Is traditionally smart a passé?
The 100 Smart Cities programme launched by the Indian government, has the vision to promote cities that provide core infrastructure and give a decent quality of life to its citizens, a clean and sustainable environment and application of ‘Smart’ Solutions.
Achieving the goal of developing 100 smart cities in India will require a lot more than the right technologies, say experts, given that Indian cities are lacking in basic governance and physical infrastructure. Many have asked if this programme really has the capability of supporting development needs, and if it is instead channeling funds away from areas that desperately need support. While wondering about what exactly this “Smartness” entails, here we discuss how our traditional cities worked and if we have forgotten our lessons from history. Nidhi Batra, our guest blogger helps us articulate this discussion and share her thoughts :
What is a city? Or what is urban? – This is usually one of the first questions that I ask my students in the introductory classes for the Masters in Urban Design programme in New Delhi. Every time I reflect on the definition of what is urban and what the census of India has defined it for us – I debate it in my mind, just the way Lewis Mumford would have. Is urban really defined by numbers and density or rather should it be defined by a certain ‘way of life’? Mumford, an American historian, sociologist and literary critic particularly noted for his study of cities writes that the city, is "a theater of social action," and everything else-art, politics, education, commerce-only serve to make "the social drama richly significant, as a stage-set, well-designed, intensifies and underlies the gestures of the actors and the action of the play."
For the Census of India 2011, the definition of urban area is as follows:
All places with a municipality, corporation, cantonment board or notified town area committee, etc.
All other places which satisfied the following criteria:
A minimum population of 5,000
At least 75% of the male main working population engaged in non-agricultural pursuits; and
A density of population of at least 400 persons per sq. km.