Amit Paranjape’s Blog

Wanted! A City Chief Executive

Posted in Current Affairs, Pune by Amit Paranjape on December 19, 2012

[I wrote this article for ‘The Broad Mind – Views from the Takshashila community’. Reproducing it here on my blog. Here is the link to the original article: ]


The Central and State Governments have a clear, well defined Chief Executive function. However, the picture gets a little unclear when we get down to our cities and towns.

Large cities have a Municipal Commissioner (part of the State Government), elected Corporators and a Mayor. The execution power rests with the Commissioner, who is not a direct people’s representative. The Mayor is (in most cases) a figure head, appointed from the among the Corporators. Corporators have limited power/budgets. The elected body can yield some influence via the Standing Committee, but doesn’t really have too much powers in direct execution. Long term planning activity is also led by the Commissioner.

In the bigger cities and metro areas – the structure can be even more complicated with additional state agencies such as metropolitan authorities, etc. (e.g. MMRDA in Mumbai).

I am not a constitution or law expert, but wondering if it makes sense to alter/simplify this structure – and have a single elected, accountable chief executive for the city? This model is fairly common in many democracies around the world. Look at how Michael Bloomberg is the clear Chief Executive of New York City.

A city chief executive will depend on the State (and Central) Governments for some funds and other help – but will have complete planning and execution control over the city affairs. This chief will also be directly accountable towards the city electorate.

I wonder why India went with the current dual structure of Commissioner/Mayor? I am sure there were good reasons for that…but is it time we revisited this again?


2 Responses

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  1. akkiman said, on December 19, 2012 at 5:12 pm

    I think it is a good idea. But what we could achieve simply is to install the leader of the house as the Mayor. Instead the mayors that are elected are more out of goodwill for the number of years they have served in the party. I think there is also a fixed tenure for the position of the mayor.

    Question is whether a party system in India which relies on a higher command operating at the state / centre would tolerate such an arrangement.

  2. Shankkar Aiyar said, on January 29, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    The problem is in the operating system. Voters elect representatives. This group elects a leader. Once elected he starts serving his electors rather than the voters.this is true in Pune, Mumbai or Delhi — muncipal, state or national levels. the multiplicity of agencies is a ruse used by the leader and their electors to preserve power.

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