If you were ask in India what is the current buzzword, supported by marketing efforts of course, you would get Make in India, Digital India, Smart Cities among some more floating on the social net.
All of a sudden we are considering being “Smart”. Silently we whisper to each other “What is meant by Smart”? Is what is meant “Smart” by them the “Smart” we understand? (Do we really?) We then look up to the architects of the word and ask , “What is Smart?”.
The self appointed architects reply with a mock shock,
“You don’t know?… “See.”
They point towards a country and its city demonstrating some glass, shiny metals and a lot of automation technology.
“Oh!” We look amazed at the trains that go on hyper speed and the doors that open and shut automatically, sensors that send information ahead to someone and someone or something who supposedly makes life simpler in this maze of productivity with people like working ants going about their jobs.
“We can do that?!” we look on mesmerized, silently wonder how many potholes we have avoided that day and how much water to expect in the municipality tap. This smart city appears to look like heaven.
“We can accomplish that?”, We ask again in disbelief!
Nods the architect. “A few trillions here and there, but it is possible.”
“Where are the Trillions coming from?” we ask still in disbelief.
“FDI mostly. Fourteen countries have shown interest.”
We whistle in further disbelief.
“Wow! Fourteen countries will tell us how to live smartly.” Impressed at the achievement. We close the latest edition of Shiv Puraan. Old Sops of life. Lets embrace the new.
“Who..”, we ask further, “..would be living in these smart cities?”
“Smart citizens.” They answer. “Smartly qualified with smart education”.
“How..” we ask, “Would you find these smart citizens?”
The architects now loose patience at this inevitable question and blurt.
“You have too many questions! You are not Gift-ed. You are certainly not smart and don’t qualify to stay in a smart city!”
Disappointed, we start looking at the map and looking for the other non smart cities to live in.
“Don’t worry,” the architects console, “We may be working towards an inclusive society where even the lower income group can be accommodated.”
We breathe a sigh of relief. When we go to discuss this at our daily pavement dwellers meeting over a boiling broth of today’s Dal, most have the same question:
“Will the pavements be really clean? They won’t trouble us every six months for pavement leveling?”.
“We don’t know about clean, but they promise they will be smart.”
“Smart?” asks the pavement mother, cradling one kid on her lap and another suckling on her breast.
We go on to explain what is meant by “Smart”.
“See….” we point towards that country with that city gleaming in the night.
The pavement dwellers rub their eyes in disbelief.
( to be continued.)