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India’s love for ‘smart’: Transforming rural India into mini-Chandigarhs

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By Dr. J.K. Bhutani

Smartphones, smart cars, smart homes and now smart cities; ‘smart’ is the latest hype in India!

Smart cities, the ambitious proposal of the government of India, is as much a fancy of the middle class urbanites, as it is of the populist current government. The project which has a budget allocation of Rs. 7,016 crore, has won the heart and mind of one and all.

The smart cities are governed and run by the touch of a touch-screen and are the face of the development, modernisation and rising economic power of India.

India, nevertheless, needs to have its strengths and self-sufficiency.

India has traditionally governed itself with the focus on its more than 600,000 villages.

M.K. Gandhi firmly believed that self-reliant villages form a sound basis for a just, equitable and non-violent India.  He was convinced that

‘if the villages perish, India will perish too. Her own mission in the world will get lost…. which included economic self-reliance, social equality and decentralized political system’.  

The modern rural India should be showcased too for the world needs to know the gains of freedom, governance and technology.

The vision of our Prime Minister Narendra Modi that ‘if we have to build the nation we have to start from the villages’ echoes the same concern and goal. Our PM has requested all Members of Parliament (MP) to develop one model village in their constituency by the year 2016 and two more by 2019.

The ‘Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme (MPLADS)’ not only funds, but also takes care of mobilization of local resources from the philanthropists.

Corporates with CSR (corporate social responsibility) obligations can be more than enough for the development and provision of the basic amenities to people who are living in the villages.

We have the technology, we have the funds and we have the model….every village can be a mini-Chandigarh with all the basic and the modern facilities of power, piped water, road network, drainage, self sustaining waste disposals and telecommunication networks.  

As per the official records, out of Rs. 2147.50 crore released for the MPLADS ( 2014-15), nearly 75 per cent of the funds have remained unspent.

If all 900 plus parliamentarians and some NGOs and corporates adopt 5 villages each every year, then, by 2025 we shall have more than 50000 villages which could rightfully have a tag of mini-Chandigarh as far as modern amenities matter for a good life are concerned, and that too without putting any extra burden on the taxpayer.

Our vision of modern cities, as dreamt by Nehru and put to life by the genius of Le Corbusier and the skilled engineers and workers of this nation, has been able to give almost a heritage city status to Chandigarh.

There are more than 6 lakh mini-Chandigarhs in the making.

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Nearly Half of the Teenagers in the US and Japan are ‘Addicted’ to Smartphones, Says New Report

Nowadays, one of the worst things that can happen to us is, like, 'Oh, I left my phone at home,'

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Brian Vega, left, Peyton Ruiz, second from left, and Max Marrero, right, check their smartphones at Bayfront Park in downtown Miami, Florida. (AP Photo/Alan Diaz) (VOA)

California, October 12, 2017 : About half of teenagers in the United States and Japan say they are addicted to their smartphones.

University of Southern California (USC) researchers asked 1,200 Japanese about their use of electronic devices. The researchers are with the Walter Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism. Their findings were compared with an earlier study on digital media use among families in North America.

“Advances in digital media and mobile devices are changing the way we engage not only with the world around us, but also with the people who are the closest to us,” said Willow Bay, head of the Annenberg School.

The USC report finds that 50 percent of American teenagers and 45 percent of Japanese teens feel addicted to their smartphones.

SMARTPHONES
Willow Bay, dean of the USC Annenberg School for Communications and Journalism, Sept. 28, 2016, in Beverly Hills, California. VOA

“This is a really big deal,” said James Steyer, founder of Common Sense Media, an organization that helped with the study. “Just think about it, 10 years ago we didn’t even have smartphones.”

Sixty-one percent of Japanese parents believe their children are addicted to the devices. That compares to 59 percent of the American parents who were asked.

Also, more than 1-in-3 Japanese parents feel they have grown dependent on electronic devices, compared to about 1-in-4 American parents.

Leaving your phone at home is ‘one of the worst things’

“Nowadays, one of the worst things that can happen to us is, like, ‘Oh, I left my phone at home,’” said Alissa Caldwell, a student at the American School in Tokyo. She spoke at the USC Global Conference 2017, which was held in Tokyo.

smartphones
People look at their smartphones in front of an electronic stock board of a securities firm in Tokyo. VOA

A majority of Japanese and American parents said their teenagers used mobile devices too much. But only 17 percent of Japanese teens agreed with that assessment. In the United States, 52 percent of teens said they are spending too much time on mobile devices.

Many respond immediately to messages

About 7-in-10 American teens said they felt a need to react quickly to mobile messages, compared to about half of Japanese teens.

In Japan, 38 percent of parents and 48 percent of teens look at and use their devices at least once an hour. In the United States, 69 percent of parents and 78 percent of teens say they use their devices every hour.

Naturally, that hourly usage stops when people are sleeping, the researchers said.

SMARTPHONES
Young people using smartphones. (Photo courtesy Kuvituskuvat via Flickr) (VOA)

The devices are a greater cause of conflict among teens and parents in the United States than in Japan. One-in-3 U.S. families reported having an argument every day about smarthphone use. Only about 1-in-6 Japanese families say they fight every day over mobile devices.

Care more about devices than your children?

But 20 percent of Japanese teens said they sometimes feel that their parents think their mobile device is more important than they are. The percentage of U.S. teens saying they feel this way is 6 percent.

In the United States, 15 percent of parents say their teens’ use of mobile devices worsens the family’s personal relationships. Eleven percent of teens feel their parents’ use of smarthphones is not good for their relationship.

The USC research was based on an April 2017 study of 600 Japanese parents and 600 Japanese teenagers. Opinions from American parents and teenagers were collected in a study done earlier by Common Sense Media.

Bay, the Annenberg School of Communications dean, said the research raises critical questions about the effect of digital devices on family life.

She said the cultural effects may differ from country to country, but “this is clearly a global issue.” (VOA)