Bengaluru 58, Indore 8. Really?

The Ease of Living Index for cities compiled and released by the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs has produced surprising and questionable results. The index has sought to rank the cities in the country on the basis of a number of parameters which are important in judging the quality of life of the residents. The quality of life in any city depends on the facilities and conveniences available there, and so the parameters relate to them. According to the index, Bengaluru is ranked 58th and Delhi 65th, while Pune takes the top spot with Navi Mumbai, Greater Mumbai, Tirupati and Chandigarh coming next in that order. The cities that come in the top 10 positions also include Raipur, Indore and Bhopal. A total of 111 cities have been ranked. It is claimed that the index shows the progress of some cities, especially the smaller ones, and the decline of some others, mainly the bigger ones, in ease of living. But the claim is not at all convincing. 

According to the report, the cities were measured on four main parameters. These were governance, social factors like access to education and health facilities, the economy, which includes job opportunities, and physical infrastructure, like waste management, electricity and water supply. There are 15 sub-categories, too. Data submitted by municipal corporations, secondary audit of documents, a physical audit and a survey of over 60,000 citizens were also reportedly carried out before the finalisation of the rankings. But the ranking lacks credibility and may not give a correct picture of the relative position of cities in the matter of ease of living. For example, the low ranking of Bengaluru cannot be easily explained. The standing of the city in terms of the fourth category — physical infrastructure -- may not be high, but it is a big magnet for youth and professionals from all over the country who flock to it for education and job opportunities. It is also difficult to believe that Delhi’s place is 109 among 111 cities in an economic sub-category. Similarly, Kochi and Thiruvananthapuram are ranked 74 and 101 in health, though Kerala has the highest human development index in the country. 

What is equally inexplicable is that cities in Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh, which are among the country’s most backward states, find themselves among the top10 liveable cities in India. The explanation could only be that they are headed for assembly elections in the near future and the BJP governments there will face strong anti-incumbency sentiments. But indices are like labels. Wrong labels do not change the nature and quality of the contents which are labelled. The Modi government should do better than that.

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Bengaluru 58, Indore 8. Really?

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