Urbanisation, Slums And Incidence Of COVID-19: Undertaking Reforms

Urbanisation, Slums and Incidence of COVID-

19: Undertaking Reforms



COVID-19 being the headliner of the year 2020, in the absence of a vaccine or medication, has engulfed the whole world. In India, though the lockdown was conceived as a response at a very early stage, the number of cases have multiplied more than 1000 times since then. Data emerging since shows that the outbreak is primarily urban and given the life conditions in the Indian urban areas in general and slums in particular, there had to be a connect between urbanisation, slums and the incidence of COVID-19. The following note first establishes the above-mentioned fact with special focus on slums. In managing the spread of the virus and taking effective measures in responding to its spread, the vulnerabilities of these ever-expanding cities/ slums have been exposed, once again emphasising the need for higher investments in public health, improvement in the state of the slums and eventual creation of affordable houses, more than ever. 

Keywords: COVID-19, Governance, Public Health Infrastructure, Slums, Urbanisation ‘More than ever before, there is a global understanding that longterm social, economic, and environmental development would be impossible without healthy families, communities and countries.’ —Gro Harlem Brundtland (GoI, 2020)


Originating from the city of Wuhan in China, SARS-COVID-19 has become a global household name over the past five months, and not
*Senior Resident Fellow, Mumbai School of Economics and Public Policy (MSE- PP), University of Mumbai.       
Email: ampethe@gmail.com
**Doctoral Candidate, Mumbai School of Economics and Public Policy (MSE-PP), University of Mumbai.        
Email: rashmis0102@gmail.com

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NAGARLOK VOL. LII, Part 3, July-September 2020

in a pleasant way. Over eight million COVID-19 cases, claiming 4,35,000 lives, have been reported globally as of June 17, 2020. Knowledge of possible devastating consequence of the pandemic and the will of the citizenry towards self-protection, not to mention a bit of political leadership, has played its part in preventing its spread to the worse (Guru, 2020). Since the pandemic apparently has covered rich and poor nations alike, it has questioned the health infrastructure of all. Even the developed nations with well-established public health facilities could not contain the outbreak and had to eventually announce a lockdown. Fortunately, India had examples to learn from the global experience. Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced a complete lockdown of the nation at nearly 350 COVID-19 positives. Despite (or because of) the lockdown, today we stand at (only) 3.5 lakh cases, mostly concentrated in highly urbanised centres of the country.

The pandemic has caught the world by and large, but especially us, unaware primarily on two fronts. Firstly, the lack of adequate public health infrastructure, and secondly, the matter of socio-economic integration of the poor, in particular slum-dwellers and migrants, in the urban system. Needless to emphasise that what lays ahead of us, as we try to emerge from COVID-19, is an ‘unimaginable economic pandemic’ (Chakraborty & Thomas, 2020). Whilst the government with the help of various task forces is trying to do the fire-fighting, in this piece we are primarily concerned with identifying what is missing and the reforms to be carried out going forward so that we are better prepared when such an eventuality comes upon us the next time around as it inevitably will. This article consists of six sections. Starting with an introduction,
the paper underlines in Section 2, the positive correlation between
urbanisation, slums and the incidence of COVID-19. Section 3 elaborates
on the plight of the marginalised slum dwellers. Section 4 describes
some challenges that lay ahead of the economy in the upcoming post-
pandemic times. Section 5 suggests a road ahead that elaborates on the
suggested vision for social sector investment in future. Finally, the last
section suggests the reformatory action plan indicating the correction
of essential institutional fundamentals in urban areas.

                                  URBANISATION AND INCIDENCE OF COVID-19
The pressing priority today is to understand the weak links in our
system not only to manage it now while it is spreading like wildfire, but
also to manage such a crisis better in future. Therefore, to review the
spread of COVID-19, it may be worthwhile to meditate upon its linkage
with urbanisation. In order to validate the aforementioned point, the
authors used a few proxies, advisedly using simple statistical tool, and

Challenges In Times Of Covid-19 Pandemic

Pandemic in simple terms is an infectious disease spreading into various regions and continents affecting large populations. World witnessed several pandemics earlier like Spanish flu which led to heavy human loss and suffering hundred years back. In recent years viruses like SARS, Ebola, Nipah, etc., have affected humans. The latest of this is Covid-19 virus belonging to SARS group.

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Keywords: Urbanisation and ecological linkages, urban bias, impact of virus

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Enhancing Citizen Engagement In Smart Cities Mission In India

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Urban Local Governments’ Response To Urbanisation And Its Impact On Municipal Finance: An Overview Of India