“Indian cities should remain ‘national’ in character”

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Mumbai: According to Vice President Hamid Ansari, Indian urban centres should remain national in their character and not succumb to narrow or sectarian monopolies.

“Urbanisation cannot be prevented, it is in our interest that we manage it better and direct it to serve our national goals and public interest,” he said, delivering the Yusuf Meherally Memorial Lecture at the University of Mumbai.

Making a strong case for empowering city mayors, Ansari cited examples of New York and London, and called for radical elevation of role and prestige of managers of large urban agglomerations.

“Megacities like London and New York have empowered Mayors who set the agenda for the development of the city and promote the economic progress and social development prospects in the city. Contrary to this, our metropolitan city managers do not enjoy appropriate political prestige or economic clout,” he said.

Underlining the need for promoting inclusive growth, the Vice President said that exclusionary urbanisation tends to become a case of ‘elite capture’.

“Our urban spaces and governance mechanisms have become the theatres for political conflicts and economic struggles. Our urban spaces have also been used for promoting reforms as well as for contesting such reform measures,” he said.