The Indian Government’s Smart City Mission, launched in 2015, envisions the development of 100 “smart cities” by 2020 to address the country’s rapid urbanization; 30 cities were added to the official list last week, taking the current total of planned initiatives to 90. The $7.5 billion mission entails the comprehensive development of core infrastructure—water and electricity supply, urban mobility, affordable housing, sanitation, health, and safety—while infusing technology-based “smart solutions” to drive economic growth and improve the citizens’ quality of life in cities. In a country bogged down by bureaucratic corruption, the mission has been commended for its transparent and innovative use of a nation-wide “City Challenge” to award funding to the best proposals from local municipal bodies. Its utopian manifesto and on-ground implementation, however, are a cause of serious concern among urban planners and policy-makers today, who question if the very idea of the Indian smart city is inherently flawed. Read More