The mobility and responsive urban planning (Mint)
Mains Paper 1: Society
Prelims level: Not much
Mains level: Urban planning process
- Mobility is increasingly circular, semi or non-permanent. Although a
bulk of it is regional, many stream of migration are also long-distance and
This dynamic situation of mobility is at variance with public policies in
cities that are being transformed by the presence of and contribution of
This gap in public policy compels migrants to find solutions outside the
formal system. Such patterns generate a vicious cycle in which both cities
and migrants get trapped.
- The census data estimates the number of migrants at 3.3 million.
However, several studies including the Economic Survey of India 2017 suggest
that this is a significant underestimation, as it tend to neglect the
short-term and circular migration
- Most urban policies, initiated at the central or state level, seemed to
have overlooked the emerging forms of mobility that is largely circular and
- This has led to wrong assumptions that city dwellers are sedentary and
linkages of citizenship to long-term residence do not fit this emergent form
Changing Scale and Forms of Mobility in India:
- Economic Survey of India (2016-17) places the estimation of interstate
migration at 60 million and inter-district migration at 80 million.
- However, it is important to recognize that there are clear indications
that mobility in India is
significantly increasing and that the forms of this mobility are varied and
do not correspond to a permanent move.
- Two forms which are particularly significant are: a) commuting and b)
circular migration. Both these forms of mobility have implications for the
way in which cities are shaped.
How Mobility Transforms Places?
- Large-scale migration has significant implications for places.
Conventional data measuring more permanent movement would estimate such
implications in terms of burdens on infrastructure and housing. However,
there is another aspect that is solely associated with temporary form of
- Temporary forms of migrants are people who contribute to the city
economy while they are there but their efforts are directed at places which
they come from i.e. the source areas. This is where they contribute in terms
of remittances, investments, asset building, and state revenues.
- On the other hand, they contribute significantly to the economic flows
and outputs, extract less resources from the city, and bring in new ideas
and ways of doing things.
- While work and economic reasons may be the largest drivers for such
migration, education and health resource seeking may also be supplementary
reasons for the same. These create specific demands on city infrastructures
- A neglect of these needs pushes people into creating their own makeshift
solutions. A road junction is then converted into an ‘adda’ with tea-food
stalls, rest places, footpaths, and roads are subsequently taken over as
- On the other hand, a proactive approach to migration can lead to
significant benefits for the city economy and city vibrancy.
Need for Vision for Supporting Migrants in Urban Policy: Short-term Housing:
- Short-term housing is perhaps one of the most critical and unmet needs
of migrants to Indian cities. Short-term visitors to cities include all
those groups that use city as a resource.
- Needs for stays longer than hotel stays and lesser than rental housing
are the most neglected.
- Housing markets have begun to recognize this need and cater to it
through serviced apartments.
- However, there is a complete absence of options when it comes to the
low-income end. In older days, cities had dharamshalas. Contemporary Indian
cities lack such options.
- The other significant barrier to creating short-term housing solutions
lies in the current imagination of housing. Contemporary housing policies
rest upon two broad principles – the first is ownership-based housing and
other is use of land as resource.
- The first principle helps in creation of Citizenship, which in turn
secures sustained commitment and investment in a place. Similarly second
principle help to monitise land.
- However, a negative impact of both these policy instruments is that they
limit the possibilities of short-term housing and undermine the needs for
space for shelter in cities.
- Only local governments with an on-ground knowledge of realities will be
able to respond to above discussed challenges as opposed to State
Governments who have a more top-down and
homegenising view of these issues.
It is therefore essential to move away from the current State Govt.-based
policy onus and equip local governments in terms of capacity to cognize such
issues, collect data, and to possess the powers and resources to respond to
dynamic phenomena such as migration.
Q.1) With reference to the Guru Ravidas (Bhakti movement), consider the
1. The 41 hymns of Guru Ravidas have been included in the Guru Granth Sahib.
2. He abandoned saguna (with attributes, image) forms of supreme beings, and
focussed on the nirguna (without attributes, abstract) form of supreme beings.
Which of the statements given above is/are correct?
(a) 1 only
(b) 2 only
Q.1) How mobility transforms took places? What are the steps needed to support
migrants in urban policy?