June 2017 will mark the two year anniversary of the Smart City Mission (SCM), one of the flagship projects undertaken by the Government of India (GOI) towards urban development. The mission has generated extensive interest with a clear disjunction in opinions regarding the potential effectiveness of the mission in achieving its stated goal of creating ‘replicable models’ of urban development that can inspire change across cities in India. Given the scale and significance of the mission, it could create long term changes in the governance and financing patterns of urban India and affect the quality of life of millions of citizens.
A unique aspect of the Mission is the ambiguity of what constitutes a smart city. The Ministry of Urban Development (MoUD) has clearly stated that there is no singular definition of a smart city and provided each city the opportunity to define ‘smartness’ for themselves. The result has been a mix of ideas which include both high-end digital and more established traditional solutions to tackle gaps in urban form and quality of life. Through an analysis of the accepted smart city proposals and ancillary secondary data, this discussion seeks to present an empirical understanding of what India thinks a smart city looks like and examine the potential of achieving its aims of creating more liveable, sustainable and financially secure cities.
Ashwathy Anand is a trained architect from the School of Planning and Architecture, Bhopal and is currently associated with the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi. As a practitioner she has worked on the City Heritage Plan for Mathura under the Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY). Her academic research interests focus on understanding the processes involved in transforming and regenerating Indian cities. She was an Urban Fellow at IIHS Bangalore.
Ajai Sreevatsan is a former investigative reporter with The Hindu and is currently associated with the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi. As a journalist, his primary interest lay in questions pertaining to urban inequality, local democracy and participative governance. He has also written extensively on environmental issues. Till recently, he was an urban fellow at IIHS, Bangalore. He has an M.S. in Journalism from Northwestern University.
Persis Taraporevala is a Research Associate at the Centre for Policy Research, New Delhi. She focuses on issues of citizenship, governance and social justice in the urban context. Her work includes the privatisation of government structures in India, participatory processes of planning and the agency of immigrants in urban villages. She has an MPhil in Development Studies from the University of Oxford.
This is the eighty ninth in a series of Urban Workshops planned by the Centre de Sciences Humaines (CSH), New Delhi and Centre for Policy Research (CPR). These workshops seek to provoke public discussion on issues relating to the development of the city and try to address all its facets including its administration, culture, economy, society and politics. For further information, please contact: Christine Ithurbide at firstname.lastname@example.org, Partha Mukhopadhyay at email@example.com or Marie-Hélène Zerah at firstname.lastname@example.org