The sad, bad story of Delhi as a world city

UN Report says Delhi ranks 58 on developmental and environmental indices among 95 world cities.

Published: 21st October 2012 09:24 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st October 2012 09:24 AM   |  A+A-


Delhi’s middle class is being pushed to its periphery. This was revealed in the United Nations (UN)-Habitat, ‘State of the World’s Cities’ report for the year 2012-13. The fact that the report will be presented to the United Nations General Assembly in New York does not seem to help New Delhi’s case given the low ranking on most parameters. “In Delhi, the middle class is being thrown to the periphery of cities. The city of the 21st century will be a result of political decision and not administrative decisions,” says Eduardo Lopez Moreno, Principal Author of the report.

In spite of various pompous claims made time and again, the Capital is far away from standards that would make it a world class city. From a total of 95 cities ranked by UN, Delhi is way below at 58. On the parameter of Human Development, UN has ranked Delhi at 0.7 (on a scale of 0.1 – 0.9 – 1) while the country’s Human Development Index (HDI) was a little over 0.5 in 2010, according to UN. This means Delhi is a city with “moderate prosperity”. But Delhi has a long way to go as many cities have HDI passing the 0.9 mark.

Cities with very solid prosperity factors have an HDI of 0.9 and above, cities with solid prosperity factors have an HDI from 0.8 to 0.9, city with solid prosperity factors- second category have HDI from 0.7 to 0.8. A city having moderate prosperity has HDI of 0.6 to 0.7. Cities with weak prosperity have an index from 0.5 to 0.6.

Talking about HDI, the report states that HDI is typically higher in cities as compared to national averages as cities are generally richer than the rest of the country. However, differences between city and country HDI are steeper in nations with lower HDI than those with higher HDI. In the developing world, some urban areas are becoming so prosperous that they have closed the gap with, or even suppressed the HDI of cities in developed nations. The report states that a city is only prosperous to the extent that poverty and inequalities are minimal. No city can claim to be prosperous when large segments of population live in abject poverty or deprivation.

A K Mishra, secretary, Ministry of Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation, said, “It is seen that in big Indian cities, 25 per cent of the people do not have some definitive source of livelihood. Thirty per cent of the people don’t have houses to live in, and virtually stay on the road. Recently, a study commissioned in 250 towns in Maharashtra, which is considered to be one of the most progressive states in the country revealed that, sewage connectivity is only 52 per cent. In slum areas the sewage connectivity is mere two per cent.” Mishra said the planning process has segregated the poor out of urban living.

“In Delhi, there was a plan chalked out by Delhi Development Authority (DDA) to reserve 35 per cent of housing and 20 per cent of land for urban poor, but it never happened.” This is because the poor don’t have a say in the planning process. Mishra said, “It has to be seen how the poor will get a say in the formation of the regional and master plan. In next phase of the Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) we are planning to do this. We don’t want the poor to be pushed to the periphery of our cities.”

On the productivity index, Delhi ranks at 0.6 (on a scale of 0-0.1-1). The productivity index is measured through the city product, which is composed of variables such as capital investment, formal, informal employment, inflation, trade, savings, export, import and household income and consumption. The city product represents the total output of goods and services. The productivity of a city is linked to its economic development, generates income, and provides jobs, equal opportunities for all by implementing effective economic policies and reforms.

On the parameter of environmental sustainability, Delhi ranks way below, at a little over 0.4 (on a scale of 0- 0.1 – 0.9- 1). UN has calculated the environment sustainability on the basis of air quality, CO2 emissions and indoor pollution. Delhi is not all that green, despite campaigns of the state government stating that it is a green city. On the quality of life index, a parameter that takes into account facilities like education, health and public spaces, Delhi has scored 0.7 (on a scale of 0-0.1-1). On the parameter of infrastructure development index, Delhi scored 0.8.

The UN states that a prosperous city should deploy adequate infrastructure, physical assets and amenities, which are adequate water, sanitation, power supply, road network, and information and communication technology among other things. The UN report states that environmentally sustainable cities are likely to be more productive, competitive, innovative and prosperous enough to provide better preservation for the environment and enhance the quality of life.


- Sunday Standard


Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp