The word Smart City constitutes a number of things of which IT-enabled services are just a part. It’s a misconception that smart cities mean a city which is completely wired up and tuned to the online world.
No. A smart city is one which provides for good living spaces, breathing space, gardens, a proper sewage and waste management system, good roads and uninterrupted electricity. And the most important facility will be clean drinking water. You go to US and Europe and you can drink straight out of the civic tap without fear of getting sick. Can you do it in Nagpur without at least the thought of water’s purity crossing your mind? Smart City needs smart citizens as well.
A smart citizen is one who has civic sense and respects the law. If Nagpur becomes a Smart City with excellent infrastructure then will we all turn into law-abiding citizens? Will people stop jumping signals and drive within speed limit? Will every Nagpurian stand in queue and give way to senior citizens? If not then what is the point of a smart city. It’s like constructing a truly world class tower and populating it with people who will turn it into a garbage bin within 12 months. You visit any residential building in Nagpur and the flats inside will be very clean as people want their homes to look nice. But where is the dust swept away? Right outside their door into the common staircase or common area. Our cleanliness is limited to our house. Becoming a smart city is all about developing a collective civic sense. And it’s not as if we can’t change.
Just fly out five hours to Singapore and you will see the same Nagpurians looking for the nearest dustbin to throw their garbage bin or to spit. No one will be stopping on the roadside to relieve themselves. But the vices return on return. I understand that TOI readers will find my words very negative and full of criticisms but I have an issue with nicely coined words as ‘Smart City’. Such words make excellent newspaper headlines, look good as part of political quotes but that is it.
I feel it is more important to look at the ground reality. Education is crucial to developing a truly smart citizen, the values have to imbibed at an early stage. I love this city from the bottom of my heart. I always tell people that I am a ‘local santra’ (orange). And it is due to the love I have for this city that I feel so strongly about this concept of smart city.
The IT infrastructure and benefits offered in a Smart City is a wonderful addition but the citizens too have to contribute. Let’s all resolve to start the ‘smartness’ from inside and make Nagpur a truly smart city.