Panel Paper: Fields of Governance: How Social Forces Shape the Implementation of India’s Basic Services for the Urban Poor Scheme

Friday, July 20, 2018
Building 3, Room 213 (ITAM)

*Names in bold indicate Presenter

Jamie Lynn McPike, American Institutes for Research

As cities across the Global South continue to urbanize, developing the urban governance capacity necessary to provide basic services and infrastructure to growing urban populations has become increasingly critical. In India, a large-scale urban policy was unveiled in 2005--the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (NURM)--to enhance urban governance, improve urban infrastructure, and address the proliferation of urban slums. A sub-mission of the policy--Basic Services for the Urban Poor (BSUP)--provides housing and basic services to slum residents. While BSUP was plagued with challenges since its inception, in Bangalore, India, state actors have had some success in developing housing for the urban poor. This research investigates how state actors navigate complex policy processes and overcome significant institutional hurdles to achieve developmental and governance aims in a growing metropolis.

Drawing on data from 110 interviews (with bureaucrats, policymakers, and civil society actors), six focus groups (with 56 slum residents impacted by BSUP housing developments), participant observation, and analysis of official documents, I trace the implementation of BSUP at the city, state, and federal level in order to develop a richer understanding of the state and multi-level urban governance in India. I argue that urban governance capacity in India is less dependent on bureaucratic autonomy, cohesiveness, and rational authority (characteristics earlier identified as crucial to state capacity). Rather, governance capacity is best understood as a negotiated and dynamic process, and policy outcomes are shaped by the balance of forces between multiple government and civil society actors at a given time.