According to the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Global Liveability Index 2019, New Delhi and Mumbai rank 118th and 119th out of 140 cities in the world. Vienna in Austria, Melbourne and Sydney in Australia make the top three cities while Damascus in Syria, Lagos in Nigeria and Dhaka in Bangladesh rank in the bottom and the two Indian cities were also found place close to the bottom. The index assesses which locations around the world provide the best or the worst living conditions. Each factor in a city is rated as acceptable, tolerable, uncomfortable, undesirable or intolerable.
The only consolation Indian cities might get is in the fact that none of US cities made it to the top ten. Still they figure much ahead of Indian cities in the list. Of the 37 Asian and Australasian cities included in the index, five are among the ten most liveable and six are among the 20 least liveable. While the national capital registered the biggest decline in Asia, Mumbai also fell two places since last year to rank 119th on the list. While New Delhi has been given an overall score of 56.3, Mumbai has got 56.2, while top-ranked Vienna has scored 99.1 and least-ranked Damascus (Syria) has got 30.7 points.
EIU said decline in Mumbai’s rank was mainly due to a downgrade in its culture score, while New Delhi has fallen in the index because of downgrades to its culture and environment score as well as fall in the stability score owing to rising crime rates.
According to the report deterioration in culture and environment scores is of concern including the quality of air in cities like New Delhi. The 2018 update to the World Health Organisation (WHO) Global Ambient Air Quality Database shows that New Delhi currently boasts the sixth highest annual mean concentration of fine particulate matter among cities around the world. New Delhi joins the list of a slew of cities in emerging market which are impacted by appalling air quality. In fact, the effects of climate change have seen their scores downgraded. It’s not just on environment front where our performance has remained poor but we scored badly in controlling crime too. The Indian capital has seen an increase in petty crime cases over the past year, as well as recording some of the world’s worst air quality levels.
It’s not that our record in ensuring safety and security for the people was much better but what is more concerning is that its deteriorating over the years.
It should be noted that a score between 50-60 points, which is the case for India, indicates constrained liveability conditions. While the government has been giving greater push to education and healthcare, the cities are showing opposite trend meaning there is last mile delivery problem in these social welfare measures. Above all, these cities are under constant threat from an increasingly adverse climate.
In other words, we have to cover a lot of ground to ensure that our cities move upwards substantially in liveability index in the coming years. Efforts and seriousness which our government has taken in ensuring that India moves up in Index of doing business needs to be repeated in liveability index too. Otherwise it would be impossible to attract global talents into the country.
Our smart city mission lays too much emphasis on technology and urban infrastructure and as a result we are bound to fare poorly on rest of the fronts. We need to lay equal emphasis on quality of life too as it will also lead to better efficiency of labour.