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Over 330 million people live in India’s 5,165 cities, with 35 cities having a population of over a million. Three (Mumbai, Delhi, and Kolkata) of the 10 largest metropolises in the world are in India. Over two-thirds of GDP originates in urban agglomerations in the country. However, urban governance and finance in India leave much to be desired in terms of providing services to the country’s burgeoning urban population and with respect to its flexibility in accommodating different needs and pressures and its lack of resiliency in adapting to shocks, whether natural or manmade. This paper draws on lessons from fiscal federalism theory and experiences of governance institutions and financing systems around the world to identify some key reforms needed to ensure more citizen participation and greater accountability in urban governance, and to augment and strengthen the capacity of Indian cities to deliver more adequate services and provide needed urban infrastructure.


International Center for Public Policy Working Paper Series #1203, Andrew Young School of Policy Studies, Georgia State University.

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