Discursive politics and policy (im)mobility: Metro-TOD policies in India

Discursive politics and policy (im)mobility: Metro-TOD policies in India

Harsh Mittal, Arpit Shah

Journal: Environment and Planning C: Politics and Space

Large investments in metro systems, supported through a Transit-Oriented Development (TOD) regime, have become the preferred policy option to achieve sustainable and inclusive urban mobility in India. In this paper, the authors examine the particular practices and power relations through which metro-TOD policies have emerged and gained discursive dominance in India’s urban transport policies. They do so by bringing together urban policy mobilities (UPM) and argumentative discourse analysis (ADA) to conceptualize (im)mobility as the intense movement of specific discursive framings to the exclusion of others. Their analysis brings out the crucial role played by Urban Mobility India (UMI), an annual conference organized by the Indian federal government, in the (im)mobility of metro-TOD policies across Indian cities. They contribute to the growing literature on the power-laden nature of policy circulation in the Global South and address concerns regarding lack of analytical attention to marginalized policy pathways and immobile elements of mobile policies in UPM literature. They argue that policy mobility scholars can move beyond the analytical binaries of mobile/immobile policies by drawing upon the concepts of ADA which allow close examination of the discursive politics at play in policy related conferences. By studying the intra-national (im)mobility of metro-TOD policies in India, they expand the bounds of UPM literature towards a geography that has received limited attention thus far.

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