Coming down heavily on the way Indian cities are managed, a new report has said that not only are they bogged with a huge staff vacancy – on an average 35% in the 23 metropolitan centres surveyed – what is worse, those who are responsible for running them, such as municipal commissioners, have little or no experience in urban management.
Pointing out that the “highest vacancy” found in Guwahati, the report, prepared by a Bengaluru-based high-profile NGO, Janaagraha, regrets, “None of the cities has cadre and recruitment rules that contain modern job descriptions covering both technical skills and managerial competencies for each role or position in the municipality.”
Called “The Annual Survey of India’s City-Systems (ASICS) 2017: Shaping India’s urban agenda”, the report, around the time when the Government of India is seeking to push the implementation of its Smart City projects, states, “Commissioners of cities do not possess adequate domain experience in urban management constraining their ability to deliver strongly”, adding, “On average, commissioners only have 2.7 years of experience in urban management.”
Worse, the report says, “Medium-sized cities have commissioners with 1.2 years of urban management experience, whereas large and mega cities have commissioners with 2.9 and 4.1 years respectively”, adding, “Commissioners in Ludhiana, Guwahati, Dehradun, Kanpur, Ranchi, Thiruvananthapuram and Chandigarh have less than a year’s experience in urban management.”
According to the report, “While it is true that 15 out of the 23 cities have access to a municipal cadre, the underlying rules are quite weak.” As against “robust and modern HR policies, municipalities lack normative standards for job roles, and clearly defined job descriptions covering both technical skills and managerial competencies.
Pointing out that mayors and councils in India’s cities are “toothless”. The report states, “They don’t have full decision-making authority over critical functions and services such as planning, housing, water, environment, fire and emergency services etc.”
Based on its analysis, the report gives Pune highest marks, 5.1 on a scale of 10, followed by Kolkata, Thiruvananthapuram, Bhubaneswar and Surat. Delhi ranks sixth, followed Ahmedabad and Hyderabad, while Bengaluru is ranked worse (3 out of 10). Even Bhopal, Jaipur and Patna rank higher.
However, according the report, out cities are “improving at a snail’s pace”, and their score between 3.0 and 5.1 is comparable with London and New York, which score 8.8, Johannesburg 7.6.