Cr‘ease’s of Living

Wednesday, 19 December 2018

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Cr‘ease’s of Living

Swapnil Bharali | August 29, 2018 16:31 hrs


It seems in India, Pune is the best city to live in, while dear ol’ Guwahati is among the worst at a lowly 85th rank, according to the Ease of Living Index rankings published recently by the central government. While this is saddening from the perspective of a rabid Guwahati lover, I have good reasons to be sceptical and wonder how much these rankings truly reflect the reality of India’s urban life. While the index is arbitrary in its construction, the data used is rather questionable and often incomparable between two cities. 


The 79 indicators that the Ease of Living Index rankings are based on are essentially grouped under the heads: institutional, social, economic and physical which are called pillars. Housing, water supply and other such physical services are allotted the huge and lopsided weightage of 45% while economy and employment are together assigned a mere 5%. This lopsidedness in assigning weights obviously raises questions on the relevance of the rankings.


As for the data used, its quality can always be questioned. For example, when it comes to a living parameter like access to public toilets, it would require proper field surveys if such data is not available with the urban municipal corporations of the respective cities. And so, relying on data collected from sources that could be different for different cities automatically raises questions of reliability and comparability.

 
While I am not saying Guwahati should have been placed higher on the rankings chart given that the city is quite liveable by way of its size and existing infrastructure, placing Pune as the No. 1 city of India above all other metros, etc is laughable. Having “lived” in Pune off and on, I can vouch for the fact that had the weightage on the various parameters been realigned to bring in traffic indiscipline, police inefficiency or even access to public toilets, Pune would have been way off the radar.


The liveability index of a city is different from Ease of Living index. The latter pertains to or lays emphasis on only the physical attributes of a city – sourcing and collation of data between two such cities may not be comparable. The liveability index is all about ironing out the creases of physical living – an emotional index-- and Guwahati scores quite high here.

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