31. Current Affairs 2012 November Third Week unit 4 Posted on November 24, 2011 by Prof. Rao This issue will deal with the concept of Smart Cities and Better Governance in India
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The biggest head ache in Bangalore is regular traffic jams. Every one is affected and much time is wasted. A lot of help came from Mr.Mahesh, a very inventive entrepreneur who argued that mobile density is a good indicator of traffic density. Air tel agreed to share the information with him since Mahesh wanted only a general density and not information regarding a particular Mobile phone. Mahesh then started working with the Traffic Police.Mahesh also made use of GPS data from taxis and videos from 18o powerful cameras. The Bangalore Police gives its police Blackberry handsets and when it finds more than normal traffic density at any particular place, it can direct its traffic cops to that place and clear the jam,
Mahesh also got in touch with the Transport Department and helped realignment of bus routes to reduce traffic on certain routes. Mahesh uses the devie of MapUnity. It keeps track of traffic violations, the number of the vehicle that is violating traffic and this has increased the revenue of the Police.
MapUnity is a Smart device and it keeps track of water leaks, garbage truck movement through the GPS ( and sees that the Garbage trucks dump the watste at the landfills they are supposed to). The device keeps track of energy management and prevent waste of electricity.
Real Estate developers have caught on to the concept and seven smart cities are coming up along the Delhi Mumbai corridor. Smart city Projects are seen not only as Technology Projects but also as management Projects. Large Software companies like IBM, Accenture, and Cisco are concentrating on planning the necessary software fr Smart cities. They are helping to optimizing delivery of services like power, water, traffic, health etc., Indeed the concept of Smart Cities is taken by enthusiastic private companies and enlightened citizens. The most notable is WaveCity in Ghaziabad near Delhi.
Wavecity is the pioneer and forerunner of Smart cities. It is being built on a 4800 acre plot. Lavasa (Pune), the controversy ridden place, is another Smart city . Sensors at the Smart city will provide real time inputs to a control centre on clean water, energy, transport services, public safety, energy services, education etc., Emergencies can be responded to immediately. Seven Smart cities are currently coming up along the Mumbai Delhi Corridor. a separate dedicated corridor also being built to move cargo traffic along this route quickly.
It should be noted that every minute twenty Indian cities are moving into the cities from their villages. This will amount to more than 140 million people in a decade and by then the cities will have 700 million people. It is very difficult to transform old cities into Smart cities. India will therefore have to look to new cities. There are 20 Mega Cities in the world of which Five are in India. And there is no central control in these cities.
And revenue from these old cities is just 2 percent of the Government revenues. And even his is wasted. The Twelfth Finance Commission noted that municipal expenditure is just 0.75 % of the GDP while other countries spend mre than 4.5 % of the GDP . Smart city buildings can be asssessed for taxes efficiently. BOOZ estimates that India would need 1.1 Trilliion rupees to build Smart cities. Investment will come when investment oppportunties emerge. The task is to pplan for them .
India has to start from the bottom, at the micro level. it has to harness its IT potential wisely and not be satisfied with revenues from body shopping outside. we do not need outsourced business. there is enough business opportunity here in India. Thus let us start using the apartments for a start with equipment to produce solar power for eectricity and start building grids .
Smart City Leaders Need Better Governance Tools: Smart City Governance Brings New Opportunities For Tech Providers :
– Forrester Research
Interest in smart cities has taken off like wildfire. Cities of all sizes navigate the challenge — growing demand for new constituent services within increasingly constrained budgets — and try to identify potential solutions to their cities’ woes. The combination of critical urban pain points and vendor enthusiasm to address them has resulted in a proliferation of point solutions: emergency response integration, traffic congestion alleviation, waste and water management, smart buildings, smart grids, etc. The key to being a truly smart city, however, lies in bringing these systems together, creating an integrated approach to city governance as a whole. City leaders are embracing governance tools, and we expect that adoption will grow. The opportunity for tech vendors and service providers lies in facilitating smart governance — offering cloud and shared services models for business applications, providing integration and cloud management services, and generally facilitating the coordination and collaboration among city departments and city leadership.
Smart Cities: Municipal Networking, Communications, Traffic/Transportation, and Energy
Many municipalities are exploring the Smart City concept. They may be installing municipal wireless networks; implementing e-government initiatives by providing access to city departments and initiatives through web sites; integrating public transportation with Intelligent Transportation Systems; or developing ways to cut their carbon footprints and reduce the amount of recyclables that are consigned to the trash heap.
This study clarifies the meaning of the term “Smart City” through an examination of more than 50 actual Smart City projects around the world. It also provides insights and data from a range of ABI Research studies that cover many of the technologies that can be used to make a municipality and its various agents more communicative and responsive to its citizenry, while allowing its transportation and other infrastructures to use energy more efficiently and cost-effectively.
The concept of ‘smart’ seems to rotate around 6 main arenas, based on their regional competitiveness: smart mobility, smart economy, a smart environment, smart living, smart people and smart governance. A smart city seems to pioneer innovative measures to achieve a city with low carbon use and high quality of life, high economic value, well networked technical energy systems and maintain low fossil use, which all reaches beyond provisional environmental targets.
On Good Governance: Good Governance demands a radical change in attitudes: Politics must no longer be regarded as a tool for money making by misuse of state power. Rather it should be regarded as a means to mediate between the people and the state for the larger good. Sadly tis attitude is lacking. The USA and Europe regarded politics as only a money making tool and have come to great grief. They are in a sorry state. Occupy Wall street movement is just a symptom. Sooner or later people will explode. It is high time that Inda learnt a lesson from them and avoids going to he digs. Yet there seems to be no light. I see some sense in Anna Hazare’s comment: Just one slap!, when he was told that somebody slapped Pawar. Not that I advocate violence but I want people to imagine what else will happen when he ruling class is involved in a Scam a Day.
Unreformed politics will choke off India’s growth potential. Reform it and you will be surprised at the incredible growth India is capable of. How politics can damage an economy is playing out in Europe right now, with the Americans giving them close competition for best performance. India cannot afford to go down this path.
Mr. T.K.Arun in his Agenda for renewal: reform Rotten Politics published in the Economic Times of 24th Nov 11, argues for two important changes in India’s politics. if it wants Good Governance. He advocates a reform of political funding and strongly urges that Political Parties must be democratised and made accountable.
In India, corruption is not opportunistic or incidental. It is systemic; without it, politics would break down. This great Indian democracy that all of us are so proud of is funded, at present, by the proceeds of corruption. Running political parties and waging electoral battles call for a lot of money. That money has to be, is raised. But political parties file accounts that show a tiny fraction of their actual income. And their actual income is a tiny fraction of the totality of funds that political leaders collect, the bulk of it going to their own personal fortunes. This must change. Every paisa spent by any political party must be traceable to its origin. There should be an institutional
arrangement to enforce that traceability.
Political parties fund themselves in three ways: loot the exchequer, sell state patronage or extort from the public.
The ruling party can loot he exchequer and make money out of state patronage. No body knows how much money Mayawati has looted from te MNERGA. No one knows how much money was looted from the Commonwealth Games. And no one knows how much money the BJP wallas made from their spree of notification and de-notification. And it claimed to be a party with a difference and went on rath yatra to end corruption.
And any party or group of independents who can tilt the scales of power, has an opportunity to loot. Look at how much money the
DMK Ministers made from the Spectrum and what havoc the independents caused in Karnataka.
There are many ways to loot the exchequer. Inflating the cost of state-funded projects and pocket the illicit payments later. Tempt the Panchayat Raj representatives with a share in the loot and misuse development funds.
State patronage that can be sold takes many forms, from transfers and posting to grant of mining leases, valuable land or scarce licences. Closing a blind eye to theft of power or land-grab by party loyalists also falls in this category. Extortion takes many forms, ranging from speed money, bribes to get a power connection or sundry clearances, to release a payment from the exchequer, register a piece of land, etc.
And politicians cannot do all this without the collusion by civil servants. Once they are also made to share the loot they start making money on their own, all the way down the hierarchy. Accountability breaks down. The only way to end harassment of the common man by extortionate public servants is to re-establish accountability, beginning at the top. If the political boss is not corrupt, he can sack the corrupt administrator working under him. If those at the top of the administrative hierarchy are clean, and there is no patronage of the corrupt babus at the lower level by political bosses, corruption will disappear from daily life, and rise to the rarefied altitude of top-level policymaking.
Now, the political boss cannot be reformed through moral suasion. Nor can he be deterred by the fear of being caught – if funds have to be mobilised through corrupt means, he will raise those funds, Lokpal or no Lokpal. That is why the key reform is reform of political funding.
Every political party should be asked to file a detailed account of income and expenditure and the sources from which funds were obtained on a regular basis. This should be available on line and through RTI. The Election commission should be required to regularly scrutinize it. This should be open to challenge, by other parties, watchdog groups, the media.
All this income and expenditure should be aggregated at the national level and this would enable the public to get at the source of political funds. And with the IT resources at our disposal, it should be possible to do this on time.
India also needs a law to regulate political parties, make them hold internal elections and maintain detailed books of accounts. Disqualify parties that do not comply.
What such a system will do is not to banish corruption at one stroke but make it possible for an enterprising group to make exposing corruption its principal political plank. Competition from such groups is the only way to end institutionalised corruption.
Another desirable political reform is proportionate representation. It would reduce the need for individual politicians to mobilise personal war chests. But cleaning up political funding need not wait for consensus to emerge on this far-reaching reform.
This change cannot be initiated without either the Congress or the BJP taking the lead. If either takes the plunge, and kicks off a process of transparent resource mobilisation and subjects itself to unilateral scrutiny, the other would be forced to follow suit. Then, legislation to regulate parties and their conduct would be easy.