Featured case: Making Ahmedabad Slum-Free

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The case


Ms. Sara, Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation Commissioner (AMC).

Please note that the positions and organisation are factually correct but the names of the protagonist, supporting characters and some of the events are fictional.


The AMC is responsible for the civic infrastructure and administration of Ahmedabad.


Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi promised that by 2022 everyone would have a home and there would be no slums in India, as part of the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana programme.

The initiative required cities to prepare a “Housing for All Plan of Action”, with Ms. Sara in charge of the Ahmedabad project.


Modi became Prime Minister after winning the 2014 elections.

Ms. Sara met with several city officials, academics and members of civil society in February 2015, hoping to form a plan of action.


Ahmedabad is currently the sixth largest city in India with a population of approximately 5.5 million people, and is based in the western state of Gujarat.

Being a regional hub, Ahmedabad attracts many migrants from the rural hinterlands of Gujarat and neighbouring states.

Key quote

“I beg your pardon Ms. Sara but I must insist that you please do not refer to slums as a problem. I think it is a solution for those who cannot afford extremely high prices of formal housing.” – academic Dr. Mahadev responds to Ms. Sara’s opening statement at a tense meeting.

What next?

Ms. Sara needed to come up with a plan to make Ahmedabad slum-free by 2022, and sent the stakeholders away to find solutions to present at the next meeting.

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Making Ahmedabad Slum-Free
Ref 218-0015-1
Teaching note
Ref 218-0015-8

The author

Amit Patel

Amit discusses being a first-time case writer, the challenges he faced and the help of a scholarship.

Challenges slums present

Amit explained: “There are about one in three urban residents worldwide that live in slums today, most of them in cities of the global South. Despite several planning and policy interventions in the last seven decades or so, the challenge of slums persists.

Challenges slums present“For more than a decade now, my research has focused on slum communities in Ahmedabad. I have learned a lot and gained immense insights from slum communities, scholars, and practitioners that work on this issue in Ahmedabad.

“This was my very first teaching case and I thought that I should write about a topic that I am most interested in, and on the issue that I most care about. This case builds on a decade of my research in Ahmedabad and turns it into a tool for education that is relevant for many cities around the world.”

The need for more urban planning cases

Amit said: “I believe that both in urban planning and public policy professions, decision-makers face enormous uncertainty about the consequences of their decisions, they lack sufficient data to make an informed decision, and they still have to decide in a time bound manner on various planning and policy matters on behalf of multiple stakeholders.

“And still, curricula in most urban planning and public policy programmes do not train graduates by putting students in the shoes of a decision-maker, a role that they must assume when they begin their career in planning or policy professions. This is partly due to the lack of a sufficient number of cases pertaining to planning and policy issues, and more importantly, the lack of an eco-system of case writers and educators that could create cases from their research they are already doing and use them in their courses.”

Scholarship help

Amit added: “I would not have written my first case without the Case Writing Scholarship from The Case Centre. It both motivated and enabled me to write this case.

“The Scholarship provided me the means to travel to India and conduct several interviews that were used to formulate arguments in this case.

“It also provided reviews from two anonymous reviewers. Comments from them were extremely useful in rewriting this case, particularly making it accessible to the audience in the US where I teach. I added several photographs of slums and new resources in my teaching note that my students in the US now appreciate.”

puzzling processPuzzling process

Amit concluded: “It was very hard to turn my research upside down and create a puzzle that someone can then solve to reach to the same level of understanding that I had from my research. It was like constructing a crossword puzzle from a solution that is known to you, but you can only indirectly reveal it by providing keys. It should be both solvable with reasonable effort and rewarding at the end.

“Just like in any educational setting, it was also challenging to visualise the needs of uninitiated students, and create a list of resources that should accompany this case.

“With several iterations in the classroom, multiple rewrites of this case, and with comments from several colleagues, I think it is in a good shape but boy, it was quite a journey for a first-time case writer!”

About the author

Amit Patel is Assistant Professor, Department of Public Policy and Public Affairs at the University of Massachusetts Boston.
e Amit.Patel@umb.edu


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