HIDDEN SUCCESSES International Competition on India's Urbanization

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the Institute for Financial Management and Research (IFMR) organized an international competition for the best research paper on innovative institutional responses to India's new urban challenges. The purpose of this competition was to highlight cases of innovation and success in response to rapid urbanization. Additional support for this competition was provided by the MIT-India Program and the Special Program in Urban and Regional Studies (SPURS) at MIT.

Competition Background Paper

The competition was launched in September of 2007 and closed on December 31, 2007. Papers were received from all over the world. The jurors spent a considerable amount of time deliberating on the final selection of winners. We are happy to announce the winners of the competition. These four papers were singled out because they exemplified the spirit of the competition, and conveyed accurately how innovations can lead to improvements in urban service delivery even in the face of enormous challenges.

The Awards presentation is scheduled on the 25th of  June 2008 in Chennai. link

The MIT-India Program serves as an umbrella organization that brings faculty and students at MIT in to contact with their counterparts in India. Since its inception in 1998, MIT-India has built cross-border collaborations through training programs, internships and technology products.

The Institute for Financial Management and Research (IFMR) was founded in 1970 as a business school for young managers. Today, IFMR is also a leading research institution with faculty specializing in financial economics and the development of sustainable models for financing infrastructure and services.

The Special Program in Urban and Regional Studies (SPURS) was founded in 1967 within the Department of Urban Studies and Planning to bring mid-career professionals from around the world to MIT to reflect on their work. Today, SPURS is focused on bridging theory and practice by supporting empirically grounded research and by creating teaching materials based on successful planning initiatives.



IN MY BACKYARD – An Alternate Model for Solid Waste Management 

Abstract: Studies in urban public services have consistently identified solid waste management (SWM) as one of the major problems confronting cities in developing countries today. However, there is a case of exemplary practice in Pachalam, the 70th electoral Division within the Corporation of Cochin. Using both primary survey data and secondary sources, the paper argues that instead of relying on old strategies of technical solutions or privatization, the Pachalam case mobilizes institutional partnerships to adopt a multi-level localized strategy that effectively resolves the problem of SWM. 

Angelique Chettiparamb  

Dr. Angelique Chettiparamb, Cardiff University

Angelique is currently a Research Fellow at the School of City and Regional Planning, Cardiff University, UK.  She is involved in research and teaching of various aspects of planning and urban development.  Prior to this, she was working closely with urban local Government functionaries in Kerala, as Acting Head of the Centre for Urban Studies, Kerala Institute of Local Administration. She is also interested in planning theory, governance and devolution. 

Mary Chakkalakal

Mary Chakkalakkal, Jan Shikshan Sansthan

Mary is the Director of Jan Sikshan Sansthan sponsored by Ministry of Human Resource Development, Government of India. She is also Senior Consultant to Clean Kerala Mission, a mission set up by the Government of Kerala to tackle solid waste management issues of Urban and Rural Local Self Government Institutions in the state. She has been involved in the field of water, sanitation and solid waste management since 1992.

Rajan Chedambath

Dr. Rajan Chedambath, Centre for Heritage, Environment and Development, Corporation of Cochin 

Rajan is the Director of the Centre for Heritage, Environment and Development, the Research and Development wing of the City Council of Cochin in the fields of Heritage, Tourism, Culture, Environment and Urban Development. He has been associated with major projects of Cochin City Council in Kerala for the last six years including its Solid Waste management Programme.  


LOW-INCOME HOUSING IN KARNATAKA: The case of S. M. Krishna Nagar

Abstract:  Housing projects have traditionally been plagued by problems of low occupancy, design deficiencies, substandard quality of construction, political interference in implementation and poor loan recovery. This paper highlights a success – the S. M. Krishna Nagar of the Ashraya scheme of the Govt. of Karnataka, where 1,240 families were housed in affordable and quality homes. The study analyses the institutional reasons behind the relative success of the project and attempts to determine which of its aspects can be replicated, and which ones are manifestations of the unique historical and contemporary circumstances in effect at the time. 

Kapil Mohan

Kapil Mohan, Former Dy. Commissioner, Dharwad District, Karnataka

Kapil is a management graduate and a member of Indian Administrative Service. During the course of his career he has held many positions in finance, rural and urban development. He has served as Deputy Commissioner of two districts and worked at federal level. He recently completed the Masters in Public Policy (MPP) program at Princeton University and now handles the Distribution sector of the Power Ministry at the National level. 

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Rohan Mukherjee, Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi 

Rohan is a student of Public Affairs in the Woodrow Wilson School at Princeton University, currently on a one-year sabbatical at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi. He has interned with the Clinton Foundation HIV/AIDS Initiative in Lesotho and has also worked in the National Knowledge Commission, an advisory body to the Prime Minister of India. His academic interests are in international affairs and the political economy of development, particularly the impact of institutions and institutional ideologies on policy outcomes.



Abstract: This paper provides an analytical case study of an Indian NGO’s strategies for engaging city government officials in developing and refining an e‐governance system for tracking public grievances. The eGovernments Foundation developed the first version of its Public Grievance and Redressal Module based on careful study of city government and citizen needs. This paper documents their efforts to harvest city governments’ ideas as well as identify city government users who might be particularly worth following  up with over time. The activities described here are the first part of a larger initiative to involve more stakeholders, including citizens and politicians, in refining the Module.

Srikanth Nadhamuni

Srikanth Nadhamuni, EGovernments Foundation

Srikanth is a technologist and entrepreneur, having spent 14 years in the California's Silicon Valley with IT companies. He relocated to Bangalore in 2003 to co-start the eGovernments Foundation to provide Municipal eGovernance software products to improve governance and public service delivery in Indian cities. eGovernments Foundation works in over 130 cities and has created an Education Management System that improves learning and retention in government schools in 3 Indian states covering 10 million primary school children.

Jessica Wallack

Dr. Jessica Wallack, Centre for Development Finance

Jessica is Professor, Institute for Financial and Management Research, Chennai, India and Research Scholar, Global Information Industry Center, San Diego, California. Her work focuses on the factors that create successful partnerships and communications between entrepreneurs, NGOs, corporations, and governments. She was Assistant Professor at the University of California, San Diego. She holds a Ph.D. from Stanford University Graduate School of Business and a B.A. from Harvard University.



Abstract: City transport, the world over, is generally a loss making activity. Low fare structures, unidirectional flow of traffic, overstaffing, inefficiency, a lack of resources are some things that contribute to this loss. By progressively functioning with constructive planning and effective implementation, the Corporation was able to achieve a record financial position with a surplus. This paper explores the changes in management and operations style that had to be implemented to make such a transformation possible. 

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Upendra Tripathy, MD, BMTC

Upendra (IAS '80) has 27 years of experience in the Indian Adminisrative Service, working with local, provincial and federal governments. He holds an M.A. from the Jawaharlal Nehru University in New Delhi and an M.P.A. from the Carleton University Ottawa. He has worked in various departments, ranging from land administration to transportation, and has been consultant to UNCTAD. He has won many prestigious awards including Best MD 2006. 

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P.S. Sandhu, Director, BMTC

Sandhu (IPS '89) has 19 years of experience in the Indian Police Service. He worked with the UN Mission in Bosnia and Herzegovina for the International Peace Task Force on deputation from India and as Policy Planning Advisor CIVPOL at Sirra Leone. He was also a Weapon Inspector for Somalia, and a part of the task force constituted to capture the sandalwood smuggler Veerappan. He was awarded Police Medal of Gallantry in 2003 and for meritorious service in 2006. 

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D.C. Prakash, Liaison Officer, BMTC

Prakash is a post-graduate from Bangalore University in Statistics. He has served over 25 years in Karnataka State Road Transport Corporation. He was a member consultant of In-house Management Consultancy Group (IMCG). As Chief Manager (MIS & Systems) BMTC, he was associated in number of projects such  asGPS-GIS based vehicle tracking and monitoring system, depots computerization and office automation. He is presently Liaison Officer for India for International Association of Public Transport (UITP).


Professor Ralph Gakenheimer

Prof. Gakenheimer specializes in urban transportation planning, infrastructure, and urban-development planning in developing countries. He is presently Chair of the International Scientific Committee of CODATU (Collaborative on Urban Transport Improvement in the Developing World), and a Professor of Urban Planning at MIT. Previously he headed the MIT Project on Strategic Planning for the Bangkok Metropolitan Area and conducted research regarding real-estate holding companies in Middle East downtown redevelopment.

Professor Yu-Hung Hong

Yu-Hung Hong is Visiting Assistant Professor in MIT's Department of Urban Studies and Planning, and is a Fellow of the Lincoln Institute of Land Policy. He was a former Assistant Professor in the Department of Public Administration and Urban Studies at the University of Akron in Ohio, and is a recipient of a David C. Lincoln Fellowship in Land Value Taxation.

Dr. Samuel Paul

Dr. Paul taught for over two decades at the Indian Institute of Management in Ahmedabad. Since then he has served as an advisor to the World Bank on public sector reforms. More recently, Dr. Paul founded the Public Affairs Centre, which is internationally known for its pioneering work on transparency and accountability in public governance. His role in developing "citizen report cards" has been prominently featured in the Human Development Report of the UNDP and the World Development Report of the World Bank.

Professor Bishwapriya Sanyal

Prof. Sanyal is the Director of MIT's Special Program in Urban and Regional Studies (SPURS), and currently serves as Chair of the MIT Faculty. Previously he headed the Department of Urban Studies and Planning, and has taught for over twenty years on planning institutions and processes in the developing world. Trained as an Architect Planner with a doctorate from University of California at Los Angeles, Sanyal has served as a planning consultant to Ford Foundation, World Bank, International Labour Organization, United Nations Center for Human Settlements, United Nations Development Program, and the United States Agency for International Development.

Professor K. Sivaramakrishnan

Prof. Sivaramakrishnan joined the Indian Administrative Service in 1958. He served as Secretary and Chief Executive of the Calcutta Metropolitan Development Authority, and later as Secretary, Ministry of Urban Development. Following his retirement from the civil service in 1992, Prof. Sivaramakrishnan joined the World Bank as Senior Advisor, Urban Management.  He joined the Centre for Policy Research as an Honorary Visiting Professor in 1996, where he is currently analyzing case law pertaining to panchayats and urban local bodies. He has previously served as Parvin Fellow at Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University, a Visiting Professor & Homi Bhabha Fellow at the Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta, and as a Senior Lecturer at the Economic Development Institute of the World Bank.

Professor Judith Tendler

Prof. Tendler is a development economist whose interests focus on public-sector performance in developing countries, including rural development, small and medium firms, behavior of public and nonprofit organizations, income-earning initiatives, infrastructure and poverty. Tendler is Professor of Political Economy and a Class of 1960 Fellow in the Department of Urban Studies and Planning at MIT.