Tag Archives: Mayors

Our cities need better leaders

Today’s Livemint editorial talks about how Indian cities need better leadership and how its current political structure hinders good administration:

India does not have the political structures required to run its growing cities with large budgets. One of the key problems is the lack of quality political leadership at the third level of government (the problem is perhaps even more acute in the village panchayats). The two are linked: talented politicians are unlikely to be attracted to a job that has little power while handing over more power to city governments will backfire unless the quality of urban leadership improves. Much of the debates on devolution seem to bypass this key obstacle. Indian cities need the quality of political leadership that was available many decades ago, when people of the calibre of Nehru, Patel, Bose, Rajagopalachari and Prasad led city governments.

Several countries in the world have empowered mayors. New York mayors such as Rudy Giuliani or Michael Bloomberg can be effective because they have power; Boris Johnson has far more freedom to manage London than his Indian counterparts; the campaign to bring the Olympics to Rio de Janeiro has been led by mayor Eduardo Paes; even many Chinese cities have been hothouses for political talent that later went national. In India, state governments that have traditionally been run by rural elites have not been keen to hand power to city governments that are usually treated as cash cows to fund patronage networks in the hinterland. The way Karnataka politicians have treated Bangalore or Maharashtra politicians have treated Mumbai are two obvious examples.

Full Article: Indian cities need better leadership, February 14, 2014.