it will be very useful to the city dwellers and the city managers in achieving good quality of life.

My thesis is focussed on to how to evolve a methodology to find out quality of life of each city with common parameters, like it is being done for calculating Human Development Index by UNDP. The method shall be simple and also the data shall be easily available and acceptable. Little different from the HDI, the city liveability index shall have different parameters for consideration like physical infrastructure, governance and environment apart from economy, health and education. By giving proper weights and importance the co efficient of these parameters can be calculated and city liveability index can be found out. The index may vary from zero to one or any other suitable scale. However this will benchmark the cities and will push competition for better achievement by the city managers to perform more for better ranking. Ultimately this will enhance quality of life.

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QUALITY OF LIFE IN CITIES

QUALITY OF LIFE OF A CITY

The world population keeps on Urbanizing. People from villages migrate to cities for better opportunities of income, education, housing, etc., with an expectation that the city will give a better quality of life. Many succeed and more than many don’t; which results into sub-standard living and slums. The process technically is called Urbanization. India was about 27 to 28 % urbanized in 2001 census, which has increased to 36 to 37 % in 2011. This means that every one out of three Indians is now living in urban areas. More than 60% of the nations economy in terms of GDP is generated from urban areas. The rate of urbanization in India is still less than developed European countries, however in absolute terms the figure of urban population in India is phenomenal. Presently the population of India is about 1.25 billion out of about 7.25 billion world population. Means one out of seven people in the world is an Indian and therefore one out of twenty one people of the world are ‘Indian Urban’.

Our cities especially mega urban centers are characterized by chaotic traffic problems, pollution, insufficient drinking water, substandard and unaffordable housing. The city residents struggle to make a living for the hope of better education for their children, good environment, more income and dream of better future. It is this city resident who is a very important element to the nation’s economy as he is contributing to the nation’s production in terms of goods and services. That is why the cities are very important as drivers of nation economy and also epicenter of economic activity. The cost of not paying attention to cities will be dangerous. It becomes essential for the society and all the stakeholders to provide a better quality of life to the resident of the cities.

The purpose therefore is how to improve the quality of life in cities. In order to improve, the first objective is, to know the level of quality of life of a particular city in a specific quantified term. Subjective statements are often made through interviews, isolated studies of few important cities and similar other isolated discourses. Very good city, bad environment, most livable city, are statements often published, which do not suffice to quantify the level of quality of life, a general person enjoying in a city. United nation for human development do such exercise at the international level by assigning Human Development Index (HDI) to different nations. This HDI value is from zero to one and more the value better is the human development or better said quality of life. The human development reports are prepared for the states of India by the state/national planning commission and various socio-economic indicators are generated. However there is a requirement of benchmarking of cities of our country with respect to each other. At present there is a lack of a uniform measure to find out the level of quality of life of a particular city. A single composite aggregate index arrived after assessing commonly accepted indicators can indicate the level of quality of life, a city is enjoying. Many academicians and researchers have attempted to find out the quality of life of urban areas, but somehow there is still requirement of a good uniform common platform for comparing and rating the cities.
The dimensions that need to be considered for quantifying cities can be a) The social environment that it delivers: This may include the level of literacy, the health standards, enrollment into the educational institution, community development, social cohesiveness, etc. b) The economic condition of the city: This implies the GDP contribution and its growth rate of the particular city, the employment opportunity, per capita income, etc. c) The physical infrastructure status of the city: This may include the water supply scenario, the drainage condition, the traffic and transportation scenario, electricity coverage, roads condition, etc. d) The environment a city enjoying: This means the pollution level of the air and water, the open and recreational facilities in the city, the water bodies and its conservation, etc. e) The institutional strength of the city: This essentially means how effective governance of the institutions placed in the city is. How well the grievances of the citizen are addressed, how well the civic agencies function during the condition of a disaster or emergency.

The issues mentioned are not an end, but starting point to think about how to address the various issues of the people living in today’s city. Requirement is to start and develop a suitable methodology to find out the quality of life in a very simplistic fashion. The data for such an exercise shall be easily available so that all the city governments can easily adopt such a methodology and find out the current status of their city. However the final figure shall be a very simple and unique number, which may range from zero to one, with an understanding that higher the value near to one means better quality of life for that city. Such a composite aggregate number or index can generate interest among the city government policy makers and researchers to upgrade and improve the services it provides as. It will also highlight which areas are strong and areas that is required to be improved. Criticism and suggestions will improve the methodology of finding out a composite aggregate index for the cities. All these efforts will ultimately lead to provide a better quality of life in the city to our residents.

… By Debasish Basak (Author is an Urban Planner and doing research in Urban Development)

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