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Question – What are ‘Smart Cities’? Test their relevance for urban development in India. Will this lead to increased rural-urban differences? In the light of the “PURA” and “RURBAN” missions, argue for a ‘smart village’ – 18 June 2021
- About 31% of India’s current population lives in cities, and they contribute 63% of the country’s GDP (Census 2011). It is estimated that by the year 2030, 40% of India’s population will start to live in urban areas. Also, its contribution to India’s GDP will be 75%. This requires extensive development of physical, institutional, social and economic infrastructure. The development of smart city is considered to be a step in this direction. The Smart City Mission is an innovative initiative of the Government of India to accelerate economic development with the help of technology to enable local development through better outcomes for citizens, and improve the quality of life.
- The concept of smart city is not new in India. The proof of this can also be seen in the Indus Valley Civilization in the form of city building style, architecture and advanced drainage system. However, there is no clear definition of smart city, which is universally accepted. Its meaning and scope varies according to time, position and location. It depends on the level of development of a particular place, the desire for improvement and change, the resources of the city and the aspirations of the residents.
- A smart city is an urban area where the resource is efficiently managed by the use of electronic data using sensors. These stored data include citizens’ data, data generated from various devices, and property-related data. The data is used to monitor and manage traffic and transportation systems, power plants, water supply networks, waste management, law enforcement, information systems, schools, libraries and hospitals. The main objective of any smart city is to ensure the supply of citizen services in an effective manner using technology, so that sustainable and inclusive development can be promoted as well as possible environmental protection.
- 68 percent of India’s population lives in villages. The growing urban-rural divide has left the rural population at a disadvantage. GandhiJi said that “India resides in its villages”. He considered the villages as centers of development and empowerment. However, the reality is far from GandhiJi’s dream. Decades of neglect have overtaken rural India.
- The government is committed to bridge the urban-rural divide by providing adequate drinking watersupply, health and educational opportunities, sanitation, digital connectivity and road connectivity through its various schemes.
- After unveiling the Smart City Mission, the government has launched the Smart Village Mission. This is seen as a logical progression of PURA (Providing Urban Facilities in Rural Areas) and Shyama Prasad Mukherjee National Urban Mission (NRUM). It aims to develop smart villages, which have the soul of village and urban facilities.
- PURA was started by our former President Dr. APJ Abdul Kalam to connect health, education and knowledge and provide employment opportunities in rural areas. NRUM aims to create physical, social and digital infrastructure in the cluster sector, which will serve as the engine of growth and development.
The overall goal of the government is to improve the standard of living of both its rural and urban communities. Various plans have been launched to realize this noble goal.