Janaagraha, the Bangalore-based NGO having the mission of transforming Quality of Life in urban India, has announced the launch of the Annual Survey of India’s City-Systems(ASICS).

Online PR News – 05-April-2013 – New Delhi – Janaagraha, the Bangalore-based NGO having the mission of transforming Quality of Life in urban India, has announced the launch of the Annual Survey of India’s City-Systems (ASICS). A first-ever such initiative in India, it is an objective measure of the state of City-Systems of Indian cities. City-Systems are the invisible elements relating to laws, policies, institutions and processes which together determine the Quality of Life experienced by city-residents.

The Annual Survey of India’s City-Systems (ASICS) survey was based on over a hundred parameters, across the four parts of Janaagraha’s City-Systems framework- Urban Planning and Design, Urban Capacities and Resources, Empowered and Legitimate Political Representation and Transparency, Accountability and Participation. Additionally, ‘Voice of India’s Citizens’ survey (VOICE) a segment within ASICS, has gathered citizens’ perception of quality of life and quality of city-systems in their respective cities. The VOICE trophy was awarded to the winners based on the VOICE survey! The cities covered in the inaugural edition of ASICS and VOICE are Ahmedabad, Bengaluru, Chennai, Delhi, Hyderabad, Jaipur, Kanpur, Kolkata, Mumbai, Pune and Surat.

The ASICS is advised by an eminent jury chaired by Arun Maira, Member Planning Commission. Other members of the ASICS Jury are Adi Godrej Chairman, Godrej Group, Baijayant Panda, Member of Parliament, Dr M Ramachandran, Former Secretary, Govt. of India and Ireena Vittal, Former Partner, McKinsey & Co. and Independent Director. Chief Guest at the event was Ajay Maken, Union Minister for Housing and Urban Poverty Alleviation. The ASICS event brought together global domain experts like Liu Thai Ker, Victor Vergara and David Becker, eminent legislators, senior administrators, business leaders, and civil society representatives. Ajay maken, Arun Maira and N R Narayana Murthy, Chairman Emeritus, Infosys Limited were among the speakers at the event.

Commenting on the occasion, Mrs. Swati Ramanathan, Co-Founder of Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy, said “those of us who work on urban issues know that there are deep systemic problems with how our cities are running. So far, we have been using the term ‘urban governance’ to describe these. But governance has become a buzzword, and we felt that we needed to go deeper, to peel the onion a few more layers, and talk about the specific systemic issues underpinning our cities. Janaagraha’s City-Systems framework is intended to give a definite form to our debates about urban governance. Janaagraha’s City-Systems framework has 4 themes – Urban Planning and Design; Urban Capacities and Resources; Empowered and Legitimate Elected Representatives; and Transparent, Accountable and Participatory Cities. All 4 aspects are interlinked, and if we want to fix our cities, we need to address all four.”

Ramesh Ramanthan, Co-Founder Janaagraha explained “For example, we cannot talk of solving any city’s garbage issues, without addressing the urban planning issues of where the landfill sites will be located so that no surrounding villages are affected, and environmental aspects are addressed; we also need sufficient number of qualified public health officials in the city corporation; and city corporators who are not contractors themselves; and finally, complete transparency in how garbage contracts and tenders are issued, with online daily tracking of waste expenses, along with community participation in door-to-door segregation, collection and local composting. With this City-Systems framework, we can actually measure different aspects of India’s cities, and also compare them to other cities around the world. Our belief is that unless all 4 aspects are addressed, we cannot get sustainable or scalable change in our cities”.

About Janaagraha: Janaagraha is a not for profit organization with the mission of transforming Quality of Life in India’s cities and towns. Janaagraha has worked extensively for more than a decade on urban planning, urban policy reforms and citizen participation in cities. It works with citizens and the government to improve the quality of life in Indian cities and towns. The term 'quality of life' as defined by Janaagraha has two distinct and inter-related aspects. The first 'quality of urban infrastructure and services' - the quality of urban of amenities, i.e., roads, drains, traffic ,transport, water supply, etc. The second aspect is the 'quality of citizenship' - the role that urban residents play by participating in civic issues.