Understanding Urban Governance- Exposure Program in Germany
Close to a third of India’s population lives in urban centers. With continuous internal migration from the rural areas to the cities, India needs to brace up on its infrastructure to cope with the challenges of future needs. The Regional Office of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom (FNF) organized a learning program to Germany for Indian partners working on urban governance to learn more about transparent, accountable urban governance and the administrative systems in the heart of Europe.
Seven participants from Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship and Democracy and Praja Foundation who work on governance issues in three of India’s largest cities (Mumbai, New Delhi, and Bangalore) joined the week long program. At the outset, the participants received a crash course on comparative federal structures of India and Germany and learnt about the autonomous powers of German municipalities. The Foundation provided experienced resource persons from local politics and administration and civil society with first-hand knowledge of citizen participation issues in matters of governance. The group visited Berlin, Cologne and Frankfurt and also had meetings in the smaller West German municipalities of Dueren and Aachen. Among the topics touched was the role of Germany’s municipalities in urban planning in issues such as housing, transportation and education.
The visitors from India were impressed to learn that think-tanks and foundations dealing with local autonomy affairs receive public funds in spite of their at times critical stance vis-à-vis the government. “Among the most interesting aspects was to learn of the massive reconstruction and planning efforts in Germany after the Second World War and also after the Fall of Berlin Wall”, said Dona John, FNF Program Executive, who led the delegation. “The participants admired the visionary strategy of Germany’s public administration and the level of citizen participation in urban planning,” Mrs. John told us upon her return to New Delhi.
The endeavor of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation for Freedom remains to provide global learning experiences on market economy, governance and rule of law through various regional and international visiting programs and conferences. In this framework, the visiting program to Germany was one more successful project.