By 2040, over half of India's population will live in cities and towns. How many of them will live in slums? To prevent intense migration pressure on the handful of metros and state capitals and the resulting urban dehumanisation, policymakers must urgently focus on reviving India's small towns and big villages. Yet, most small town municipalities are in shambles; they lack resources, planning, data, maps, incentives and proper accounting. Corruption and power politics dog them, and citizens have no say or role in their running. This book looks at the kaleidoscope of municipal finance issues in India, keeping the small towns at the core, and argues for a radical change in the constitution and working of these municipalities, with effective devolution of funds, functions, and functionaries from the state level. It contends that municipal bodies need to function independently and with real participation of citizens to be the force of change that gives birth to a new urban India.
Paromita Shastri has been an economic journalist for 25 years and worked in senior editorial positions at Business Standard in Kolkata and at The Economic Times, Outlook Magazine, and Mint in New Delhi. As an independent writer editor now, she has written for various organisations, among them IFPRI, The World Bank, the Planning Commission and the M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation (MSSRF). She is also a translator and child rights activist. She has written an exhaustive report, called "Blind Alley: Juvenile Justice in India", for HAQ: Centre for Child Rights, New Delhi, and is currently looking after their research work in child budgeting and education. She has a postgraduate degree in economics as well as journalism from Kolkata.