Globally urbanization is an ongoing trend that needs a strategy design in the form of planned smart cities for the proper settlement of people for the sustainable economic growth of the
nation. The social process whereby cities grow and societies become more urban in India are occurring at a breakneck pace. The ratio of the world’s urban population is expected to increase from 55% in 2018 (some 4.2 billion people) to 68% by 2050, which will mean that the world’s urban population will nearly double. By 2100, some 85% of the population will live in cities, with an urban population increasing from under 1 billion in 1950 to 9 billion by 2100. India’s urban population is expected to rise to 517 million by this current year and to break the breathtaking 700 million mark by 2050. The country faces major challenges in mastering the rapid pace of urbanization and modernization.
India’s real challenge in the present and future is the rapid growth of its cities – urbanization. In 1901, only one in ten Indians lived in the city. By 2030, the UN estimates that more than 40% of Indians could already be living in megacities. And two of the ten largest cities in the world are Indian already today – Delhi and Mumbai. For many of the Indian cities need to implement the smart city policy to translate into the desired outcomes such as more sustainable, more productive and better-governed cities – is debatable. Micro Tech Global Foundation offers “Secured Governance” a novel strategy for the government to get all the infrastructure development with a negligible investment by the public. It attempts to work towards close-knit growth in all sectors of the economy, without the usual financial constraints that hamper ongoing efforts. It will help enable all that the common man needs to feel secure ─ a safe home and hearth with progress around him, which is what one expects from good governance. Much of the investments for Smart city development will come from the Private sector wherein the government and its agencies will act as facilitators. This will have a spiraling effect on Global Economy with defined regions being developed as “Smart Cities or HUBs” and multiple HUBs connecting each other creating a Techno-Economic Corridor. The Mini HUBs and Nano HUBs will be spread over Semi-Urban and village regions promoting Industrial development and adoption of modern amenities and technologies to generate additional employment in those areas with minimal rural-urban migration and pay a rich dividend to elite and rich investors.
On the one hand, rapid urbanization is increasing an environmental load of cities. Cities are sources of environmental problems such as traffic congestion and smog. In another hand, cities have huge opportunities to act as hubs for the development of smart, sustainable solutions that can help meet human needs within minimal footprints while still improving quality of life. As more and more people flocked to metro cities, the need for housing spaces increased. This led to the peripheries of the city expanding, bringing new cities in the vicinity of the core metro city region. Other metros, Mumbai, Kolkata, and Chennai, have a similar pattern. Satellite cities are self-sufficient communities outside of their larger metropolitan areas but have become interconnected due to the suburban expansion of the larger metropolis. However, satellite cities do not have their independent metropolitan government and they are very much physically integrated with the core city. They are designed to help a major city extend in all possible ways. Satellite cities could be completely standalone cities, developed outside metros. They are self-containing, independent cities, unlike a suburb or a subdivision.
As a part of my various geographical movements in my growing up years and career, 3 cities where I lived, have influenced my thoughts about economic development by developing cities and upgrading their infrastructure viz. Nagpur and Surat in India and Shenzhen in China.
I did my schooling in Nagpur in the 80`s. Nagpur at that time was considered an easy-going Tier-2/3 city and was mainly known for its oranges and the scorching summer. From the late 90`s and in the 2000`s thanks to the initiatives taken to upgrade the infrastructure and basic amenities, Nagpur today is one of the bustling cities in India with companies like Boeing setting up their base in the city.
Surat in the mid-’90s was hit a plague and considered one of the filthiest cities in India. Again, thanks to the clean-up initiatives and infrastructure build-up, Surat is one of the cleanest and most livable cities in India which has augmented its highly competitive textile and diamond industries.
Shenzhen in China was a fishing village in the ’60s and upgraded to a city infrastructure to parallel Hong Kong. Today Shenzhen is one of the global hubs for technological innovation in the world and houses some of China`s premier telecom companies like Huawei and ZTE.
Well-developed city clusters drive growth through agglomeration effects…
All the major nations have several cities through which the growth has been driven. China has several cities, apart from Beijing and Shanghai, the economies of which are as big as many nations.
Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province, is a major bustling city that hosted the G-20 summit in 2016 while Shenzhen`s story is well known. The USA to has several cities which are global hubs and in fact, all the major cities in the USA are good enough to host the Olympics! Economists refer to these benefits of city hubs as the effects of “agglomeration” which talks about the economic and social benefits of being in a cluster e.g. savings from common facilities like suppliers, common service providers, etc. City hubs also prove to sources of innovation due to the agglomeration effect like in the case of Bengaluru in India and Manchester for the textile business in the 19th century. It has been seen that cities form and grow to exploit economies of agglomeration.
However, there are also negative effects of the agglomeration as once beyond a size the city hubs face issues like overpopulation, congestion, inadequate infrastructure, etc. A typical example is Mumbai which for the past so many years has seen traffic snarls, overpopulation leading to congestion and breakdown of infrastructure in monsoons.
The benefits of city clusters are numerous…
Hence the solution for a country like India is to have many city/ urban clusters across the country.
The major benefits would be:
- The exploitation of the potential of the country from across and from the hinterland,
- Less congestion in the cities
- Mobility of people and facilities across these clusters and consequentially the country will have many engines of growth that will propel the country`s development in a balanced way.
Amongst the global top 10 Nations, India`s statistics are different…
Interestingly, amongst the top 10 countries in the world by GDP, India has the lowest proportion of the urban population, as per World Bank figures. India`s figures at 33% compare abysmally low to China at 57% which has a similar population as that of India.
All other major countries have an urban population of more than 75% with Japan topping the list at 91%. Another interesting fact is that the top 10 cities in India account for only 12% of the GDP while a similar statistic for China and the USA stands at 24% and 34% respectively. This clearly shows the focus on building numerous city and urban clusters that have powered the economic development of China and the USA hence has reaped the benefits of “agglomeration”.
Another interesting piece of the statistic is that the top 10 cities in the USA and China account for 7.1% and 8.4% of the population while in India a similar figure is 5.5%! This is even though all top Indian cities are seemingly overcrowded as in Mumbai, Bengaluru, etc.!
Is there an opportunity for India?
India`s masses live majorly in the tier-2, tier -3 and below towns and villages. Imagine the boost that the Indian economy can get by having different city hubs across the country which can harness the potential of the Indian hinterland. A city like Nagpur can harness the potential of nearby areas in the Vidarbha which else will have to reach out places like Pune or Mumbai.
The “Smart City” initiative is an important initiative for India…
The Indian government`s “Smart City” initiative which was launched in 2016 aims to do the same. This initiative under a central flagship scheme allocated about US$ 14bn in the 2016 budget under which cities must compete to get the funding. In different rounds of voting about 100 cities have been identified under this scheme and SPV`s will be formed, with strict guidelines, headed by a CEO.
- The basic objective is to have better access to basic facilities and core infrastructure for the citizens.
The success of the “Smart City” initiative is an important step in India`s equal and overall development. Imagine in the next 10 years we have about 10 cities which can vie to organize important events like the Olympics, Asian Games, global conferences, etc.!! Imagine people opting to work in places like Raipur, Lucknow, etc. as compared to Mumbai and Delhi now.
“Smart City’ initiative if it succeeds will take India`s economic growth to a different level!!
Secured Governance – A Holistic Approach to Infrastructure Development
“Secured Governance offers a strategy for the government to get all the basic infrastructure development with a negligible investment by the Government. It is a concept of developing Techno-Economic Corridors connecting HUBs which will act as a growth center for individual sectors. The very concept of “Secured’’ here implies a secured convergence or knitting with various sectors defining a growth for an economy.”
Secured Governance is a concept that is catching the attention of many as a holistic approach to infrastructure needs, promising a great deal. It professes taking advantage of the valuation of assets created, and delivering at almost no cost to the government. It aims at balanced growth in all sectors in need of better facilities, in a more holistic manner, rather than focusing only on saying highways, or power or any one of numerous other sectors. While addressing any one of them, the others also get due attention ensuring all-round development. It promises more societal participation and benefit-sharing with transparency. Underlying this is a strategy of developing techno-economic corridors connecting major hubs (read new cities in traditionally backward and underdeveloped areas) across the country which coincidently meshes with the idea of having ‘100 new cities’ under the present Government.
Secured Governance advocates a pragmatic approach of taking Advantage of Valuation of Assets Created
This is not new. We all know when development takes place there is valuation in a property. Who benefits from this? More often than not it is incidental and taken advantage off by land and property sharks. Imagine a model where this valuation can be plowed back into the project and also benefit the people around. First, the cost of the project is reduced, and can actually be at near-zero cost to the government if carefully planned. Next, the population sees it as benefitting them and so they participate more enthusiastically, helping with the early completion of the project rather than being an impediment.
PPPs are essential “development sharing partnerships and minimize risk” between governments and the private sector on financing, designing, constructing and operating public infrastructure and public services. Infrastructure projects are inherently complex and unpredictable, and, under PPP arrangements, governments opt to transfer specific tasks and the risks associated with them to private enterprises that might be better able to execute and mitigate them.
- Unleashing Telecom HUBs for National Economic Growth through Secured Governance
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Secured Governance Compliments the present PPP developmental model by ensuring balanced participation of the private and public sector taking advantage of value and valuation of infrastructure thereby yielding higher returns. This valuation of infrastructure, which grows many folds need to be shared by the society and by the Government to support infrastructure development, ensuring balanced growth. It facilitates an equal opportunity for the Private sector and Government to work together with a single-window clearance system to achieve greater results to bring National progress with profitability to the participating organizations.
It is the good fortune that in India we have a renewed interest and massive governmental support for developing Greenfield smart cities and Brownfield smart cities. Several ministries like the Ministry of Urban Development, Ministry of Transportation, Telecommunications, Power, Education, Healthcare, etc., have come to realize the potential of modern technology elements that will make smart cities a future prospect.
The need of the hour is to make these siloed departments to start work together in sharing data that will make each other smart and also in creating a coordinating cell across all ministries that will oversee this coordinated effort. Also, the need of the hour is to understand the value of linked information and finding patterns within these links to make our cities smart. Sustainable smartness is possible only when we create physical and logical links between things that were not previously linked. New telecommunications technologies, sensor technologies, and ubiquitous availability of internet mobile applications will transform the way we consume all the information from ours.
These concepts are not limited to cities alone. They have the potential to reinvigorate rural economies and make them more habitable and economically viable. Apart from impacting the economy, this will bring in transparency in government and will also improve the velocity of businesses; improve the quality of life for ordinary citizens—even if they are not in the digital environment.
The imperative of rapid scaling up of the infrastructure capacity – in the Government and private sector (developers, contractors, consultants, financial intermediaries, and investors) – entails developing and implementing projects of the required scale and within the tight time frames envisaged. The recent initiatives of “100 smart cities” on the part of the Government have begun to turnaround the project as far as the private participation is concerned through project execution and planning new investments.
Lastly, to implement an ambitious roadmap for this project, improved standards of secured governance and concerted action would be required to take these targets and goals from inspirational statements to actual development. We need a system to integrate economic interdependence in today’s modern societies which not only decreases uncertainty regarding where risks begin and end but also helps in judicious planning and development of new empowered, transparent and interdependent Governance systems with a higher degree of social participation in nation-building Process. Secured Governance is an ideal choice that equips to create adequate and coordinated measures to ensure the provision of financial, human, technical, information and other capacity-building resources