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Political determinants of municipal capacity: a study of urban reforms in Ahmedabad and Kanpur, India

Priyadarshi, Praveen Kumar (2018) Political determinants of municipal capacity: a study of urban reforms in Ahmedabad and Kanpur, India. PhD thesis, London School of Economics and Political Science.

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Identification Number: 10.21953/lse.fzu2za8je1bz


This thesis asks why major urban reforms in India between 2005 and 2015 were more successfully implemented in some cities than in others. It undertakes a study of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM), launched in 2005 by the Indian government, which aimed to implement governance reforms and urban infrastructure renewal across 65 Indian cities, but finished with only modest success. The implementation outcome of the mission also varied across cities. This thesis focuses on the differential implementation outcomes of the reforms in two Indian cities, Ahmedabad and Kanpur, and identifies historically constituted political capacity - located in municipal organization at the city level - as the key determinant of divergent trajectories in the JNNURM implementation. The study adapts John Kingdon‟s framework of „policy windows‟ to explore the formation of municipal capacities and municipal organisations in the two cities. The research identifies two historical „windows‟ that were crucial in the shaping of municipal organizations in Ahmedabad and Kanpur: the first episode was the colonial formation of municipal organisations; the second episode was the period of neoliberalisation. Following Kingdon, in each window, the problem, the policy and the politics have been identified and spelled out. The process of “coupling” between the problem and the policy has then been analysed by looking at the nature of politics and the principal political actors. The analysis demonstrates that while in Ahmedabad, the coupling was achieved during the two historical episodes, the problem and the policy remained unattached in the case of Kanpur. This variation led to two different architectures of municipal organisations in the two cities, resulting in different levels of municipal capacities at the time of the inauguration of the JNNURM. The thesis concludes that the specific histories of urban governance systems matter, and a policy insensitive to this, is likely to fail.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2018 Praveen Kumar Priyadarshi
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Sets: Departments > International Development
Supervisor: Putzel, James

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