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Unusual Viewpoints

Snehanshu Mukherjee

Edited by Evelin Hust and Michael Mann
Manohar Publishers, Delhi , A Publication of the French Research Institutes in India & South Asia Institute,, 2005, pp. 344, Rs. 995.00

VOLUME XXX NUMBER 1-2 January-February 2006

The book reviewed is a publication of the French Research Institutes in India & South Asia Institute, New Delhi. The contents of the book are therefore the work of various researchers – compiled and edited by Evelin Hust and Michael Mann, both senior scholars based in Germany. Both the editors have had a long association in conducting research in the South Asia region with a special emphasis on development issues in India. The first chapter, Problems of Urbanization and Urban Governance in India by Evelin Hust is well written and introduces the three sections and their contents economically. The introduction also fulfills the task of setting forth the overall premise of the book which presents the reader with a brief history of planned urban development together with the reality on the ground. This brief overview raises one’s expectations of further elaboration of the many pertinent issues and themes in the body of the book. The above point can be further illustrated through the following quote from the Introduction: There is still a lack of proof that the private sector is always better equipped to fulfil the requirements of urban governance, especially when it comes to sustainable and equitable service delivery in a social setting that is marked by great spatial and social inequalities.   The issue raised is indeed a topical one and is capable of sparking debates in any seminar on urban issues. However the chapters that follow do not help the reader to arrive at any clear conclusions on this issue. In each of the four chapters that make up the three sections of the book, the various authors have based their papers on matter drawn from secondary sources that have already been published as books, or from research papers by other scholars. In a few of the cases the authors have written their chapters based on their own primary data collection. However, irrespective of the source of data collection, the book on the whole, barring a few of the chapters, does not bring to light any new thought or analysis on the different aspects of urban conditions or governance. The extensive referencing of sources in each of the chapters however gives the book a useful function of serving as a wonderful source book or course reader on Urban Governance.   The three sections that the contents of the book are structured under are namely: The Framework – Environment, Decentralization, Liberalization and ...

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