Smarting from Cities

  • Ankur Mithal
  • India
  • May 22, 2015

The ‘plan’ for a hundred ‘smart’ cities across the country has set the dovecotes aflutter….as political announcements without substance usually do. The project has a high chance of success as nobody seems to have asked for it and nobody knows what it really means….though fights have already erupted between the ‘contenders’. Every fresh announcement on this scheme is being cheered. Despite even the definition of ‘smart’ and the criteria for selection of a city having not yet been communicated, many are already rejoicing across the length and breadth of the country. There is excited ‘chai pe charcha’ all around. Will we replicate Bangalore – by transforming an open, green, cool environment into a congested, concrete, hot one within just a decade? Will my smart city be like Gurgaon – the civic infrastructure-less miracle that straddles two millennia? Politicians and administrators are rejoicing because they will now not have to take direct or sole responsibility for the development of their cities. The deal has been made that much sweeter by the government insisting on replacing the current municipal officialdom with a professional cadre. Really? Could one ever have guessed that there was a professional municipal cadre straining at the leash, waiting to be let loose on ‘smart’ cities? Further, we are told that since ours is a rich culture that prohibits corrupting foreign influences, especially when it threatens us and our agendas, we have decided to invite Singapore, Toulouse and Tel Aviv to set up these smart cities for us. In addition, an American organisation that has the word ‘Philanthropy’ in its name has been roped in to identify the cities. Indian ‘builders’,  facing a real estate bust, are salivating at the construction ‘prospects’. Meanwhile the Central political leadership is already looking ahead. They are preparing to launch the ‘smarter’ city project soon.


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