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.