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Albert Hirschman Centre on Democracy

Mapping spaces of local democracy in India: Practices of participation in the 2014-2034 Mumbai Development Plan

  • Project Leads: Amita Bhide, Christine Lutringer and Luca Pattaroni
  • Keywords: Local democracy, Urban development, Civil society, Urban planning,
  • Partners: Laboratoire de Sociologie Urbaine EPFL, Lausanne and Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS), Mumbai



Focusing on spaces of democratic participation in local governance, this project explores the engagement of citizens in elected urban municipal bodies in India. Taking advantage of the data on conflicting visions of participation in the course of the controversy around the Mumbai Development Plan 2014-2034, we will examine the ways in which the discourse on democratic engagement was produced and circulated. We will follow organisational procedures and processes pertaining to city planning linking them to the activities of various civic organisations and to the dynamics of democratic engagement. In turn, the use of claimed spaces for local democracy will be mapped according to the type of actors and the arenas in which the claims were developed. Analysing the controversy provides the opportunity to understand the challenges of effective participation and democratic engagement at the local level in Mumbai. The wider objective is to use the Indian material to raise questions about assumptions in the literature on local democracy, and to reflect on how these may need reconsideration in view of the experiences from the global South.

This project, which lies at the crossroads of sociology, political science and political economy, follows up on a FLASH grant by the Swiss State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation - SERI. It is carried out by an interdisciplinary team from the Graduate Institute, Geneva, EPFL, Lausanne and Tata Institute of Social Sciences (TISS) in Mumbai.