Among Indian cities with a population of over a million, the ease of living is the highest in Bengaluru, Pune and Ahmedabad while it is the lowest in Bareilly, Dhanbad and Srinagar, according to the Ease of Living Index 2020 prepared by the ministry of housing and urban affairs. In cities with population less than a million, Shimla was ranked the highest while Muzaffarpur in Bihar was had the lowest score.
With Prime Minister Narendra Modi emphasising the ease of living, along with the ease of doing business, as a key policy priority, the rankings of cities have assumed significance in shaping government policies and determining expenditure priorities. A total of 111 cities participated in the assessment exercise that was conducted in 2020.
The first edition of the index was launched in 2018. It was based on indicators across 15 evaluation criteria, including governance, identity and culture, education, health, safety and security, economy, affordable housing, land use planning, public open spaces, transportation and mobility, assured water supply, waste-water management, solid waste management, power, and quality of environment.
The 2020 report noted that the index was born out of the need to measure the outcomes of programmes and “verify whether these interventions were effective in ushering progress in urban India”. The index is also based on metrics that “align with sustainable development goals”.
Union housing minister Hardeep Puri said, “India’s steady economic growth is reflected in the rapid expansion of her cities. India, today is one of the fastest-growing large economies in the world. With the current urbanisation rate, India is expected to have 50 percent of the country’s population residing in cities within the next 30 years.” Puri acknowledged that while rising urbanisation promises innovation and growth, it also puts “tremendous pressure on available resources”.
The ministry also drafted a report on the “Municipal Performance Index 2020” in a bid to determine elements that prevent efficient local governance in service delivery mechanisms, planning, financial systems, and governance practice.
In the million-plus category, Indore has emerged as the highest ranked municipality, followed by Surat and Bhopal while Guwahati, Kota and Srinagar ranked lowest. Among municipalities catering to a population of a less than a million, New Delhi Municipal Council has emerged as the leader, followed by Tirupati and Gandhinagar while Shillong, Imphal and Kohima municipalities were ranked lowest.
The MPI examined the sectoral performance of 114 municipalities (with Delhi being assessed separately for NDMC, and the three Municipal Corporations) across five verticals which comprise of 20 sectors and 100 indicators in all totality. The five verticals under MPI include services, finance, policy, technology and governance, the report noted.
The methodology and approach for the revised edition of EoLI and MPI were released by the ministry in February 2019. Essentially, the EoLI report aims to measure the well-being of Indian citizens in 111 cities, across the pillars of Quality of Life, Economic-ability, and Sustainability, with 49 indicators under 14 categories, the report noted. It also incorporates citizen perception of cities into the index through the Citizen Perception Survey that was conducted by the housing ministry.
“The EoLI primarily seeks to accelerate India’s urban development outcomes, including the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals. The findings from the index can help guide evidence-based policymaking. It also promotes healthy competition among cities, encouraging them to learn from their peers and advance their development trajectory,” it added.
The Citizen Perception Survey was undertaken from January 16 March 20, 2020. A total of 3.22 million citizens from 111 cities participated in the survey.