Smart cities
Smart cities

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1.4 India Smart Cities Challenge

A photograph of a main street in Hyderabad, India.
Figure 4 A main street in Hyderabad, India.

India’s plans for investment in 100 smart cities has faced a fair amount of criticism. However, in June 2015 while unveiling three urban schemes aimed at developing cities as engines of growth, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi signalled his desire for greater citizen engagement when he announced that ‘private property developers should not decide how a city should grow and the decision should be taken by residents and administrators of the city’ (India Smart Cities Challenge, 2015).

One of the urban schemes is the India Smart Cities Challenge [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] , a competition where 100 cities will receive funding from the Ministry of Urban Development as well as support from Bloomberg Philanthropies. The challenge is designed to inspire greater creativity from municipal officials and their partners, as well as more involvement and inspiration from citizens, through the development of smart city proposals that will produce concrete benefits in people’s lives. As a first step, all states will use standardised criteria to pick their cities for the competition and every state is guaranteed at least one city in the competition.

Guidance on how to define smart city aspirations is offered in the Smart City Mission Statement and Guidelines, which stipulate that core infrastructure elements should include adequate water supply, assured electricity supply and sanitation. This document also indicates an understanding of the smart city in India that is different from definitions applied in other places in the world, demonstrating once again that there is no one way of defining a smart city (Ministry of Urban Development, Government of India, 2015).

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