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Gearing up for greater urbanisation in India

Aug 20, 2015

Greater urbanisation in the country comes with an enhanced need for more urban planners.

New Delhi: India has been slow to urbanise in comparison to other countries. However, reports such as the 2010 McKinsey’s report titled India’s Urban Awakening, estimate that urbanisation will rapidly escalate and urban India will house nearly 40% of our population and generate nearly 70 percent of India’s GDP by 2030.

It is thus imperative that such urbanization be facilitated in order to engage in further economic development. The scale of challenge of Indian urbanisation is complex and multidisplinary.

Till now, major tools for town planning and implementation, traditionally have been master plan, land use planning, transfer of development rights, Land pooling, Accomodation Reservation, Town Planning Schemes, Public Private Partnerships, and now IT based Smart Cities, Knowledge Cities, Freight Corridors, Industrial Corridors, and policies such as JNNURM, Urban Infrastructure Development Scheme for Small and Medium Towns (UIDSSMT).

To address the challenges of Indian urbanisation, according to the Ministry of Human Development, Government of India, in 2011 about 6000 undergraduate planners join the field every year.

However, according to ITPI (2015), India that has only a handful of planning schools and has only produced 4,500 qualified town and country planners, till date. Thus one town planner has to cater to 2,68,931 people. The fact that only 30% of Indian towns have master plans shows that there is a dire need for urban planners.

To address this need, BPlan of SPA was the first programme started in 1980, and was closely followed by Guru Ram Das School of Planning and Architecture, GNDU, Amritsar, and Department of Urban and Regional Planning, Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, Hyderabad, etc and in 1990 School of Planning and Architecture in Bhopal and Vijayawada.

There has been a mushrooming of undergrad planning programmes since then in the private sector as well, at colleges/ universities including Sushant, UPES, Dehradun, Amity-NOIDA, Manesar, and College of Engineering, Pune, etc. This makes the number of planning schools at around 12-14, but we are still producing only 300-500 planners per year, as against the stated need of 6000 planners per year.

There is a huge gap between demand and supply for professional planners at the undergrad level.

One of the major problems with planning in India why demand is unable to meet gap is the interlinkage between education and industry needs and employment.

Despite the fact that undergrads have made great strides in sectors including real estate, transportation and infrastructure planning, social and international development planning in India and abroad, there is not much linkage between education and industry, leading to problems of grads, especially, from new planning schools leading them to struggle with placements and monetary returns, and for industry to gain skilled labour.

Another issue has been the non recognition of BPlan degree for government jobs in India, and such jobs being undertaken by Architecture and Civil Engineering undergrads with Planning Masters and now MBAs who do not have enough planning expertise to deliver to the country’s needs.

Thus, the major task ahead of planning schools is not only in creating planners but also strengthen academia-industry linkages, so that both can benefit.

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