The other JNNURM: what does it mean for small towns in India?

Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) was launched to address the growing challenges of urbanization by improving infrastructure, governance and the quality of life in cities. This paper assesses all the four sub-missions under JNNURM i.e UIG and BSUP for big cities and UIDSSMT and IHSDP for small towns and cities. The analysis of all the four sub-missions of JNNURM affirms the notion of metropolitan bias that attributes greater policy attention and resources to the larger cities as compared to the small towns. The analysis proceeds to discover that a larger share of urban population resides in the small towns under UIDSSMT and IHSDP as compared to the large cities under UIG and BSUP. The paper proceeds to discuss the consequences faced by the smaller towns as a result of this bias that leads the smaller municipalities to further stagnation, leading to a higher incidence of urban poverty, poor performance in the delivery of basic services and project implementation. The paper finally attempts to emphasize the benefits of small town development that can help neighbouring villages access urban amenities, employment and eventually aid their transformation into urban centres.