source - janpratinidhi
In the Union budget 2014-15, the first step was taken towards giving shape to Narendra Modi’s vision of developing hundred smart cities in India. This was one of the agendas in BJP’s election manifesto and the Finance Minister Arun Jaitley, by announcing Rs,7060 crore for the same has elicited several opinions about PM Modi’s pet project.
First of all what exactly is a smart city? There are no set parameters to define a smart city. Broadly speaking it is a city where latest information and communication technologies are used to provide better facilities to the citizens improving the overall quality of life and standard of living of the people of the city.
Such smart cities which are so technologically advanced are far far away from the reality of our country. Cities like Singapore, Hong Kong, Paris, New York and various others around the globe seem like another world to us, Indians.
We are inhabitants of a country where the election promises still continue to be ‘bijli’ (electricity), ‘pani’(water), ‘sadak’(roads) and other such basic amenities which the people of such developed countries where these smart cities exist take for granted. With scores of people struggling to make ends meet, with countless numbers standing in queues to fill a bucket of water, with sultry nights spent in wiping away sweat and protecting oneself from life threatening mosquito bites due to recurring electricity failures, with everyday arguments and fights over car parking, with water logged roads in an hour’s downpour, with women being raped in moving buses and killed in ATMs, with ever growing slums and increasing crime rate, with the continued menace of child labour and women trade, with garbage dumps in every nook and corner of the city, with unauthorized constructions and overcrowded roads, it is amazing that we can even entertain the thought of a smart city.
The people of India deserve better than hundred smart cities making life better for the already privileged. If we think even for a moment, we shall not be able to find a single city in the whole of India which does not suffer from a plethora of these problems. It is imperative that these issues should hold prime importance since they are the issues affecting every Indian living in urban India.
We cannot run before we even learn to walk. After class 1, we study in class 2 and then 3 and so on. Growth must be continuous and steady, not in erratic spurts. Countries which have promised to help India develop these smart cities are already smart countries. Their infra structural development cannot be compared to ours. We have a lot many issues that need to be resolved before the tax payers’ hard earned money is spent on impractical projects in the name of development.
More than 70% of Indian population lives in about 638,000 villages while only around 28% people live in cities. Agriculture is the mainstay of our economy and more than 60% of Indians are employed in agriculture. With insufficient rains this year, drought has been the biggest fear of the farmers. The suicide rate of farmers in the country is shocking!
And the reason for this? Even after years of independence, farmers still do not have proper irrigation facilities. They are dependent on monsoons for irrigation. If the monsoon fails, the crop also fails, leaving the farmers in a miserable state. Innumerable other problems beset our villages-insufficient power supply, lack of proper money lending facilities, hold of middle-men over poor farmers, bonded labour, inadequate medical facilities, illiteracy are just some of them.
What are the Government’s plans to put an end to all these malpractices and inadequacies to make life for our villagers more livable, more respectable? Why should the development of villages not take precedence?
If we compare our villages with those of the developed smart countries, we will be put to shame. Let us, therefore, first think in terms of building smarter villages all over India before we come to building smart cities.
This indeed is the need of the hour. This is the reality of our country. Hundred smart cities are not going to change anything in the life of an average Indian even in cities, leave alone the villages. Life of the urban poor too shall remain unchanged and the challenges of the middle class will largely continue as they are almost in the entire country.
What is the purpose of these hundred smart cities? Are we trying to prove to the world that we too have the technological prowess; that we too have arrived? It is more important first to prove to ourselves, our own people that we have even begun!
Let us not try to prove to the world that we are smart!
Let us actually become smart and the world will know it for sure!