Friday, March 13, 2015

The low hanging fruits

The new BJP government at the center and the AAP government in Delhi are voted in for radical change. The so called non-performing Congress government both in the center and the state of Delhi is replaced by these new leaders. We have seen a lot of promises all round but unfortunately not lot of work. This blog would reflect on what needs to be done.

There are lot of talk about what needs to do done. But so far the BJP government has talked the talk but has not walked the talk. Recently I read a business today article whose cover story was  about smart cities in India. There is a ambitious proposal to create 100 smart cities in India in the next 10 years or so. I was introduced to this term my the BJP government's manifesto and hence was curious. I read the cover story by Business Today magazine and surprisingly still didn't understand what it was. There are lot of proposals on what needs to be done but how and when part is completely missing. I am not blaming the article, but the lack of ideas on what it is and even if its feasible is the bigger question. Wonder if its just a talk rather than action. I would like to give more time to the new government and do not want to judge them now. Even though the concept of creating smart cities is good., but the preliminary details of how and when are just as puzzling as what will be done. Wonder if it is a 50 year plan or something. Creating a society that has high-quality of living is what it intends to achieve. I am not sure, if the government can do it as the way its trying to explaining the concept of smart cities.

As soon we talk about smart cities, wind goes through your ears on what about land acquisition for it, what about getting land from poor farmer and handing them over to the developers? Handing over the land to some greedy MNC? These things come to the forefront and its often a boring rhetorical discussion where no one agrees.

Bottom line, the intention of the idea is to build a place that is just livable. Not many parts of India are like that unfortunately. For a decent living, lets come up with a list on what we need at home

1. Home with ample greenery around and within parking for 2 cars at least.
2. 24-hours of unlimited power supply
3. 24-hours of unlimited pumped-in portable water supply
4. Park in the vicinity for healthy exercising / recreation / games for children
5. Hospitals
6. Schools/Colleges
7. Quality roads and access to public transport

That's it.

We just have to create "communities" ALL around the country that has these facilities available and move people from else where to here. As soon the government helps to create this, people would be willing to move in with delight. This can be periphery of cities and villages.

Just say, I have the money to build such a community today and want to house 1000 families. Can the government of India assure me of 24/7 power and portable water? No. That is the problem.

What India needs is a "high-standard" living for MOST of its people. It is possible, smart cities can create this in BULK. But nothing stops us from doing it now in smaller cities TODAY.

Instead of coming with huge ambitious plans that don't get completed by say 10-20 years, the government of today should work on supply side of power, water and roads. That's all the people need. They can figure out the rest. The problem today is without the unlimited power, water and roads - any plan to modernize will fail. Innovation should happen in these fields and government should facilitate that. Not sure how Modi's foreign trips are going to make changes to this. There are people who want to manufacture in India, but that should take care of living standards in India. Just imagine a person is rich. He can afford to buy cars and drive. He can afford a nice garden at his home. He can afford a A/C in the entire house. The problem with the current set-up is - There isn't enough power/water/ road to create this set-up. I recently heard someone say, that India's problem is not corruption but lack of infrastructure. which sounds a nice way of thinking and could well be right.
Once we have proper infrastructure all our routine problems "go away". Believe me - it is lot easier. The entire western world has did it.. why can't we. Just that the private entrepreneur with profit motivation can alone do it. The government can't.

Even the Swach Bharat scheme introduced by the government is the symptom of the same problem - lack of infrastructure. No one wants to throw garbage on the street. But there are no dumpsters - that is the problem. No one wants to urinate on the street, when there are good, decent toilets available. Government has to find ways to facilitate the happening of these new changes.

Talking about the uncleanliness in our society is a good thing. At least the government acknowledges that it is a problem. Good start. But the way to solve it is not by make people cleaning them. No one can do it everyday. There can be awareness to not make the place "dirty". But cleaning using a broom by citizens just doesn't work. But instead what woks - Is create infrastructure where in  - it is not possible to throw garbage on street. Make road pavements in cement with greeneries so that no one take a leak there.

There are lot of low hanging fruits the government can pick up on. They will make a huge difference in every citizens life. Modernizing the railways in one great thing the government is trying to do. This is long overdue.

The following would make a huge difference. I would do it, if I was the government.

1. Multiple water projects to convert sea water to portable water. Abundant drinking water supply.
2. 24 hours of power supply. Ensure ALL cities/towns never have a power cut.
3. Upgrade ALL state road's width. make the 2-ways into 4-ways. Make the 4-ways into 8-ways. Make the 8-ways into 10 ways.
4. Complete sanitation within cities. (the villages would solve it themselves)

The municipality and corporations have been utter failures. Non-performers should be fired out and new management with professional skills at the IAS cadre level should take in-charge.

If the government take huge initiatives, the people would behave. It is all in one together. The state government has to do the bulk of heavy lifting. It is very unfortunate that the leadership is slow on making these changes.

What we need is smart communities (areas within cities). keep expanding them. A lot of things needs to be done and its high time we start acting on them.

Coming up with long term ideas are good, but doesn't make a difference except for newspaper fillings. Big ideas start small. We need to demonstrate what we are trying to achieve in a chosen city and see how it goes. Rectify and apply the formula else where. Modernize the way construction is done. The current way of building houses with cement and sand takes lot of money and time. Lot of things should be pre-fabricated buildings.

In the article, it was mentioned Barcelona is a successful smart city. There is lot of history behind that city. I am pretty sure they re-planned it, rather than re-building it from scratch. We need to do exactly that.


No comments:

Post a Comment