India plans to create 100 cities of the future
Soon after his election as prime minister, Narendra Modi announced one of his most ambitions initiatives, the development of smart cities. The government intends to meet the needs of the country’s burgeoning population and economy by creating a total of about 100 cities with well- functioning infrastructure and services. The program envisions retrofitting existing cities with the latest smart technology and building completely new ones.
Urban life has characterized the rise of civilization for perhaps 7,000 years, since the city of Sumer appeared in the fertile land between the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. In announcing his smart cities program, Modi noted that today’s rivers are concrete highways and tomorrow’s will be optical fiber.
The planned cities will be scattered throughout India to accommodate an urban population that’s expected to reach almost 600 million by 2030, according to some estimates, as the economy shifts away from its agrarian roots and cities offer new employment opportunities. Many of the smart cities will be located in the corridor connecting Mumbai and Delhi, and some will include special economic zones.
The transformation of farmland and countryside into vast urban conurbations with special economic zones sounds like the dynamics rapidly transforming China. But India isn’t China. In India, democratic process and competing interests make progress slower and more tedious to achieve.
In addition, Indians live in the tension between modernity and tradition. They’d welcome less traffic congestion and well- designed buildings with state-of-the-art energy systems and flawless plumbing. But they’re not inclined to gain these amenities by simply bulldozing over the past.