Researching the politics of development
Understanding the contribution of the BSUP (JNNURM) to inclusive cities in India
Working paper 97
Sundar Burra, Diana Mitlin and Gayatri Menon with Indu Agarwal, Preeti Banarse, Sharmila Gimonkar, Maria Lobo, Sheela Patel, Vinodkumar Rao and Monali Waghmare
The Basic Services for the Urban Poor (BSUP) sub-Mission of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) sought to address the needs of some of the lowest-income and most vulnerable urban dwellers in Indian cities. The promise was that these residents would receive ‘a garland of 7 entitlements’ – security of tenure, affordable housing, water, sanitation, health, education and social security in low-income settlements in the 63 Mission cities. We researched the outcomes of the BSUP in five Indian cities (Bhopal, Bhubaneswar, Patna, Pune and Visakhapatnam), which were selected because of their diversity. They presented a wide range of socio-economic contexts and economic development and also differed in the nature and extent of civil society involvement in BSUP programming.
The research findings analysed outcomes of the BSUP interventions and addressed the significance of State capacities, commitments and vision for urban development for these outcomes. The analysis then considered the ‘drivers of capacity, commitment and vision’. The vision (or idea) of urban development emerged as a significant indicator of outcomes. In practice, the BSUP became a housing programme. The extent to which informal settlement upgrading was preferred over resettlement and site redevelopment with the construction of medium-rise apartments made a significant difference to the satisfaction of residents. Also important, and particularly exemplified by experiences in Pune, was willingness to work with civil society organisations, incorporating their expertise and skills. However, these were not present in all cities. Residents in Bhopal and Visakhapatnam may face particular affordability challenges due to high levels of debt incurred through participation in the BSUP.
In summary, BSUP experiences and outcomes provide evidence of the significance of vision capacity and commitment. While in part these are determined by levels of economic and institutional development, they are also influenced by government willingness to collaborate with civil society agencies with appropriate experiences and skills.