India has become a global leader in pursuing smart city initiatives. Critics, though, are worried that most of India’s population, which still resides in villages, are being left out. Rjasthan Governor Kalyan Singh criticized India’s flagship Smart City initiative as being inadequate and insufficient for India’s smaller population centers. Singh urged the government, instead to develop smart villages to improve India’s overall economic growth.
“Villages rather than cities need to be made smart for the overall progress and development of the country,” said Singh at a recent event in Kota.
“Without making the villages smart, nation cannot become developed and progressive.”
Recent population statistics indicate that the vast majority of Indians live in villages, with 70% of India’s 1.25 billion people considered villagers.
He argued that because the bulk of Indians live in villages governments are neglecting a critical opportunity to both improve economic potential and basic services by creating smart villages. He pointed out that most villages lack essential infrastructure like roads, electricity and drinking water.
India’s central government launched their Smart Cities Mission last year, a huge urban renewal and retrofitting program with a mission to develop 100 cities all over the country making them citizen friendly and sustainable. Under Prime Minister Narendra Modi , the government’s vision is the development of 100 smart cities as satellite towns of larger cities and modernization of existing mid-sized cities.
Federal ministries work with state and municipal governments on the smart cities initiative, but a focus on smaller villages would probably require state government leadership. Governor Singh added that he recently spoke with the state’s chief secretary to encourage government development initiatives be focused on the smaller population areas to create smart villages.