This summer 32 urban researchers from all across India came together as part of a week-long intensive workshop to bridge the gap between urban theory and practice and help India in its quest to make cities more liveable, sustainable and smart.

India’s changing urban landscape is becoming increasingly unequal. Are urban researchers ready to respond? Critics often question whether the country has urban academics, planners and designers primed with suitable skills, knowledge and experience to handle the complex and dynamic challenges of its growing cities.

This training workshop, co-hosted by the National Institute of Urban Affairs (NIUA) and, Jawaharlal Nehru University was designed with the sole aim of responding to critics and making sure India’s urban academia can respond, yes, our country has sound theoretical and practical expertise to support sustainable, smart and healthy cities.

Professor Debolina Kundu, Professor,  NIUA, said:

“Continuous skill building based on lived realities of Indian city expansion will yield big dividends when it comes to the development of well-informed urban development policies. Too often urban curricula is sporadic in its attempt to build skills beyond urban theory and therefore our graduates are simply not prepared to tackle everyday urban challenges. By nuturing practical and policy relevant skills of our early career researchers now, India’s urban policy and practitioners will reap the benefit of a highly knowledgeable and holistic urban workforce ready to tackle growing urban challenges.”

Vasundhara Rohtak, an early career researcher from Maharishi Dayanand University, said:

“I really enjoyed my time at the workshop. Not only did I grow and learn from my fellow attendees, I got the chance to learn from well-respected practitioners and scholars with different backgrounds and knowledge of what it is like to work in urban planning and policy. I have a lot to learn, but I now feel a lot more confident that the skills and knowledge I am growing will help me to build on my knowledge academic theory and put urban theory in practice."

Capacity-strengthening workshop, Delhi, India.
Capacity-strengthening workshop, Delhi, India. Image credit: NIUA.

Workshop attendees had the opportunity to attend a wide variety of sessions, including migration and labour mobility, climate resilience, blockchain and trust in smart cities, urban land management, infrastructure financing   as well as ‘softer’, but just as important, skills based training around conflict management and negotiation skills.

Suvamoy Pramanik an early career researcher from CSRD, Jawaharlal Nehru University, said:

“The workshop attempted to touch on almost all related realms of the urban sector which was really wonderful. The experts invited  were a balance  mix of Academicians and Practitioners and were extremely knowledgeable”

Sidd Pankaj Joshi, an early career researcher from CRDF, CEPT University, said:

“The sessions like 'New Urban Agenda' and 'National Policy Framework' were very important . All the other sessions were very interactive and covered multi-dimensional aspects of contemporary urban issues”

This project was funded by SHLC’s Capacity Development Acceleration Fund (CDAF), which aims to strengthen capacity to understand and address urban, health and education challenges across Africa and Asia. SHLC is funded by UK Research and Innovation and the Economic and Social Research Council as part of the UK Government’s Global Challenges Research Fund.