“Skills, Scale and Speed Will Bring Effective Change in Urban-Rural Rejuvenation in India”

Nidhi Bahl updated on : 17 Jul 2015

Mr. Venkaiah Naidu, Minister for urban development, unfolds the vision behind the national agenda of Smart Cities at ‘Smart City: Delivery of Civic Services’, a conference by Vijnan Bharati at Welingkar Institute in Mumbai.

Seen in the picture are from L to R: Dr. Uday Salunkhe, Director, Welingkar Institute of Management Development & Research (Addressing the audience), Prof. Dr. Suhas Pednekar, President, Vijnan Bharati, Shri Arun Nana, Chairman, Mahindra Lifespaces Developers Ltd., Dr. Madhav Chitale, Chief Mentor, Laureate & Eminent Environmentalist & Renowned Thinker on Habitat Issues, Shri Venkaiah Naidu, Union Minister, Urban Development, GoI, Shri S Ramadorai, Chairman, National Skill Development Agency and Shri Vivekanand Pai, National Secretary, Vijnan Bharati.


The inaugural function of conference was truly a reflection of what India thinks and aspires as it brought together various Government and Semi Government agencies, Multinational and Indian companies, NGOs and many stake holders to address the issues related to ‘Smart City’, with a special focus on the "Delivery of Civic Services" to its citizens. This debate has attained special importance due to Prime Minister's grand vision of 100 Smart Cities.

Prof Dr Suhas Pednekar, Principal, Ruia College, and President of Vijnan Bharati (Mumbai) welcomed the audience, “Vijnan Bharati proposes to form an advocacy group on the Smart City agenda set by Prime Minister Narendra Modi. As this conference is primarily mean to address the issues of stakeholders, I am confident the findings on the grass root level issues are projected to the policy makers and the smart city vision of the Prime Minister is pragmatically delivered to the stake holders”.

Shri Vivekananda Pai, National Secretary, Vijnan Bharati, elaborated on the role of the organization in using the ancient Indian wisdom in the form of ‘Swadeshi’ sciences as Yoga, Ayurveda. “We believe that the Bharat model of Smart City will consider the local dynamics to establish its own, unique identity”.

As Shri Arun Nanda, Chairman, Mahindra Lifespaces Developers Ltd. discussed the problems of the migration of large number of people from rural to urban spaces in search of opportunities, he also outlined the successful experiments carried out by him to create the modern, yet affordable habitat to meet the expectations and needs of this young educated population. “Infrastructure development and economic growth should go hand in hand. We have the talent, we must lead with vision and insight," he added.

Prof Dr Uday Salunkhe, Group Director, WeSchool, outlined the Role of educational institutions in the participation in the National agenda. “The role of education is crucial and critical in fulfilling the objectives on the National agenda. As collaborators with creative mindsets, our role is beyond degrees and getting placements for our students. We believe in   nurturing students as responsible citizens, not confined by local paradigms but equipped with a global mindset and thus develop an ecosystem where learning is forever. Smart cities need smart education.”

"Smart Education will lead to Smart Citizens leading to Sustainable Smart Cities. Hence, the role of the education sector is critical in this process.

“Skilling and Reskilling is the Mantra for bringing transformation in Self, Organization and Society. WeSchool has been communicating to students and the community at large the Importance of design, Design thinking and innovation in shaping products, services, customer experiences, business models and society.This has been through Workshops jointly with IDEO, MIT Media Labs, ICSID, Indo-Swedish Energy program and a number of such initiatives which seek to stimulate innovation in various aspects of business and Society. We are a social transformational lab and are happy to join hands with you in taking the national agenda forward,” he added.

Padma Bhushan Shri S Ramadorai, Chairman, National Skill Development Council, the Guest Of Honour, said, “Smart cities must ensure quality of life for its citizens be it in place of work, entertainment, health, accommodation and others. It must be safe, reliable and must guarantee service consistency. Smart citizens must be equipped with technological skills to take advantage of the facilities on offer.”

Dr. Madhav Chitale, eminent environmentalist & habitat expert, emphasised in the need for partnership between the Government, academic, Private Sector, Professionals, Community and Media. There shared a renewed social ethos will form the foundation for Smart cities and new urban centre will also need to be created for migrant population and shared the need to transform the old cities into modern, efficient and sustainable cities for the future.”

While the eminent speakers touched upon the themes like infrastructure, social infrastructure, technology, governance and environmental  sustainability, Shri Venkaiah Naidu, Union Minster Urban Development went on the describe the vision of the government behind setting the ambitious agenda behind Smart city, in his usual simple, outspoken manner sprinkled with a good bit of humour.

“Urbanization is a reality. As cities progress and grow, people from rural areas are flocking to it to avail of the numerous opportunities. The theme of ‘Smart City: Delivery of Services’ is pertinent how a smart city gives benefits to its citizens? The Indian youth will have a big role to play in this as we are fortunate to have this huge pool of talented resource, we only need to give it upgradation in skills.”

‘Smart cities need smart leadership that has vision, conviction, takes decisions and Action. But will that be enough? We need to change our mind-set and stop depending on government for doing everything. By bringing change in civic sense and governance, ensuring transparency and accountability, ending corruption through adaption of smart solutions we will see reforms setting in for urban-rural rejuvenation. He ended his speech amidst a thunderous applause for the audience.

The two day conference at WeSchool aims to deliberate upon following themes to enable cities to promote economic growth that is inclusive, achieve human development goals and attain environmental sustainability.

Physical Infrastructure: Transportation and mobility, water distribution, power generation & distribution, infrastructure finance.
Social Infrastructure: Housing, Healthcare, education & skill development, quality of life (culture, leisure, recreation
Environmental Sustainability: Green technologies for built environment, city and resource management, air pollution, water, waste management, land policy.
Technology & Governance: Systematisation, security, disaster management, access, interface, reliable and scalable technologies, delivery of services.

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