Daily Analysis

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RSTV – THE BIG PICTURE ANALYSIS

TECHNOLOGY AND URBAN TRANSFORMATION

The Editorial covers GS paper 3 [Science and Technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievements of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.]

AWARENESS : UPSC : 98 Shortlisted Cities to be built as Smart Cities.

Context

Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone of Light House Projects (LHP) under Global Housing Technology Challenge-India (GHTC-India) at six sites across six States. 

What is the Background?

  • A more liberal and realistic definition in the upcoming census will present the actual picture of urbanisation.

  • For instance, if we just use the population density criteria like 37 other countries, with the 400 people per sq km threshold, we will add around 500 mn people to the urban share of the population.

  • This pegs the urbanisation rate at over 70%!

What are the implications?

  • First, the budgetary allocation will reflect the reality and scales will balance between rural and urban areas.

  • Second, the urban areas will not be governed through rural governance structures of Panchayati Raj Institutions.

  • Third basic urban infrastructure like sewerage networks, fire services, building regulations, high-density housing, transit-oriented development, piped drinking water supply.

  • Fourth, these newly defined urban areas could act as a new source of revenue for funding local infrastructure development.

  • This would ease pressure on state finances.

  • Lastly, the rethink of urban definition would have an impact on the regional and national economy.

  • These newly defined urban areas will open them to new infrastructure such as railway lines, discom services, highway connectivity, creation of higher education institutes which will together increase the connectivity and resource capability at the local level.

  • This will not only boost the local economy but also ease pressure on bigger cities and help in cluster level development.

 

What is the way forward?

  • Some of the principal and strong advantages claimed for megacities with their sky scrapers are the economies of agglomeration and the generation of new ideas and innovations through multi-disciplinary interactions. 

  • These advantages have been largely nullified with advances in digital technologies that have made online interactions numerous, equally rich in content and covering a wider range of disciplines. 

  • The “cloud” is the new interaction space, which can be accessed by innovators from widely-spread geographies. Digitisation has apparently resulted in the loss of cities’ innovative mojo.

  • With this major transformation and with the onset of COVID-19, it is surely the time to reconsider our habitation model. 

  • Gandhiji’s model of gram swaraj, APJ Abdul Kalam’s vision of providing urban amenities in rural areas and Nanaji Deshmukh’s idea of self-reliant village development clearly deserve of fresh and focused attention.

Conclusion

 

We have vast swathes of land, people and resources located in our over 6,00,000 villages. These offer another chance for us to pursue an alternative model of development where agriculture, industry and service sectors move in sync for sustainable development, which is in harmony with nature. This will minimise our carbon footprint. At the same time, it will also minimise social disruption with jobs coming to people rather than the other way round. New technology, the carbon constraint and diseconomies of congestion and density must force us to review our urbanisation landscape.