Case Study: The Indian Ministry Of Urban Development

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Workshop on the Funding and Management of Municipal Water Utilities with Special Reference to the Scottish Water Approach

This workshop was requested by the Minister himself, was conducted by the Chairman of CBS and the Managing Director of Scottish Water’s International Division and attended by 30 senior Ministry and Municipal officers and engineers.

The workshop aimed to do two things;

  • Create a consensus around WHAT needs to be done to overcome the obstacles to creating highly effective deliverers of water resources in India.  This required identifying the critical success factors from Indian and international initiatives in the water sector.  This required much more than listening to presentations, that is, simply focusing on awareness creation in a seminar.  It required discussion in small groups and learning and testing of ideas by the key players involved.  Even this is not enough.  We also needed to;

What needs to be DONE to overcome the obstacles to delivery of water resources in India – what are the critical success factors?

  • Focus on HOW to deliver first class service delivery to the community.  We need to address the issue of how organisations and individuals develop the capacity to implement the changes necessary to achieve service excellence.   Implementation capability is the key to capacity building.  Our aim was to create a consensus around WHAT had to be done within specific ULBs (Urban Local Bodies) chosen to be pilot projects and HOW the necessary changes could be implemented through an action plan agreed on day 2 of the workshop.

Does the Ministry have the implementation capability to deliver first class services to the community? WHAT has to be done by the Urban Local Bodies?

The structure of the workshop was as follows;

Day 1
  • The funding and management of water organisations with special reference to PPP.
  • The Scottish Water Model.  The critical success factors.
  • Indian case studies.
  • Syndicate groups – what are the obstacles to implementation of PPP projects in India’s municipal water sector?
  • Plenary discussion.

Transferring the latest knowledge is not difficult. Getting participants to transfer the knowledge to the workplace and produce sustainable changes in working practices was the challenge. Were participants competent and committed to changing working practices? Would their bosses support the suggested changes?

Day 2
  • Review of the learning from day 1
  • Key measure of success for Scotland and India.
  • Selection of optimum model for India to meet success criteria.
  • How should the private sector be involved?
  • The extent to which private funding should be involved.
  • What is meant by capacity building and how it can be achieved?
  • What organisational changes need to be made?
  • What are the skills needed by the ULB officers to achieve excellent service delivery?
  • Creating mutual understanding between the public and private sectors.
  • Syndicate groups.
      Prepare an action plan for creating pilot programmes.
      How should ULBs be structured? Should they be corporatised?
      How should new projects be funded? Role of PPP. Who should take the revenue collection risk? What PPP model fits best with the private sector's objectives? How can the private sector's performance be measured in meeting their objectives? How should old assets be operated and maintained? Role of PPP.
      How to get political support and citizen participation.
      What should be done to implement capacity building skills in the ULBs at the institutional and individual levels.
      What has been the learning from the groups in terms of team effectiveness and how this can be transferred to the workplace.
  • Plenary discussions and presentation to the Minister.


According to the participants, this workshop was highly successful in spite of the interactive design being very different to the experiences of the participants.  The process adopted in the workshop was described as;

  • Highly interactive; each session included knowledge transfer from Indian and international practitioners; extensive question and answer sessions and facilitated discussion groups, to analyse and understand what the participants heard, and what it meant for Indian best practice. These discussions posed the following questions:
      i. Was the international best practice presented in the workshop appropriate to the Indian situation?
      ii. Was there a gap between international best practice and current Indian practice?
      iii. If so, identify precisely what the gap is, why it exists and what has to change to close the gap;
      iv. If the gap involves some particular Indian context and conditions – can they, or can they not, be changed or modified? Are these differences necessary or a hindrance?
      v. What actions can be taken to modify those aspects which are intractable in India (eg full recovery of the cost of investment in water infrastructure)?
  • Groups then discussed Action Plans to close the gap, with specific reference to specific changes in working practices, processes and individual and team behaviour required.
  • Syndicate groups also reflected on how they operated as a high performing team and how, individually, they contributed to the effective operation of the group.  Each group defined how their learning could be transferred to group meetings in their ‘back home’ situation.
  • The last session brought together the lessons learnt and the recommendations identified to generate an Action Plan for implementation which was presented to the Minister at the end of the last day.

The workshop was designed to increase the knowledge of the participants and to attempt to get them to commit to implementing, in their workplace, the action plans defined by their syndicate groups.  The transfer of knowledge was successful as was the definition of action plans.  The implementation of the action plans was the responsibility of the individual and their ability and willingness to introduce the changes required.  We stressed this point repeatedly in the workshop.  Whether any of these plans were implemented could not be determined by the faculty because no follow up sessions were budgeted for. However, we left the participants with the question;

      Do you and your Ministry have the implementation capability to deliver first class services to the community? WHAT has to be done by the Urban Local Bodies?

In addition, we left the participants with the following tasks;

  • Discuss the main points of learning from the workshop with their bosses, their own management teams and the teams they as individuals were part of.
  • Document their answers to the syndicate group questions and those raised under results above and to apply their answers to their own working situations.
  • Define what they were going to do personally within the conclusions and learning from the workshop.
  • Be aware that treating the workshop as simply increasing their personal 'awareness' of the issues would be to miss a unique opportunity to take initiatives to put into practice the learning from the workshop.