India is emerging as the site of perhaps the largest urban transition that will unfold over the next two to three decades, which is projected to add 300 million more urban residents by 2050. This transition will bring not just opportunities through increased economic growth and employment but also challenges as cities will continue to deal with inequality, deprivation and environmental degradation.
Converting these challenges into opportunities will need collective and coordinated eﬀorts by governments, private enterprises, civil society, communities, and citizens. The Government of India has begun to acknowledge the enormity of this challenge through the launch of programmes such as JnNURM and RAY in the early 2000s and more recently with AMRUT, the Smart Cities Mission, PMAY, HRIDAY and Swachh Bharat. In parallel, there has also been a signiﬁcant increase in private sector activity in the infrastructure, housing and real estate sectors over the last decade and a half. This is taking place alongside an increase in household, informal sector enterprise and civil society participation that is transforming our cities, towns and villages at an increasing pace.
India’s emerging urban transition needs a new generation of urban practitioners with adequate knowledge, reﬂective thinking, appropriate skills, new perspectives, and the right values. Current education takes place in disciplinary silos like planning, design, technology, management, economics, humanities, legal and urban studies education, and is unable to creatively respond to these challenges. More than technology or capital, the real and urgent obstacle to transforming urban India lies in the inability of our education system to produce urban practitioners who can enable the integration, management and coordination of these disparate processes occurring in today’s urban and urbanising settlements.
The Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS) is a national education institution that has undertaken to develop and teach original, innovative, and reﬂective knowledge about our urban transition that will integrate methods and approaches across disciplinary and practice traditions. The Urban Fellows Programme (UFP) is one of our ﬂagship programmes, seeking to equip, nurture and prepare a new generation of graduates and young professionals committed to the common good, who can become change-makers, entrepreneurs and thought leaders to address India’s complex urban challenges.