Urban Planning in Vernacular Governance: Land use Planning and Violations in Bangalore, India

Jayaraj Sundaresan  | October 2017


This paper examines the relationship between urban planning practice and planning violations in Bangalore. Through ethnography of the practice of planning networks, It demonstrates that the domain of urban planning in Bangalore is shaped by the ethos and practices of mutually contesting Public and Private interest associational networks working to achieve Public and Private interest outcomes respectively. This is demonstrated using how private interest networks shape planning through plan violations and planning for violations as well as how public interest networks shape planning through multiple political, legal and administrative interventions, both of which together prevents the formation of any ideal-typical planning system for a Comprehensive Master Planning Regime. Rather than a deviation, violations are identified as the outcome of the particular kind of planning practice embedded within the political culture of democratic governance in India. Ethnographies of Indian state constantly points to the blurred boundaries between the categories of state and society in India. Findings from this research conform to this; actors from both inside and outside government rather than act to achieve the cause of their positions act in the interest of the networks within which they are associated with–public or private interest. Therefore, combining lessons from political systems and policy networks studies of the state and governance with ethnographies of the everyday state in India I propose a conceptual language of Vernacular Governance to trace the constantly changing shape of planning practice in Bangalore through its relationship with planning violations. This paper attempts to raise questions on theorising planning practices as embedded within the political culture of particular contexts, rather than taking for granted dualist conceptualisations of state and society producing on the one hand theorisations of planning failures and on the other, informality, implementation failure and corruption.