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Thursday, October 25, 2007

MIT seeks ways to meet India's urban challenges


MIT (The Massachusetts Institute of Technology ) has teamed up with an Indian institution to organise an international competition for the best research paper on innovative responses to India's new urban challenges.

Part of the MIT's India Programme, the competition organised jointly with the Institute for Financial Management and Research (IFMR), Chennai, is designed to highlight usually overlooked cases of innovation and success in response to rapid urbanisation.

While the transformations in the Indian economy and polity are well documented and studied, very little work has been done in the study of institutional responses at city and state levels to challenges brought about by rapid urbanisation, MIT said.

These responses include some cities developing unconventional modes of resource generation. Some cities are succeeding in linking asset formation to asset maintenance. Others are making progress in renewing land uses in response to economic growth pressures without hurting the urban poor.

Some cities have been successful in incorporating citizen participation in decision-making without unduly delaying the implementation of projects and policies.

The competition anticipates that the crafting and implementation of new approaches will require planners who are not constrained by orthodox theories and ideological biases.

The cultivation of such a new heterodox mindset requires new teaching material for professional education, which is the ultimate purpose of this competition, MIT said.

Three best entries to the competition will get awards of Rs.100,000 (approx $2,500), Rs.75,000, and Rs.50,000.

The papers will also be published in an edited volume, which will include specially commissioned chapters written by prominent academics and practitioners.

Publication of the book will be followed by a conference, jointly organised by the Special Programme in Urban and Regional Studies (SPURS) at MIT and the Centre for Development Finance at IFMR, to disseminate the research findings.

The winners of the competition will be invited to present their work to the conference participants. Since the ultimate objective of the competition is to create new teaching material for professional education, winners of the competition will be offered the opportunity to develop their research papers into case studies appropriate for teaching purposes.

The first prize winner will be invited as a visiting fellow to MIT to present the case study in a manner suitable for inclusion on MIT's OpenCourseWare.

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