The Challenge of Sustainable Cities: the Nature of Rural-Urban Transitions and Implications for Inclusion in China and India

  • 26 Feb 2018

    Dr. Shailaja Fennell

    Venue: Seminar Room, ICS
    Time: 2:30 PM

About the Speaker


Shailaja Fennell is Director of Research at Cambridge Central Asia Forum and a University Lecturer in Development Studies, and a Fellow of Jesus College at the University of Cambridge. Shailaja was appointed Visiting Professor at the Kazakh National University in Almaty in 2008 and conferred an Honorary Professorship by the A. Yasawi Kazakh-Turkic University in November 2009.  She was awarded her degrees of BA, MA and MPhil in Economics from the University of Delhi, and then went on to read for her MPhil and PhD at the Faculty of Economics and Politics, University of Cambridge. Her doctoral research was on long-term agricultural trends in India and China. Shailaja has been researching the linkages between rural development, environmental and educational strategies in India, China and Central Asia since 2004. She has specialised in the sub-fields of institutional reform, rural development, gender and household dynamics, kinship and ethnicity, and educational provision. Her recent publications include Rules, Rubrics and Riches: The Relationship between Legal Reform, Institutional Change and International Development (Routledge 2010), Gender Education and Development: Conceptual Frameworks, Engagements and Agendas (Routledge 2008) edited with M. Arnot. She is currently completing a book titled Grains and Gains: the Political Economy of Agriculture in China and India (Sage 2012) and working on a manuscript currently titled Development in Transition: lessons from Central Asia. 



Cities are powerful places, but powerful places can also be very unequal places. It increases the inequality between the haves and the have-nots. If the world continues to grow, the challenges for China and India will be how to get these large numbers of new city dwellers accommodated.  A particular challenge for young people is to acquire a skill set that allows them to access employment, particularly if they move to a city to look for better prospects for employment. Recent international research tells us that the increasing move from rural to urban as countries reach the urban tipping point (of more that 50 percent urban populations) means a challenge for jobs. China is now moving towards providing the children of migrant populations an education in the urban areas, yet there remain challenges in relation to the variation in the quality of education between migrant and non-migrant populations. In cities such as Beijing and Shanghai, there are great contrasts between the top schools and bottom schools for education. There are also similar challenges in Indian cities. In this presentation the speaker will be examining the current understanding of Smart Cities and the implication of employment and inclusion. The focus will be on how youth challenges in the areas of skills and employment can be addressed through the lens of sustainability in China and India.


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