Civic innovation for inclusive local governance in Punjab ft. Harpreet Singh Arora

Can traditional governance adapt to contemporary challenges?

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Can traditional governance adapt to contemporary challenges? 

Harpreet Singh Arora’s work in Punjab, through The/Nudge Indian Administrative Fellowship, provides a fascinating example of civic innovation that can transform governance. By focusing on fiscal reforms and sustainability, Harpreet is helping to transform urban areas into models of efficiency and innovation. Read about his strategies to enhance local governance and ensure a cooler, greener, and more resilient future for urban Punjab. 

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  1. Civic innovation for inclusive local governance in Punjab

Sometimes, a career switch is more than just swapping desks, it also signifies an important milestone in one’s personal and professional life. For Harpreet Singh Arora, such a transition brought a profound shift in perspective and a move towards social impact and governance reform. Here is his journey:

Harpreet’s experience with The/Nudge Indian Administrative Fellowship (IAF) exemplifies how seasoned professionals can steer significant public sector enhancements. Unlike conventional career paths that plateau or circulate within industry silos, the IAF offers a unique vantage from the intersection of government administration and public welfare. Reflecting on his career pivot, Harpreet sees his move into governance as a win-win: “The infusion of private sector expertise into public initiatives brings fresh perspectives and innovative solutions to complex challenges, while public sector engagement ensures accountability, inclusivity, and sustainability in governance efforts.”

Diving into his new role, Harpreet works closely from within the system to better the process of framing public policies and delivering approaches for the benefit of communities. One of the interventions he worked on was tackling climate change impact caused by depleting green cover causing urban heat islands and rising surface temperature in municipal areas within Jalandhar and Ludhiana. “Under the initiative on urban greening, cities in Punjab piloted GIS-based surface heat mapping to identify heat stress zones and conducted strategic plantations using mobile-based geotagging to monitor future growth. This led to the plantation of  3,00,000 indigenous trees that would eventually decrease the surface temperature in the next few years”, he says. 

Harpreet has also been busy tuning the engines of municipal governance, making sure money flows right to keep towns and cities evolving. He has worked on reforms to enhance fiscal resilience and strengthen financial management in urban local bodies. Aimed at unlocking performance grants under federal fiscal devolution reform programs and multilateral PforR programmes, these reforms drive systemic change right from the grassroots.

Harpreet’s journey isn’t just about changing careers but changing gears in how we think about civic engagement and development. Reflecting on his professional and personal growth through the fellowship, Harpreet believes that he now has a nuanced understanding of public financial decision-making and adapting that to diverse socio-economic contexts. He acknowledges the challenges of technology adoption and capacity-building within public systems and emphasises the need for tailored governance reform approaches.

As he looks toward the future, Harpreet is committed to continuing his work in driving systemic change and fostering inclusive development. His journey underscores the value of thematic career transitions and the power of collaborative efforts in driving meaningful societal impact.

Through Harpreet’s story, the transformative power of The/Nudge Indian Administrative Fellowship is evident, not just in shaping careers but in redefining the landscape of public administration and governance.

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