Smart Village, Not City is the Need of India

Approach:

  • The topic is based on contemporary India thus substantiate the arguments with valid examples. Describe the form of urbanization taking place in India, flaws in it. How Smart City concept can bring change but rural development alongwith that is indispensable?

Introduction:

  • India still lives in its villages. Despite rapid urbanization, close to 70 % of India’s population still resides in more than 2.5 lakh villages. However, declining farm output, absence of basic amenities and emerging problems of environment pollution and conflicts have made “Poverty, pollution, patriarchy and pity” as the hallmark of Indian villages.
  • The problems of villages have spilled over to urban areas (rural urban migration), creating issues of congestion, slum and urban pollution. Indian government has started many initiatives like AMRUT (Atal Mission for Rejuvenation and Urban Transformation) and ambitious “Smart City Programme”. But without addressing the fundamental issues affecting Indian villages, these initiatives will yield little.
  • Hence, Smart Village is the need of India and is the prerequisite for success of Smart City and goal of sustainable development (SDG).

Main Body:

  • What does SMART means in link with Urbanization. Is it just based on Scientific Development or more than that? What are the negative impacts of haphazard urbanization? What does Smart Village means?

What is smart village?

  • S [Social, Skilled and Simple]: Zero Tolerance for Caste and Creed based discrimination; no discrimination on Gender and Religion; Social values like voluntarism, social justice, etc; Universal value based functional literacy, skill development, financial inclusion and basic livelihood security.
  • M [Moral, Methodical and Modern]: Gandhian values of peaceful cohabitation, non violence, minimalism and cleanliness, etc; Modern technology and infrastructure facility (school, road, hospital, clean water, solid waste management, broadband connection, etc); Liberal mindset and critical thinking.
  • A [Aware, Adaptive and Adjusting]: Highest level of awareness on global social & economic issues, Adaptive and adjusting to fast changing environments. Thus include a sense of brotherhood and cooperation.
  • R [Responsive and Ready]: Responsive to collective wisdom, cooperative movement & larger social issues. Ready to generate own resources for self-sufficiency and self-reliance; Capacity to respond disaster and othersecurity threats.
  • T [Techno-Savvy and Transparent]: Techno-savvy for IT and Mobile usage; Transparent in harmonic relations and delivery of services; Efficient and responsive village administration.

Why India needs smart village?

  • Village accommodates majority of population and most of the pressing socio-economic problems too (poverty, malnutrition, illiteracy, etc). Hence village transformation is key to national transformation.
  • Agriculture is the fulcrum of Indian economy, on which macro-economic parameters like GDP growth, overall demand, market sentiment, manufacturing and trade, etc depend directly or indirectly. Hence smart village economy (i.e. climate resilient smart agriculture, village industry and smart labour force) is essential for stability and prosperity of India.
  • Traditional village way of life is more environment friendly and promotes sustainable resource use (e.g community water harvesting, sacred grooves).
  • Article 40 of Indian constitution directs state to empower village panchayats to be able to function as units of self government. Hence a smartly administered village local government will strengthen democracy and make citizens, the stakeholders rather than recipients.
  • The haphazard urbanization is the result of rural-urban migration. Thus, proper steps needed to reverse this trend for the sustainable development of both villages and urban areas.
  • What are the challenges: Weak political mobilization; Poor infrastructure and connectivity; Huge population & Colonial attitude of bureaucracy; Orthodox belief system and credulous attitude; lack of preparation for Climate change and Natural disaster.

Conclusion:

  • A sustainable and self sufficient village is at the core of Gandhian idea of giant oceanic circle of community life. Hence India to progress, it must transform the villages, SMART. For this to happen greater political capital has to be directed towards our villages as has been done through initiatives like Sansad Aadarsh Gram Yojna. Special care has to be taken for tribal, hilly, border and naxal affected villages as their needs are specific. In this endeavor, the main job of planning, administration and auditing must be entrusted upon village community (panchayat + Gram sabha + civil society), by real transfer of fund and functions, while providing technical hand holding and managerial support. An Integrated smart city-smart village cluster approach, organically connected (physical and digital) to each other, is the need of the hour.
  • Having said that, it must be kept in mind that, making a village SMART, does not mean making it urban like. The traditional village culture, simple way of living, natural bounty are heritage for humanity. The African proverb goes “it takes a village to raise a child”. Village is a place where human can realize true physical, cultural and spiritual potential. Hence, India need lakhs of smart villages, where people are still connected to roots, yet modern and prosperous.
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