ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Data, Urbanisation and the City

By using the enormous processing capacity of computing that is now available, we can, it is claimed, improve how cities are governed--make them smart! This review attempts to illuminate how data reveals relationships between citizens and the state and thus facilitates an informed debate on whether data can be deployed to build a more inclusive and constructive relationship between citizens and their government. As urbanisation deepens, we see struggles around who gets to decide what is to be governed and how the data is to be collected and deployed and what technologies and skills are to be deployed for implementation. The papers in this collection can be viewed in three groups, respectively, dealing with three issues: data collection processes, intra-urban spatial inequities and use of new sensing technologies.

Telangana Survey and the Question of Privacy

The statewide Intensive Household Survey conducted in Telangana is similar to many such surveys carried out in undivided Andhra Pradesh. The data collected and used by state and non-state parties have political implications. One is of "data convergence", that is, intelligence about individuals that can be gathered by overlaying two or more data sets. The other is of "data travel", that is, the ability of many agents to access the data. In the absence of any safeguards, the conduct of the IHS and its emotionally charged context must be a matter of concern.

The Telangana Tangle Begins to Unravel

Notwithstanding the popular upsurge for the separate state of Telangana, it is clear that when the state is actually created it will be on capitalist turf and on capitalist terms. The declaration has been made on the basis of electoral compulsions of the Congress party that has pledged to abandon the nominal socialist agenda, which characterised the earlier aspirations for a separate state .

Contemporary Fault Lines in Applied Economic Research

A widely-cited social cost-benefit analysis conducted by the National Council of Applied Economic Research projected net benefi ts from the POSCO steel project in Odisha. Yet, a close examination of the report suggests a fl awed methodology and inexplicable changes in assumptions. As a result, the two primary benefi ts claimed for the POSCO project - employment and revenues to the state - seem to be grossly incorrect. The privatisation of base data used in some of the projections not only makes the task of verifi cation arduous, but also puts it beyond the reach of democratic oversight. The issues in applied economic research in this case can be seen as symptomatic of structural problems in neo-liberal policymaking.

Urban Poverty in India

What kinds of subjects-in-the-making are the urban poor? The authors in this issue of the Review of Urban Affairs offer neither conclusive arguments nor radically new paradigms. They, however, nudge us to rethink poverty, not as an objective condition that can be addressed through policymaking at a distance or by targeted development schemes, but as constituted through contentious engagements of disadvantaged individuals and communities with neo-liberal policy discourses and agendas.

Tragedy of the Commons Revisited (I)

Despite constitutional and legislative commitments to protect the commons, they are under threat across India. This article on the plight of commons in the peasant economy of Karimnagar in Telangana, which have been endangered by quarrying, argues that the commons are neither properly understood in this country nor are there adequate rules to govern them. Resistance to encroachment of the commons is either seen as illegitimate or lacking in sufficient legal grounding. Such resistance is then overpowered with ease and impunity by a coalition of private entrepreneurs, civil servants, politicians and their scions, all of whom reap enormous profits

New Cities for Old

Re-visioning Indian Cities: The Urban Renewal Mission by K C Sivaramakrishnan (New Delhi: Sage Publications), 2011; pp 279, Rs 695.

No Estoppel: Claiming Right to the City via the Commons

The right to the city, an idea mooted by French radical philosophers in 1968, has become a popular slogan among right to housing activists and inclusive growth policymakers. In Indian cities unprecedented and unregulated growth, incremental land use change, privatisation and chaotic civic infrastructure provisioning are fracturing resources created over centuries and reducing the right to the city to mere right to housing and property, thus short-changing the concept's transformative potential. Urban actors need to draw inspiration from the way social movements world over including in India have deployed the notion of the commons as a defence against corporate exploitation of biodiversity. Envisioning the right to the city as the fundamental human right, a demand for a just and sustainable social order where collective resources are respected and regenerated to support life, entails a democratic approach to the creation of knowledge about our cities. Such knowledge creation is necessarily a collaborative effort involving citizens who are differentially located in relation to the commons - policymakers, neighbourhood residents, workers and academic researchers.

Engendering Geographic Research in India

Doing Gender, Doing Geography: Emerging Research in India edited by Saraswati Raju and Kuntala Lahiri Dutt (New Delhi: Routledge); 2010, pp 318, Rs 795.

Urban Concerns: An Introduction

This is the first issue of a new biannual, the Review of Urban Affairs. The RUA will contain articles that look at different aspects of urbanisation in the context of the growing importance of "urban society" in India and elsewhere in the world. The review will be guided by an external advisory group which will suggest themes, commission articles and have them reviewed/revised before publication.

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