THE advice of Prime Minister Mr. Narendra Modi to the Mayors of urban local self-government bodies under the control of Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) about good governance is good enough for all the heads of such institutions across political dividing lines. Mr. Modi has said clearly that the civic bodies should focus on genuine development and not just on election-centric projects. In these simple words, he has, thus, underlined the core issue of urban governance. In other words, the Prime Minister has suggested that whatever developmental work the civic body undertakes should be of a lasting value whose utility should be well beyond seeking votes from the people during elections.
The importance of the Prime Minister’s advice in the current chaos in civic management across the country cannot be underestimated. The chaos is there because the political elements that control the civic bodies undertake only those projects that help them win elections. Naturally, once the elections are over and the political purpose is served, there is nobody to take care about the continuance of the projects in a proper manner. that is the reason why countless projects keep falling on bad days once the elections are over and the results are out. The Prime Minister has proposed to bring to end this routine experience of civic management. He wishes to perpetuate the benefits of growth and development beyond elections. If the Mayors belonging to all parties understand the importance of the Prime Minister’s message and start acting upon the advice, then in just a few years, India will be able to boast of truly excellent urban management replacing the usually inefficient handling of civic affairs. For, when the elections are not the central subject of urban management, then whatever is to be done will be done with people in central focus. In that case, in a few years, Indian cities will start looking clean and posh. It has been India’s misfortune that the most urban local selfgovernment bodies have been concentrating on projects that bring electoral victory.
Most political parties have perfected the art of winning popular support in elections by promising moon to the common people. Innocently and even naively, the common people believe in those promises and cast their votes in favour of politicians who make those promises. But Mr. Narendra Modi appears keen on changing this culture of enticing people with the help of only temporary projects to fetch adequate numbers of votes. He wants at least the BJP Mayors to rise above that unfortunate practice and provide to the urban population a truly good governance. Even the Prime Minister’s most hostile detractors would not be able to find holes in the argument in favour of non-poll-centric urban management and development.
They will realise the strength in his assertion of a new approach. For, when elections are not the aim, developmentalism will acquire an enduring value. Having seen the ill-effects of short-sighted urban growth and development, Mr. Narendra Modi has now thought of giving certain perpetuacy to civic management projects. Such an approach will also alter the average Indian thinking on how the cities -- in particular -- to be managed. Most Indian cities give an impression that their civic leaders and managers are in sort of a hurry to get things done somehow without bothering about the long-term effects their actions will have. That is the reasons roads, for example, are planned in a hurry and built in haste. The disastrous outcome of this approach in seen in almost all cities across the whole urban Indian landscape. If followed to the hilt, the Prime Minister’s approach will help change the urban management scenario. With cities bursting at seams with teeming population, they need to be managed with much thought and care. Projects will have to be carefully visualised, planned and implemented so that the people get their benefits on a lasting basis -- well beyond the electoral goals. The civic leaders will have to assess the future needs very carefully so that projects could be planned and implemented with care, concern and caution. This approach should not be kept restricted only to the BJP-controlled cities, but also should be expanded to each and every urban centre in the country.