The Indian Institute for Human Settlements (IIHS) is a national education institution committed to the equitable, sustainable and efficient transformation of Indian settlements. IIHS is India’s first prospective independently funded and managed inter-disciplinary National University for Research and Innovation that focuses on its ongoing urban and development transformation. It is a first-of-its-kind, practice and innovation-oriented knowledge institution that seeks to bridge the conventional excellence, scale and inclusion divide.
India’s urban population is expected to increase from a little under 350 million in 2011 to about 800 million by the middle of the 21st Century, an increase of an astonishing 500 million persons. At this point, urban India will account for more than half of the country’s population. Nearly two-thirds of India’s economic output already comes from urban areas. India will thus make a historic transition from a largely rural and agrarian society to one that is predominantly urban.
This will be more than just an economic transition: it will result in the transformation of Indian society, its culture, its politics, and the country’s natural and built environment. At the same time, it will also place an enormous strain on existing urban centres and the many new ones that will come into existence.
Historically, urban settlements have been the cradles of civilisation and culture, environments in which a multitude of intellectual, economic and social activities have flourished. For these many pursuits to thrive in the India of the 21st century, we need settlements that work efficiently, are sustainable and provide access to work, services and security to all its citizens along with the social and cultural space needed for full human development and expression.
The future of India will hinge on urbanisation challenges being handled with the wisdom and alacrity needed to deal with over 1.5 billion people and create a more equitable, inclusive, sustainable, secure and prosperous nation.
A fundamental constraint to the orderly growth and transformation of urban and rural India is neither capital nor perhaps technology. The chief impediment is the availability of sufficient numbers of well educated professionals committed to the common good who can play the role of change-makers and entrepreneurs.
Unfortunately, India’s higher education system and many others across the world have no professional programmes built around interdisciplinary skills or the scale needed to educate enough learners for the satisfactory planning, development and management of India’s cities, towns and villages.
The IIHS, was incorporated as a not-for-profit company, to address this multi-dimensional and interdisciplinary challenge so that the country can respond with wise and timely solutions.
IIHS will host an integrated and globally linked programme of quality campus based education and research, practical training for working professionals, distance and blended learning and an array of consultancy services. IIHS will have a strong interdisciplinary orientation, incorporating both theory and praxis.
The IIHS interdisciplinary Masters and Undergraduate programmes will provide a deep understanding of a range of topics including economic drivers of urbanisation, urban planning, physical infrastructure, transportation systems, social infrastructure and social justice, land and housing, public safety and disaster management, environment and sustainability, and urban governance. Taken together this is expected to create, train and educate a new discipline and profession of urban practitioners.
The historical transition of India from a rural to a predominantly urban society will take place after surmounting several challenges. This will require new thinking, perspectives and approaches and be embedded in new forms of action and institutions. This demands a mix of local, regional and national ‘innovation, – thinking and working creatively; harnessing traditional and new forms of knowledge, institutions and technologies to create sustainable, equitable and inclusive processes and systems that are universally accessible.
India will experience the second largest urban transformation in history over the next 50 year, involving approximately 5 mega-urban regions, 70+ million cities, 10 to 20,000 other cities and towns and over 0.5 million villages across a diverse sub-continental landscape. This is a unique opportunity to deepen democracy, enable sustainability and social inclusion, build the largest integrated national market of the 21st century and end poverty and vulnerability – each requiring systematic and systemic innovation.
This is the mandate of the global academic, research and practitioners team at IIHS to educate close to 1,00,000 learners on campus over a generation and many times more early and mid-career professionals as innovators, entrepreneurs and change agents.