A survey of 15 Indian cities held by a group of academics from the U.S. has found that Kochi has very high levels of service delivery and associational life.
“Kochi, one of our case studies, does well. But there are still gaps in the quality-of-service delivery, particularly sanitation,” said Patrick Heller, Professor of Sociology, International Studies and Public Affairs, Watson Institute, Brown University, U.S.
The professor revealed details of the survey led by him during his talks at the “Decentralisation and Local Governance” sub-session of the “Kerala Looks Ahead” (KLA), a global virtual conference and consultation organised by the State Planning Board.
“Another finding that is striking is that overall associational life in Indian cities is robust. The cities that do best are those where the local councillors are powerful and active and we see this in Kochi in particular,” said Prof. Heller, author of “The Labor of Development: Workers in the Transformation of Capitalism in Kerala”.
However, rapidly emerging cities in Kerala need to be “states within states” by granting them tremendous autonomy, more legislative powers and making them engage in more long-term strategic planning.
Prof. Heller has published articles on urbanisation, comparative democracy, social movements, development policy, civil society and state transformation. His most recent project, Cities of Delhi, conducted in collaboration with the Centre for Policy Research, explores the dynamics of governance and social exclusion in India’s capital.
“One of the richest and most fascinating real-world experiments in decentralising democracy anywhere in the world was in Kerala under the Chief Ministership of EMS Namboodiripad,” he noted.