Through a process of devolution to private enterprises, a number of private cities are emerging across the Indian landscape. While private cities have been lauded by some as symbolic of a modern, global India, their impact on the nature of democracy and citizenship in the emerging city remains a contentious issue.
The picturesque city of Lavasa is located in the western hill range of India between the cities of Mumbai and Pune. Lavasa is an amalgamation of twenty villages encompassing seven hills and, on completion, will have an area of 100 sq km. The city is representative of a rapidly urbanising India, with one crucial difference – there is no democratic electoral process at the city-level. Lavasa is governed by Lavasa Corporation Limited (LCL), a private enterprise. This arrangement has resulted in a unique form of governance that challenges the notions of democracy and citizenship in the Indian context.