Millennium Post

Heading into the abyss?

Most people who love Delhi might have felt a tad uncomfortable while going through the latest surveys on which are the happiest and most liveable cities in India. These aforementioned surveys appeared last week. Not surprisingly, Delhi’s abysmal ranking in these surveys has disappointed a large number of its residents. Under the first survey/study conducted by an autonomous agency under the Union Urban Development Ministry- the National Institute of Urban Affairs; Delhi has been unable to claim the highest rank among 53 metropolitan cities in the country. In another study conducted by IMRB International, Delhi has been ranked third among the happiest cities, after Chandigarh and Lucknow.  These surveys probably dampened the spirits of the national capital’s 18 million residents.

The first survey conducted from 2012 to 2014 highlights India’s best and the worst metros after analysing demographic, economic and social structure indices. The survey also analyses the state of basic infrastructure in these metros. In order to make the study scientific, the data from the 2011 census, a number of National Sample Surveys and Consumer Expenditure pertaining to the relevant years were utilised.  The most startling fact which the survey revealed was that Delhi which was the city with the highest per capita income in the country during 2010- 11 has descended to the 21st position. Delhi’s current monthly per capita income has been reported at Rs. 15,457 against Rs. 26,157 in Faridabad, Rs. 25,892 in Greater Vishakhapatnam, and Rs. 25,798 in Kochi.

Out of 53 metropolitan cities surveyed, Delhi lies 23rd in terms of access to basic infrastructure, whereas Hyderabad, Chennai and Vadodara take up the podium positions.  While deciding the ranks the state of drinking water, sanitation, waste management and roads have also been considered.  Delhi along with two other major metros- Mumbai and Kolkata, is far behind Hyderabad, the most liveable city, and other less important metros like Kochi and Pune. This is indeed shocking. The Capital city has been falling behind despite getting the undivided attention of the Union government. Due to the generous attention showered on it Delhi boasts of the largest number of flyovers and educational centres apart from having one of the finest public transportation systems globally-The Delhi Metro.   While discussing the results with a few enlightened peers of mine, the unanimous opinion which emerged was that the city has witnessed a stark degeneration in terms of forested areas and green cover as well as the rapid degeneration in the quality of the air during the last couple of years, a major cause of concern in itself.

Again Faridabad has secured the pole position in respect of various economic parameters such as <g data-gr-id="50">number</g> of employees with quality jobs and percentage of people above the poverty line. In this regard, Delhi lies at a poor 18th.  Even the city of Gurgaon and the sprawling satellite city of Noida are looking nowhere close to Faridabad.

As we go through the results of the happiness survey, Delhi has attained the third rank after Chandigarh and Lucknow whereas the city of Guwahati is apparently the least happy.  There is one consolation though, as the people of Delhi have been termed as the happiest people amongst the Metros.  Amongst all the Metros, the citizens of Delhi are supposedly happy as they have time for themselves, due recognition of their work, an opportunity to fulfil family needs and access to quality products that make their life easier. No surprise then that based on the same parameters Mumbai’s citizens are the least happy of the lot.  

The present scenario requires an in-depth discussion to find out what made Chandigarh and Lucknow happier than Delhi, despite the attention it receives from the Centre. The survey conducted in 16 Indian cities with a sample size of 2424 correspondents, both male and female, between the ages of 18 to 45 years makes a pertinent point. It is time to sharpen the teeth of the National Capital Region (NCR) Planning Board set up in late 1960s. The Board has yet to formulate an achievable action plan in ensuring a measure of uniform development across the region. Moreover there a sub-plan should be formulated with an aim at decongesting the Capital city as far as possible.

The reasons behind these regressing trends in the capital city are probably due to the vacuum in governance and the lack of a coherent vision to take Delhi ahead.  <g data-gr-id="59">Moreover</g> the politicisation of the entire gamut of development has discouraged the bureaucracy from taking any proactive interventions. Of late the city has inadvertently turned out to be a giant garbage bin shamelessly showcasing its trash and garbage.  We the citizens are afraid that, no one will be held responsible for this mischievous feat, bringing a bad name to the city at a national and international level. No administrator would be able to try any public policy innovation if the intense blame game between the two governments ruled by opposing ideologies continues. One hopes that future surveys won’t be so utterly depressing and demoralising.
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