India’s Urban Challenges and Smart Cities: A Contemporary Study

Authorship: Mihir Bholey, National Institute of Design, PG Campus, Gandhinagar, Gujarat, INDIA.


After coming to power in 2014 Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government announced the ambitious programme of building 100 smart cities in India. The idea behind is to rejuvenate the ailing urban system, improve urban infrastructure, quality of life and achieve sustainable and inclusive development besides other things. Tremendous demographic pressure, inadequate infrastructure and resources to cater to the population which runs in billions, unplanned growth of the peri-urban sprawls characterize India’s urban environment. Socio-economic imperatives are the key factors behind the rapid urbanization in India. Livelihood, security and prosperity are some prime movers. Ironically, cities, which on the one hand are considered the growth engines of economy, also attract poverty (socio-economically marginalized population) in large proportion. Consequently posh urban sprawls in Indian cities exist amidst impoverished habitats called slums where the poor inhabitants are condemned to live in sub-human condition. Reconciling growing affluence and abject poverty in cities is a difficult task too. In the backdrop of India’s urban challenges this paper seeks to examine some critical issues associated with the development of smart cities to understand: Will smart cities serve India’s aspiration or fulfill its urban needs? Can it address the contemporary and future needs of India’s urbanization? How will it ensure the participation of the urban stakeholders? How will it ensure social inclusion and finally, whether India needs smart cities or smart urban solutions for sustainable development?

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This article is published in Scholedge International journal of Business Policy & Governance Vol. 03, Issue 03 (2016)