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Indian smart cities have set standard for world - London School of Economics

2017-06-02

The Centre’s initiative - Smart City Mission has got its first international affirmation, as a London School of Economics study has praised the government’s effort, saying Indian smart cities could become lighthouses for other cities around the world.  Two years after the government launched the mission to smarten up 98 cities by promoting economic growth and improved governance, the study has commended the program. It was conducted, after the first set of 20 cities, were chosen in January 2016, through a competitive process to initiate the mission. 

The research examined the proposals of each city and conducted stakeholder interviews to gauge the selection process and the quality of the mission. The Smart Cities Challenge, which was the first time India used an open national competitive framework to distribute, funding to local governments for urban development, has been termed as “the most innovative aspect of the Mission”.  The study praises the innovative and transparent manner in which the challenge was conducted, stating the process encouraged new thinking amongst local leaders and encouraged them to “perform well under pressure” and “work across departments”. Citizens’ participation in framing a city’s plan has been appreciated.  This is a major step forward in a country with historic traditions of urban bureaucratic control. It shows that the central government’s active role in facilitating greater citizen participation at the local level was critical; and has immense potential to improve developmental outcomes.

The research also commends India’s Smart City Mission for its different approach from the global conception of smart cities. It says, “India’s experience navigating this process will have implications and lessons for other rapidly urbanizing regions. In that way, India’s smart cities can be ‘lighthouses’ not just for Indian cities but also for cities around the world.” 

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