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Monday, November 16, 2015

The Canvas of Human Development

What has been one of the most dominating object of the ongoing phase for the human race  and its developmental story i.e. smart cities, can be seen to as digitisation of the human urban settlements in an era dominated by the virtual globalisation of the human race from a window at a glance or to as a younger family member from the family of industrial revolution which once changed the structure and nature of the human settlements. The intention behind the vision is quite positive but its overall emphasis on improving the level of physical infrastructure creates a situation of ambiguity if going through the literal meaning of the term being discussed in this article. In a country like India with numerous social issues and problems like creation of the cities of differences and social exclusion to name a couple - the entire scenario being promoted can be looked as a means to achieve short term objectives in a phase where long term visions are needed to be formulated especially when a long urban history is yet to be written by the nation. For instance, India with the world’s largest demographic dividend is set to get converted in one of the countries with the largest population of the aged human beings in the coming decades and very little is even discussed on platforms which are intended to involve in the creation of the smart human urban settlements - the chances of the long term success of the smart cities seems little in such a scenario. India still is somewhere in the midway of writing its urban history with around 33 percent of the population living in urban spaces which is often quoted by various institutions to rise upto 70 percent somewhere in the later parts of the ongoing century. 

For human urban settlements, they are needed to be planned based on long term perspectives as any development made today will have its far reaching consequences in the decades to come. However, with the ever rising complexity of them in a world dominated by growing industrial activities in a highly globalised world with virtual technology playing a vital role in increasing the number of relationships that run within the system of human settlements - planning of the entire scenario looks a lot difficult especially when sectoral successes has been found to act as the mainstay to achieve the real intentions behind making the cities smart. Economics has always dominated the mode of human development since its birth, but its emphasis really got strengthened after the two world wars and the developments made in the 20th century when the world was facing the crisis of survival, but never before with this much intensity, cities were looked more of as a business opportunities as being looked in the current phase of human development. There may be different perspectives for it - but the reality behind the creation of the smart cities lies in the sustenance of the system in such a manner that it reaches to the masses sorting out the issues and problems of the human society at large - for it the usage of the technology should be welcomed, but its long term consequences should be well checked based on the inter-dependent nature of the system that the race of humanity is part of. 

The world leaders are often seen talking about the future of the human race and about the planet as a whole at large, but they seem to be really missing the connecting links between the humanly created boundaries and hence the focus thus identified is often seen to be changing for every decade of development. The theory of economics is often seen to be playing the major role in such a situation where countries are engaged in the war of economic development failing to guide and co-operate with each other in such a crucial phase. After studying the history of the human beings and its development - they are needed to understand that civilisations do have a life span in which human interference plays a key role in deciding the ages of them and it can be planned inclusively and intelligently to extend and enhance the glories of the ongoing human civilisation. The entire story of human development can be further glorified if the vision formulated gets a larger canvas than being used in the contemporary mode of developmental studies based on the inter-dependence nature of the entire system of human settlements so as to make it far more futuristic and hence more efficient and sustainable.

Image from cheapwallarts

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Why an all-round success of the SmartCities in India is doubtful?

There’s always a difference between a dream and a vision. A dream may be a happening of sub-conscious mind while a vision is based on one’s wisdom in his conscious existence. A dream is based on an individual’s thought process while the vision is based on our collective thought processes put together. To dream of building SmartCities was undoubtedly good but urbanization is one of the toughest thing in this world to be dealt in such easily and that too in this fast paced mode of developments and advancements being experienced by our ongoing civilization. For a smart mode of development, indigenous planning is the first requisite. Cities are being treated more as a market commodity nowadays like ‘We provide the best service and product' with assurances and terms & conditions tag in the small right hand corner generally in small fonts so as to give it the least attention. The government should make consultations but it should also remember that there can’t be any prototype designs for building a real smart city.

The second thing is the smart utilization of the natural system. There are doubts when environmental planning is done separately ignoring the fact that the natural system is itself the smartest thing in this universe and its utilization in an integrated manner would have been given a higher priority in the planning process if aspirations are for building real smart and sustainable cities. The government has called for a competition and it is quite possible for it to come up with yet another policy and test based on quantitative indexing. Smart cities literally means smart in every sense and not just IT-enabling of a city to make it more interactive. If the government is eying at it, then the term DigitalCities would have been more apt and less confusing for the concerned fraternity. 

The third is the human society itself. The real utilization of the smart technology in places where it will be placed in Indian cities is another thing that creates doubt about the success of the smartcities in such a nation where a major share of its population can be normally seen living in the slums and degraded urban parts generally out of lack of awareness and education. The usage of the entire technology base which is being conceptualized to be incorporated into the urban system of the so-called SmartCities is itself quite doubtful with a population still trying to come up in its education sector. If the government really have aspirations for planning and building Smart future for the nation, it should first look into things like raising its percentage share of GDP used for education and learning and then come up with its indigenous planning approach and then the utilization of smart technology would have been more appropriate and suitable. But the government has its vision and what all its inhabitants can do is increase their participation in the whole planning process.  

The government is often seen pressing the advantage that the country has for having the world’s largest demographic dividend, but its proper utilization as per their capabilities and potential isn’t being looked into through wider perspective and the exercise has looked more concentrated to provide them employment in order to boost the economic development. Government has to understand that economic development is only a means to an end & over-emphasizing it has produced some non-adaptable or failed examples across the World. Smartcities (as per the contemporary approaches generally found being followed) may come up with some sectoral successes but in an inter-dependent system of human settlement, following sectoral approaches  can never create balanced, smart & sustainable future and the concerned fraternity should realize the phenomenon of the domino effect which is one of the best way of understanding the complexity while planning up for the smartcities. India has a golden chance to write its urban history better than many other nations of the world but the key is to not repeat the mistakes which are already committed by our fellow human societies and are found inappropriate/unsuitable/unworthy for the efficient functioning of an urban system. 

Image from asid