Sunday, December 21, 2008
Centre for Public Policy Research
Invites internship in the following categories under ‘Reinventing Cochin’ Project initiated by the Centre
Eligibility: Graduate students to retired civil servants
Duration: Two weeks to two months
Time: commitment of 30 working hours to 150 working hours.
Selection: based on the interview
Decentralization - Financial:
- Autonomy of financial resources
- Can local government decide on the use of local resources ?
- Predictability of inter-governmental transfer
- Principles of financial devolution
- Level of adoption of the budget
- Sources of local government funding ((taxes,user charges, borrowing, central government, international aid)
- Can local government raise resources from capital markets without approval of from higher levels of government?
- Percent of funds devolved from higher levels of government
Decentralization - Political:
- Dismissal of mayors, councilors and officials
- Progress of deciding political agenda
- Legislation on de-centralisation (yes/no)
- Number of gender equity oriented initiatives undertaken by local organisation or institutions
- Percentage of elected and nominated members by sex/ethnic group
- Control by higher level of government
- Access to government positions by all groups
- Process of selecting mayor
- Regulatory framework that governs promotion of civil servants
- Career prospects of civil servants
- Pay scale of civil servants
- Tacit knowledge about the power structure
Planning and predictability:
- Openness of procedures for contracts/tenders for municipal services
- Appointments by higher government
- Annual budgeting
- Percent recurrent resources for Pvt Sector/CBO
- who supplies and regulates various services
- independent decisions, regulation/taxes, auditing, removal from office
- Sources of income
- Transparency of local taxation
- Consistency/regularity of local mayor election
- Percentage of population served
- Access of public to stages of policy cycle ( planning, budgeting, monitoring, etc) delegation of public service
- Integration of planning and budgeting
- No of public hearings and participants from different income/ethnic groups
- Are data collected and used by gender and district
- Existence of conflict mediation at local level (budgeted)
- Existing participatory processes
- Group equity in participatory planning and decision making
- Equal access to education and information
- Existence or not of information on differential situation and needs of women and men
- Legal entitlement to different assets to all categories of people
- Self determination of groups in relation to resource management
- Civil freedoms - press, association, justice
- Social group and watch dog for programme implementation
- Number of CBO’s and specific organisations addressing gender issues
- Access to basic needs
- Consumer satisfaction ( survey/complaints)
- Capacity for delivery of services ( including spatial coverage)
- Income/expenditure of local govt/capita
- Legislated local government functions
- Targets, programme, financial
- Economic development ( city Product)
- Environmental quality
Freedom, justice, fairness and equity ( concentrated on equity first):
- Equity in tax system
- Incorporation of excluded groups in the consultation process
- Resource allocation to services benefiting the poor/ the rich
- Access to basic services for disadvantaged groups Eg spatial distribution of services
- Quintile distribution of city product
- Ratio of price of water in formal informal settlements
- Existence of public hearings
- Existence of local media
- Resource allocation towards formal/informal settlement
- Rental; to income ratio in formal and informal settlement
Accountability and transparency:
- Fairness in enforcing laws
- Clarity of procedures and regulations and responsibilities
- Existence of sanction, performance standards and disclosure laws
- Codes of conduct for professional associations
- Social development plan
- Vision/mission statements
- Forward/strategic Plans
- Communication strategy
- Gender perspective
- Revenue growth ( total and own)
- Funds known in advance
- Setting budgets/targets
- Existence of planning department
- Role of key groups in planning , decision making, implementation, monitoring and evaluation
- Freedom of media and existence of local media
- Percentage of people voting by sex and social groups
- Process of public discussion on key issues
- Use of referendum on key issues
- Right of establishing association
- Extent of civil society organization ( monitoring )
- Predictability of enforcement
- Integrity of auditing and monitoring
- Existence of enabling city legislative environment
- Predictability of institutional change
- Credibility of rules
- Existence of an official admin structure
- Percentage of unsafe city areas-crime rates (murder, rape)
- Police corruption- feeling of safety
- Per capita revenue
- Cost of various services
- Percentage economic Growth
- Percentage on salaries
- Employees per delivery service
- General administration share
- Number of local government employees/ 1000 population
- Resource requirements to organised groups
- Status of local leadership ( formal, informal, legitimate, non legitimate, respected, non respected, independent
- Existence of emergency laws against public meetings, tradition of public action
- No of NGO’s
- No of procedures need e to register NGO’s
Planning and management:
- Functional responsibilities for service provision (sewerage, water, education, health, social services, green space etc)
- Possibility that the mayor is good!!!!
1. Consumer satisfaction (survey/complaints)
Selected candidates will be given training and quality benchmarked articles will be published in reinventing cochin website and also in the local dailies.
Interested candidates can forward your resume to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, December 11, 2008
When I explored the possibility of an internship related to Cochin, in connection with urban governance I came to know about the Area Sabha, which is already in air by a vibrant civil society in India. Can we fill the gap between Corporation and the common people with the help of this idea?
There is an observation that, if we consider the possibility of a facilitator role in bridging the gap between the authority and the public what is the role of lay man????
How are the representative motives of the political parties represent the human needs including basic needs?
Why the inert mindset of the urban middle class is prevalent in recent elections?
Why the so called new generation negating the impact of public life in the society?
These are some questions which I have in my mind, at present.
I will come up with new insights in the following days
Sunday, October 19, 2008
While urban planners are making some cities in the world more walkable, our cities are becoming increasingly hostile to pedestrians. SHYAMA RAJAGOPAL goes into the results of a pedestrian audit conducted recently by an NGO in Kochi.
Walking on the roads in Kochi is a nightmare.
Ask pedestrians and they will tell you why. Unruly traffic, overflowing gutters, encroachments, non-existent foot paths, accumulated garbage – the list goes on and on.
So what exactly makes life so difficult for pedestrians on our roads.
A pedestrian audit by the Kochi-based Centre for Public Policy Research tried to find out the problems faced by pedestrians, what they thought should be done to facilitate safe walking and who they thought should take the lead in improving the situation.
A pedestrian audit, says the centre, is a road safety audit.
Or in other words, it is what the government agencies undertake to estimate the safety needs of the roads.
It seeks to ensure adherence to road safety rules and construction regulations, be a forum to showcase the opinions of all stakeholders, let authorities have a say and yet see how far one can hold them accountable in a non-confrontational manner. Though the centre’s initiative may not have covered a large number of people, it is, perhaps, the first one of its kind to find out what the pedestrians look forward to.
And to that extent, an intiative to make the city more ‘walkable’.
The centre points out that that the Indian road rules insist on footpaths with an even surface and continuity with a minimum of 1.5-m width.
And they should be clean and free from obstacles or encroachments.
Besides how many know that footpaths ought to have guiding blocks for visually challenged people and the kerb height should not exceed 15 cm?
The capacity of footpaths must, as far as one- and two-way footpaths go, differ according to the number of pedestrians traversing on it, points out another specification for Indian roads. But in most cities, a one-way road is indistinguishable from a two-way one. There are often no indications to show that a particular road is one-way. A motorist gets to know about it on being nabbed by the police.
The centre also refers to the lack of awareness of traffic signals among pedestrians. Many do not know that that a zebra crossing is a free-cross zone.
Most pedestrians take a criss-cross route to cross the roads in between the flow of vehicles. Many, perhaps, do not even know what the traffic lights indicate.
And what made Kochi roads unfriendly to pedestrains? About 76 per cent of those who took part in the audit listed unruly traffic as the main obstacle.
This was followed by overflowing gutters, garbage, absence of pedestrian crossings, unusable footpaths, two-wheelers usurping footpaths, encroachments and so on.In the audit, about 48 per cent of the respondents indicated that better traffic regulation is needed to make the roads pedestrian- friendly. Better regulation can be achieved by providing separate lanes for different types of vehicles, said about 47 per cent of the respondents. Nearly 43 per cent indicated that pedestrian pathways have to be improved.
And who are capable of making roads more pedestrian friendly?The majority (37 per cent) felt it was the government authorities who should take the lead.
Those who said the onus was on vehicle drivers made up about 20 per cent and that on the general public, 18 per cent.
A significant section – about 30 per cent – said that among others, all the three sections, should play a role in bringing about change.
Monday, October 13, 2008
Saturday, August 30, 2008
KOCHI: Walking might be good for health, but not along Kochi’s roads. Many roads in the city, including arterial ones do not have footpaths, forcing people to walk along uneven road shoulders. Insensitive motorists do not care for pedestrians and brush past them at high-speed. Pedestrians are not safe even at zebra lines, where motorists in all civilised countries slow down to give them preference. Out in Kochi, they intimidate pedestrians by trying to speed past before they manage to cross the road.
Bus stops increase when people are reluctant to walk to the next bus stop along unsafe and ill-maintained footpaths.
Better footpaths would mean that more people take to walking up short distances – an inexpensive and non-polluting way to travel.
Thursday, August 28, 2008
This Article appeared in Indian Express
KOCHI: How successful is the concept of car-pooling against the backdrop of the police move to collect token fee from single-passenger cars entering the city?
The concept suggests that if a number of people are coming from nearby places they can share a single vehicle. This will help avoiding unnecessary entry of vehicles into the city and fuel consumption.
While some people express their doubts about the feasibility of the concept, some others point out that already there are people going for car-pooling.
The city police have already sent a proposal to the state government seeking permission for collecting token fee from single-passenger cars entering the city. Once the proposal is implemented, people can park their vehicles near the South and North over-bridges and enter the city in public transports.
“People can park their vehicles near the over bridge and opt for circular service of public transports. The concept of car- pooling can be effectively implemented if people are ready for shared travelling. Advocates, who come to the High Court from one place can share a single vehicle. The court staff can also opt for pooling. There are lots of advocates using four-wheelers. Once they opt for car-pooling that itself will considerably reduce the traffic,’’ said City Police Commissioner Manoj Abraham.
The concept would be suited for advocates coming from nearby places, said advocate Anchal Vijayan. “ concept is indeed welcoming. I think, it’s already a practise in some of the major cities like New Delhi. I feel that the concept can be used not only by advocates but also by others working in similar offices,’’ he said. What’s more? There are already people opted for car-pooling.
“ four-five people are coming from Kakkanad side. Hence, we decided that we can use a single car. Alternate vehicles will be used each day. Someday there will be four and some days five. Even though we didn’t start the system keeping this concept in mind, we find it very useful,’’ said a woman working with the High Court.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
Starting from the basics, a Pedestrian Audit is a species of the genus known as a Road Safety Audit; an initiative usually undertaken by governmental authorities to estimate the safety needs of the roads. It’s more than just a plain analysis. It seeks to ensure adherence to road safety rules and construction regulations, be a forum to showcase the opinions of all stakeholders, to let authorities have a say and yet see how far one can hold them accountable in a non-confrontational manner.
As to the question of why do a pedestrian audit, I would say, it's because pedestrians, as a race(?) are everywhere. They are not an ethnic group found in some far-flung corner of the world. A passenger or a driver of a vehicle is a pedestrian the minute they step out of their transport. You may not find a vehicle, a driver or a passenger everywhere, but the world over, your sure to find a pedestrian, simply because of the pleasure an inexpensive stroll bestows. Inspite of being the largest road users to-date, they remain pitifully under-represented and their voices unheard.
A traveler of the Indian sub-continent will tell you that from the northernmost reaches of India to its southernmost tip, perhaps exempting our capital city of Delhi, all Indian roads are intercept with strategically formed potholes with patches of road left un-tarred, a testament perhaps, to the rather unusual aesthetic sense of our reigning governments. Signals malfunction and policemen either stray from their posts or point blank refuse to stay in places with heavy traffic flow, thereby contributing to haphazard traffic.
Overflowing drains find themselves covered in just-barely-there concrete slabs that are laid so that they form a semblance of a footpath, a myth which is almost immediately dispelled the minute one steps on them. They quiver like feathers, and one soon dreads the inevitable drench in gutter water. Medians are either non-existent or extent for miles at a stretch, prompting the frustrated pedestrian to demolish parts of it to make way for crossing the road… talk about “State-sponsored vandalism!!!” (term, curtsey Dhanuraj).
Apart from shaky footholds over gutters, Indian roads have no specific footpaths to speak off. Vehicles veer dangerously on roads and the Indian pedestrian, an agile and fearless breed of streetwalkers, jump out of the way in record time. In monsoons, this becomes a particularly challenging feat, as the Indian pedestrian finds it difficult to differentiate between a gutter and a foothold, with murky rainwater upto their calves.
Not very hard to gauge the safety levels (or the absolute lack of them!!!) of an Indian road, is it? We’re hoping to alert the public as to the hazards and pitfalls (pun intended!) of the Indian road, without them having to suffer a personal (read harrowing/traumatizing) experience of a gutter-bath or something equally vexing!
Thursday, July 3, 2008
Article written by Justice V.R.Krishna Iyer.
Published in The Hindu, 22/06/2008
To save a city: of civic chaos and bathos in Kochi
V.R. Krishna Iyer
It is a shock and a shame that the beautiful city of Kochi has been degraded from a clean and green urban area into an ubiquitously waste- defiled territory — thanks to grave dereliction of municipal duty and administrative anarchy. The situation is aggravated by a paradox: on its streets and avenues, shops that sell gold and silver stand on the one hand and heaps of garbage and filth pile up on the other.
Kochi is Kerala’s growing industrial capital and tourist centre. It has five-star hotels, big business sky-peaks, crowded apartments and a huge High Court building that looks more like a shopping complex than a majestic justice marvel. The Arabian Seabounds the city on the west. The milieu used to be green everywhere with coconut trees and turbid but cool backwaters encircling it. Kochi was the loveliest urban space in South India.
But a lurid gloom has befallen this quondam beauty spot on account of unplanned development and putrid degradation.
It presents a situation that is too delinquent to be forgiven, too traumatic to be tolerated. Concrete jungles, miasmatic drains, narrow roads and tricky footpaths pose risks for pedestrians. Vintage Kochi was charming, with history speaking of little princelings and imperial relics. But now it is foul and filthy, hostile to sanitation, and so tragic in traffic that road safety is a common casualty.
On the roads, potholes and large pits come back to back. Cars, buses, two-wheelers, three-wheelers and other frightful automobiles are parked in glaring violation of the rules, impinging on street space and paralysing traffic. Cars and trucks and snaky wild-wheelers terrorise people everywhere. Police inaction makes crazy locomotion a common violation, and frenzied goondaism an urban outrage.
The traffic lights function fitfully. Road blockages that last for hours, and rash driving, mar tranquillity. With walkways disappearing, pedestrians have become aliens: freedom of movement is a forgotten right.
Yet, the gravest crisis that confronts Kochi is mega-garbage malignancy. The perennial presence of unsightly garbage, plastic refuse and contaminated water makes living in this city a hazard. What pathos and bathos of mismanagement! There are no dustbins, no buckets for plastics, no public sense of cleanliness. There is nothing of the old clean and green city, with its sunny beauty and plural divinity.
The people are even now well-dressed, pretty and smart. But each day, residents throw waste and dirty water into public places, and the municipal authorities turn a blind eye to such acts. And the malodorous city remains untidy, stinks and sinks in overflowing drains. The rain aggravates the situation, leaving the rags and offal putrefying. The High Court, from its high edifice, does judicial justice, and pronounces on disputes at a lofty level founded on sublime jurisprudence beyond the reach of the have-nots.
But the most sinister sin being committed by the Kochi Corporation is the grisly garbage catastrophe. What a tragedy, trauma and travesty. Horror here, horror there, horror everywhere, in the harrowing layers of putrid waste lying all over the place. Is there a government that has concern for Kochi? Is there a sense of urgency to liberate this city from the garbage syndrome? The media write pungently and poignantly, but municipal instruments and
governmental organs ignore or remain ineffectual in the face of this noxious nuisance. Why don’t the members of the Municipal Corporation resign with self-respect, decency and dignity, in protest, and design a better municipal management? Does the Opposition have a solution,
and an alternative process to dispose waste?
Tourists will soon discover Kochi to be Mega-Garbage Inc., a challenge to public health and civic happiness. This city has a dreaded trinityof pathologies: its ever-expanding Smart City status; the perennial garbage syndrome; and the rash rush of speed monster vehicles including ‘tipper’ trucks. This urban malignancy is writ large ubiquitously. This collapse of public sanitation and traffic sanity can be restored by law, if enforced by incorruptible officers and community cooperation.
But callous municipal sweepers, sleepy police constables and an indifferent health department hold the civic administration to ransom. If awarded a week’s prison holiday, such administrators will wake up. The defaulting contractors deserve a cancellation order and a heavy fine.
To function well, democracy needs determination with socialist conviction. What a scandalising scenario of criminal chaos in front of their ‘lordships’ and the learned Bar! An emergency ordinance, a suomotu High Court mandamus, extraordinary public health militancy, and a
people’s war on endemic vices are the desideratum. But the iron curtain of ministerial myopia and political power pachydermy blinds them to municipal justice. The law is dead, governance is tricken by bureaucratic neurosis, politicians are locked in party polemics or lost in foreign travel, and judges are Bench-busy with long lawyerly ‘submissions’. Justice is not mere logomachy but the right to life in dignity.
The polluters should pay. The Kochi Corporation and the district administration, by chronic inaction and delinquent default has made killer traffic an hourly road tragedy and mounting garbage a barbarity. These deserve popular, media and judicial censure.
We must plan to ban every high-rise concrete monster littering Kochi. Every apartment complex, under municipal orders, shall construct a biogas or biomass unit or make compost using the waste, and shall not use notified plastic items. Traffic shall be humanised and rationalised. The glut of automobiles should be arrested.
Kochi is also a colony under the mosquito empire, whose army wings sing, sting and suck your blood till you submit to disease. The people of Kochi should arise, awake and never rest till the city is truth and beauty again. Unless this is done, what is today Kochi’s chaos, bathos and Thanatos will be everywhere in India tomorrow.