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

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Greenfield Development as Tabula Rasa

Greenfield urban development can be seen as an enduring idiom of politics in India, with state initiative from precolonial times to the present day responsible for establishing iconic capital cities such as Jaipur, Kolkata, or Chandigarh. However, a renewed interest in building new cities, variously labelled "smart," "green" or "integrated," is now accompanied by an increasing tendency to instrumentalise the urban in pursuit of economic growth and a competitive drive to attract global financial flows. Situated at the intersection of several recent literatures from speculative urbanism to theorisations of rescaling and bypass, the papers in this special issue foreground the struggles over land that animate debates about these greenfield sites while looking beyond these concerns to question the urban futures they presage. Synthesising the insights from these papers, this essay flags critical issues for the politics of urban development and sketches pathways for future research.

New Regimes of Private Governance

New forms of urban organisation with private modes of governance are being unleashed across India through the creation of special economic zones, industrial townships and smart cities. This paper aims to bring a grounded understanding of the emergence of such spaces by examining the transformation of the governance systems in Electronics City in peri-urban Bengaluru with the constitution of the Electronics City Industrial Township Authority. Even though ELCITA is not a democratically elected body, it is vested with the powers of a municipality, including the power to levy property tax and perform municipal functions. Such an institution could be created because of an exception provided for industrial townships under the 74th constitutional amendment. New urban regimes like ELCITA are created to bypass the social and political realities of Indian cities. Does this represent a new regime of governance that questions some of the basic premises of state authority in a democracy?
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