Everyone, in villages and cities alike, can feel the pressure of population that threatens to overwhelm the country and neutralise the economic expansion of the last quarter century. In that context, the 100 Smart Cities project of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s NDA government looks like a winner. Many of our city governments seem besieged and out of ideas as they watch the relentless, incoming tide of people seeking a better deal. The response is not even a finger in the dyke.

The Smart City Mission (SCM) is a well-timed initiative, but is the intervention enough to deal with this unprecedented expansion of the urban segment? It is expected to grow from the present 31 percent of the population to 41.8 by 2030. The question before us then is whether this staggering 73 per cent increase from 340 million in 2008 to 590 million in 2030 will continue, as it has so far, to settle informally in cities and find a fit as best it can.

Obviously the government thinks otherwise. It seeks to give us a glimpse of another possibility by upgrading 100 cities, some large, some small, to smart-city status between 2015 and 2019. The selection of the first 20 was announced on January 28. The list was headed by Bhubaneswar and ended with Bhopal. Operations got under way last month.

The smart city mission is an experiment both in setting urban priorities and governing cities. The proposed public investment in the mission is around ₹96,000 crore over five years for a hundred cities.

The project is planned to work at two levels. In will first create “smart” enclaves that are spruced up to world-class standards within cities. The second part is to create world-class infrastructure that will benefit the entire population. The underlying hope is that this beginning will have a demonstration effect that whets the appetite for improvement, which will roll out to cover both the smart city and other cities in the entirety according to a schedule to be set hereafter.

This is not the only investment to clear the urban mess. There are the Atal Mission for ₹50,000 crore and National Heritage City Development and Augmentation Yojana (HRIDAY) ( ₹500 crore). In addition, schemes such as Swachh Bharat ( ₹62,000 crore) and other sector-specific outlays for energy, water, etc., will also assist in the project. As you go through this list you realise how many programmes there are for the betterment of urban life. All are mandated de facto by the central government.

The smart city mission is different. It is an experiment both in setting urban priorities and governing cities. The proposed public investment in the mission is around ₹96,000 crore over five years for a hundred cities. The Centre’s share is estimated at ₹48,000 crore. The state governments/urban local bodies (ULB) are to match this, taking the total to nearly ₹96,000 crore. 

Is this a lot of money? Not really, given the cost of works and the problems at hand. Realising this, cities have also sought private participation, though in a limited way. If we take the average size of each city’s plan at ₹1,500 crore (this is on the low side) it would have to add to the ₹1,000 crore to come from the SCM. Much of it is available from other earmarked funds. Cities are required to work out what can come from “convergence”, i.e., taking in public cash flows administered as separate missions and incorporating them into its own smart budget. 

Pune, for example, plans a capital and operational expenditure of ₹3,000 crore. Some ₹1,000 crore will come from the SCM and ₹700 crore from other missions such as Smart Grid, Atal Innovation Mission, National River Conservation Project, FAME for buses, Housing for All, Digital India and Swachh Bharat.

Encouragingly, the city also assumes an inflow of ₹1,000 crore from monetising 10 acres owned by the Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) and “land-pooling” 70 acres of private land that is currently unoccupied and can be monetised through land pooling and greater FSI—generating at least ₹1,000 crore more as a cushion. Other sources, if required, are the diversion of capital expenditure from the municipal corporation to the Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV) that will run the mission and in addition, backed by a Fitch double-A rating, the power to fall back on loans if required.

The private sector has been assigned a role. IT connectivity, solar power, etc., are marked for public-private-partnership (PPP) investment of ₹140- ₹150 crore in Pune. At 5 per cent that is a minuscule percentage of the outlay. But other less affluent cities, Davanagere for example, see scope for 60 per cent PPP.  

The smart city mission is to be headed not by an elected executive (mayor) but an SPV, a public limited company. An appointed CEO will be in charge. Given the resources, all cities seem well funded so money should not be the problem—if delays and cost over-runs do not set in. Overcoming historically laggard ways and achieving targets would also be a feather in their cap.

A banker looking at these resources would be satisfied. Not only is the project well financed but it is well protected by the ring fence of public and private funding and, in addition, a fall back on institutional loan funding. 

Some innovations are apparent in the financial plans. Municipalities monetising their land is a departure from the past. One encouraging factor is that a local entity (SPV) will regulate land use, through zoning and town planning. Hitherto this was the preserve of state governments in non-compliance with the 74th Amendment.

This is a significant step towards fulfilling the amendment which called for devolution of funds, functions and functionaries to local bodies some 25 years ago. This and the flexibility to raise resources as a commercial entity rather than a public body would be a welcome departure from the past if the mission succeeds. There are other innovations besides finance.

What is true of Pune applies to other cities as well. Bhubaneswar has a plan of ₹4,550 crore; Lutyens’ Delhi (New Delhi Municipal Corporation) ₹1,897 crore, Davanagere (10th on the list) ₹1,307 crore, Udaipur of  ₹1,221 crore; Solapur ₹2,247 crore, etc. Their financial plans make it clear that lack of funding will not undermine their aims. The risks lie elsewhere.

 

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ow will all this money be spent? What vision drives investment and do we have any idea of the tangible and intangible returns? Any agglomeration of people leads to questions of cultural richness and fulfillment or alienation and mental imbalance—the latter supposedly not common in gentler rural environments. Much, especially Western, literature is an exposition of urban angst. The value that cities add to their residents’ lives depends on how they feel about the amenities provided. Some hold that wealth is 80 per cent of happiness. What goods and services do people want to increase their sense of well-being? In its search for answers the SCM engaged citizens in a very large way.

What are the guidelines for choices set by the Centre in Delhi for, say, remote Davanagere in Karnataka? How were they presented to citizens and what are the results? The options are mentioned in the Ministry of Urban Development’s smart city document. It says: “The strategic components of area-based development in the SCM are city improvement (retrofitting), city renewal (redevelopment) or city extension (green field development ) plus a pan-city initiative by the application of selected Smart Solutions to existing city-wide infrastructure e.g. for transport, water recycling etc.” 

It also lists the 10 core infrastructure elements that would reflect the desires of the people. These are adequate water supply, assured electricity supply, sanitation, including waste management; efficient urban mobility and public transport, affordable housing, especially for the poor; robust IT connectivity and digitalization, good governance, especially e-governance and citizen participation; sustainable environment, safety and security of citizens, women, children and the elderly; health and education.

In a revolutionary departure from the past, the selection of area and the consequent direct benefit to a small number of people are the outcome of a massive exercise in citizen engagement. 

But there is the further question of choice. And that was resolved simply by a poll. The entire city won’t be smart to begin with. The “smart” portion turns out to be small enclaves with an average spread of 3.5 sq km per city (New Delhi is an exception). So the total area for 100 cities comes to 350 sq km with an average residential population of about 50,000 or five per cent of the total population. Over 100 cities about 50 lakh people would enjoy the benefits of a smart city in the initial phase.

By itself the smart city mission affects a minuscule portion of the urban scene. Some densely packed cities like Davanagere and Solapur have selected the old city/market for development so the project would include more people but these are exceptions rather than the rule. Generally the area-based percentage as a part of the population of the municipal area varies from 1 per cent to 5 per cent. While these facts make the mission look tiny it is intended to act as an incubator and accelerant. The effect on the country could, and hopefully would, be mighty, igniting change across its length and breadth. Is there cause for hope or should we despair at the inexorable Malthusian arithmetic of scarcity of resources and press of human numbers? 

 

How were the targets arrived at? It was, in a revolutionary departure from the past, by popular choice. Both the selection of area and the consequent direct benefit to a small number of people are the outcome of a massive exercise in citizen engagement. All means available to municipalities—IT visual aids, TV, door-to-door visits, etc.—were used to reach out and get a response. This resulted in selecting, according to central government guidelines, areas and the priorities among both area development and the ten elements listed for fast track improvement in the document.

Whatever the preconceived notions of the bureaucracy or the upper echelon of urban citizenry—I thought housing followed by sanitation by health was what voters would want—the results are there for all to see.  Many would be surprised by them.

In Bhubaneswar, the city that topped the 20 selected, 2.69 lakh people or 26 per cent of the population opted for retrofitting and redevelopment of the 3.2 sq. km that comprise the town centre district. This is only 2.4 per cent of the municipal area. The span of control is a walkabout with a radius of 890 metres.

For pan-city investment a plurality of 32 per cent chose mobility. These options were based on the vision of Odisha’s capital as “a transit-oriented city with compact urban form that promoted active, connected and sustainable mobility choices”. This was followed by a 22 per cent vote for Bhubaneswar’s strengthening as an IT hub and info city.

In Pune, NGOs and private companies reached out to over 4 lakh households, more than half of the total households in the city.  It received 35 lakh inputs, plus more from those contacted through social media. The consultation resulted in the selection of 3.6 sq km or 900 acres of Aundh-Baner-Balewadi for retrofitting and redevelopment to sustain a four-fold population increase from 40,000 to 1.5 lakh by 2030. Pan-city it placed mobility as the greatest priority. Water came second.

The theme is “Livable Loveable Pune” which “aspires to become one of the most livable cities in India by making its infrastructure world class and future proof…” This is in keeping with its present status as home to multinationals such as Mercedes Benz, Toyota and other top consumer brands as well as pharmaceuticals. It also has many restaurants with exotic cuisine.

A puzzle in the pack is New Delhi (NDMC area), home of the Central Government and bureaucracy. Its method for selecting key benefits is not clear. But this is a privileged capital and the improvements required could as well be made by bureaucracy as by a vote, considering the smallness of its population.  The NDMC has divided its goals between physical, social and value infrastructure. Under the first, it intends to create a “Happiness Area for the cultural and social needs of the people”. Certainly better transport, communications and IT infrastructure would improve the lives of the work force that is the daily flux.

Such citizens’ involvement is unprecedented. Hopefully, it will show the way for local bodies presenting a menu of choices on large scale capital allocation in all future development.

Davanagere is imagined as “A City Where L.I.F.E. Nestles”. Like Solapur, it is crowded, with a population density of 6,835 per sq. km in the target area. Citizens opted for redevelopment and retrofitting, rejuvenation of 785 acres or 3.2 sq. km of the town centre including the economic hub of Mandipet market. It added the heritage and cultural centre site of the Durambika Temple to the main area. Pan-city, the first choice was smart mobility (bus stand) and the second e-governance. 

In Solapur, where 60 per cent of the population lives in 18 per cent of the area, citizens opted for 1,040 acres (3.9 sq km) comprising the inner city for retrofitting and redevelopment. An incredible 80 per cent of the city’s population of 18 lakh engaged in SCM choices. Some 35 per cent voted for cleanliness, 32 per cent for roads and transport. Pan-city: transparency in service delivery and better business environment. The city vision is “Clean, Efficient, Progressive”.

Interestingly, it lists permission from the Archaeological Survey of India to work within the prohibited zone of a listed monument and stakeholder resistance, owing to density of population, as the two main risks in achieving its objective. Even Guwahati lists traffic congestion (together with flooding) as its greatest challenge. 

Such citizens’ involvement is unprecedented. Hopefully, it will show the way for local bodies presenting a menu of choices on large scale capital allocation in all future development. Such consultation is an accepted feature of western urban governance. Polls are held to ascertain choices available to a city. Council meetings are open. For example in Sunnyvale, California (population 1.47 lakh) council meetings are televised and suggestions from citizens duly considered. At the state level California holds referendums on many issues.

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here are two salient features of the vote. First, the areas selected for improvement are not slums or other enclaves of poverty but almost universally the business centre or such pockets as will contribute to economic growth. It seems people have concluded that dependence on a neta’s largesse is not the path to prosperity; it is business and vikas that will lead to increased employment and higher incomes.

Secondly, getting about for work or social needs is the country’s biggest problem. Constriction of movement is a running theme. The grid lock has everyone in its grasp (as also in China, where the Communist Party gave up its indigenous bicycle model for American style car-based transport and hence the worst pollution in the world). The choice from the pan-city elements on offer has fallen first and foremost on mobility. Obviously, people consider poor transport and IT network unreliability the greatest barrier in their quest for higher standards.

(Tellingly, the need for increasing the green area—the landscaping of gardens, river/lake fronts and parks—reflects both the urge to break out of the claustrophobia that is closing in on our urban spaces and a desire for aesthetic relief from ugliness.)

This may come as a surprise even to those proponents of the “socialist pattern of society” limiting public aspirations to roti, kapda, makan.

Do smart cities offer an alternative to the socialist acceptance of the spread of poverty in urban areas? What vision drives the endeavour? The answer is complicated because the mission does not precisely define what it seeks to establish. 

What is meant by a smart city? “There is no universally accepted definition of a smart city. It means different things to different people… and therefore varies from country to country, depending on the level of development, willingness to change and reform, resources and aspirations of the city residents.”

It doesn’t go beyond this but opts instead to list the 10 elements (given above) that in its view comprise the solution. That makes for an impressive agenda but the vision seems amorphous. While it is probably one that would leave the bureaucrats who compiled it smiling and satisfied, one big entity is missing: happy people.


The following quote from Venus Observed illustrates the dilemma:

Reedbeck: The banquet of civilization is over----

Perpetua:  Shall we call it The groaning board?

Reedbeck: You may call it what you will.

With a little wealth to do it…


In India all progressive planning should be pegged to improving on what Naipaul held in 1976 to be a wounded civilisation. The point is whether the smart city mission will enthuse those to be blessed by its vision of a sparkling future to participate, bottom up, from poorer sections to high-tech geek, in charting its features and guiding its actions? Will such a small intervention balloon so that the country fits in with the emerging technology driven global socio-economy?

Thinking 50 years ahead—when India will be the most populous country with a pressure on land that will need genius to manage—living with and for joy under this weight will be at a premium even though the smart answer may be that if octopi can thrive in the sea at a pressure of over 300 atmospheres human beings can adapt to extreme density as well.

India may have run out of horizontal land but it hasn’t even started on the vertical space! The issue, however, is not the ability to survive anyhow on “the groaning board” but of well-being, mental and physical. What are the chances of this in a smart city? Octopi have three hearts and nine brains. Will Indian Homo sapiens—and other species to whom Earth also belongs—go through some evolution to progress from hunter-gatherer to squashed urban dweller? The answer lies both in the brick and mortar of progress as in the psychology that will emerge from the smart city mission.

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ach city has been asked to state the risks involved in implementing its proposal. To my mind the most telling insight is that of Pune:

“Execution risk: Significant governance and competency will be required to execute all 36 local area development ideas in a seamless manner…” The impact would be “Delay in project execution; significant cost overruns; potential investments being unable to create the right impact due to poor execution.” It rates the likelihood of this as “High”.

This, largely, has been the story of India since independence when government entered business in a large way. Frankly, the Pune municipality deserves an award for such forthrightness.

How does the mission propose to avoid this fate for an idea one hopes will not only succeed but shine? The SPV “will plan, appraise, approve, release funds, implement, manage, operate, and evaluate... development projects.”

To ensure that the project is to be placed in the hands of a chief executive officer (CEO) who may be selected in response to an advertisement. (An organisation chart that is a part of the New Delhi submission has an IAS officer slotted for this job.) He will also be the convener of the local board with which he is to work.

Considering the complexities of implementation and the array of authorities, the common sense conclusion is that the CEO should have a single window to process his needs. HRIDAY, for example, has such a facility. A joint secretary, the ubiquitous IAS officer in the Ministry of Urban Development is the single interface with the corridors of power. Would the mission also need one? Apparently not, as the powers to appraise and approve lie with the CEO and his board.

Cynics and sceptics are legion. Some left-leaning architects, wearing the hat of social scientists, see the smart city as “urban centres to be ruled by a Global Governance that intends to enable the multiplication of private wealth on the backs of those who need to be content with levels of prosperity where the bar is lower…” (Romi Khosla, Social Scientist April 2015).

It is ironic that our left is capable of conjuring up a capitalist plot at every turn, even in earning wages as returns to labour. They forget that the Republican candidate for the American presidency, Donald Trump, is railing against communist-ruled China for “raping” the US through currency manipulation and trade surpluses!  

However, the world is not perfect. In this country that is home to the largest number of poor people in the world, investing large sums of money in enclaves that on average would comprise only 3-5 per cent of the city is fraught with the consequence that those left behind in unsatisfactory residential arrangements would migrate to this utopia where all needs have been catered to. Even Lutyens’ Delhi under the watchful eye of the police commissioner is not free from informal clusters of people who have established a foothold in it.

Would the CEO have powers to stop such encroachment? It would defeat the purpose of the smart city if the designated areas were infiltrated and pushed back to square one by the 30-40 per cent of the population that lives in the slums. Besides, the idea of the mission is to absorb the massive influx from rural areas that is inevitable rather than to fence these people out.

The municipal commissioner of one of the selected cities told me during a discussion that not only was there a provision for accommodating four times the current population in its proposal but that the pan-city agenda envisaged a continuing engagement, rolling the mission across the entire city at a fast pace. Obviously, the salvation of the mission lies in its exponential spread. But is this likely? What is the answer to Khosla's prognostication that rather than roll out, these small enclaves would be “gated to provide protection for our emerging middle-class” that can earn substantial salaries . She says that  “[The urban dilemma] is no longer a social or political one that has to be solved by elected representatives. A smart city would have technological dilemmas and these need to be dealt with by managers”.

The view of project managers and other tech-savvy individuals is that there is a lack of organisational capacity. This competence has to be replicated a hundred times over to meet the requirements.

The municipal commissioner’s view was that turning these cities into gated communities was farfetched as there is no way India can control migration from rural areas to cities. The only way China, a country often mentioned in the dialogue, could restrict urban numbers was through the hukou system that tightly regulates migration from villages to cities. In a democracy the only way was to spread the good work outwards.

Since India does not have the hukau pass what place will law and order have in the mission’s implementation? While even small American towns have their police, law and order in India is in the hands of the state government. Just how important is enforcement?

An urban development vision to integrate multiple information and communication technology solutions in a secure fashion to manage a city’s assets. As there is inadequate infrastructure in rural areas, people flock to urban areas. However, this puts considerable strain on a city’s assets. Unless there is major improvement in a city’s infrastructure, and the assets of a city are secured, smart cities in India will remain something of a pipe dream.

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ill the structure provide significant governance and competency for the challenges posed by the risks? The view of project managers and other tech-savvy individuals is that there is a lack of organisational capacity. This competence has to be replicated a hundred times over to meet the requirements of all smart cities. Obviously, some cities will make it. Hopefully, this will be a large majority. Fortunately, two European countries, France and Germany, have agreed to partner Bhubaneswar and Pune, respectively, in implementing the mission. Both have considerable experience in developing Eco and Smart Cities. The former, for example, “has led the Alpine town of Grenoble… in emerging as the largest and most diversified project among 13 French Eco Cities”.

The latter has a scheme for Berlin but other cities have already made the grade. Friedrichshafen has tested working applications for “traffic (e-ticketing) and networked homes”. Considerable support could also be available from the corporate world. In South Korea, Cisco is handling one such initiative. (Some left-leaning architects see an East-India-Company type plot of political takeover in the involvement of the corporate world) But the extent of such cooperation would necessarily be small. Most proposals limit PPPs to about 5 per cent of the investment.

In the first week of March the mayor of the German smart city of Heidelberg, Dr. Eckart Wuerzner, gave a talk on what made things work in this medieval university town of 40,000. There was only one magic input: governance. He was elected to office for eight years and says all that happens in his ward is with the consultation of the citizens.

 The city is not run by a public company that is a separate entity from the municipality. Rather, the mayor consults and implements the expressed priorities of the electorate.  Why should India take a different path?

At this point an Abraham Lincoln question arises: will the governance of our new urban spaces be of the people, by the people and for the people? The Mission’s answer is mixed and in my opinion rightly so. Democratic local governance is not a success across the country and to expect that the `48,000 crore plus more budgeted for this project will show up as smart assets  in their grip is to hope for a moral reform that the country does not have time to wait for.

The CEO would not be of the people but his advisory council would be. It would include the district collector, MP, MLA, Mayor, CEO of the SPV, local youths, technical experts, and representatives from either a residential welfare associations and slum federation, or mahila mandirs. This makes for a strength of at least eight members. The list of interests they represent is wide but it may be noted that there is not a single representative from the business community, which will be expected to generate the revenue and employment to keep the show going.

 Are the programmes selected by the people? Perhaps unequivocally so. It is citizen engagement of a whole cross section chosen by referendum. Will the outcome be “for the people?” This is a tricky question. It depends on whether the area-based approach ends in gated communities. If so the area-based projects would benefit only a certain segment while the pan-city projects cater to the entire city.

The mission will be monitored at the national level by an Apex Committee (AC) headed by the secretary MoUD; at the state level by a High Powered Committee (HSPC) chaired by the chief secretary. Hopefully this will ensure stability.

One hopes for the success of this model else the present malaise will only intensify. And further one sees no option and hopes that a small start will lead to larger benefit. But there is an aspect that still needs thought and action.

  

Not long after the selection of first-round winners in the smart city contest, the Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), a global initiative for the United Nations, published the 2015 World Happiness Report. Switzerland was listed as the happiest followed in the top five by Iceland, Denmark, Norway and Canada.

“India has not fared well in a global ranking of the happiest nations, coming in at the 117th spot out of 158 countries on the index that took into account GDP per capita, life expectancy, social support and freedom to make life choices as indicators of happiness.”

India ranked below nations like Pakistan (81), (so much for the win in T20 matches) Palestine (108), Bangladesh (109), Ukraine (111) and Iraq (112). Its rank dropped six notches from the 2013 report, when it was 111.

“Increasingly, happiness is considered a proper measure of social progress and goal of public policy,” the report said, adding the happiness index describes how measurements of well- being can be used effectively to assess the progress of nations," the report says.

Has the smart city mission taken this on board or is its thinking limited to fulfilling the physical needs listed by it? Is it assumed that the gain in these areas will lead to the alleviation of oppression in urban life for the majority and that India will move some notches up in the happiness table?  What are the chances?

Something has gone seriously amiss, with climate change, policy interference, e.g., on cattle, low agricultural yields, continued division of holdings, etc., adding to rural misery. This leaves villagers little option but to migrate (see Marathwada despite MNREGA) to towns and get a foothold in the squalid shanties that have mushroomed on their peripheries.

Some of these carbuncles are built on rubbish heaps and other health hazards, e.g., Bulund Masjid in Delhi ; others by the side of treacherous waste dumps, e.g., Deonar in Mumbai. Every place with a, say, one lakh population has these depressing excrescences. Hazards of one sort or another are inbuilt in the model.

What alternative do smart cities propose for this awfulness?

While it is easy enough to enumerate the physical parameters it is not as if there are no local bodies in these cities. All have municipalities yet there is no application of mind to alleviating distress. The question again is one of the mindset and governance. The NDA is to be commended for at least placing cleanliness on the table. But two years into Swach Bharat, for which we pay a surcharge on taxes, what is visible on the surface as their achievement is dumps so toxic that even scavenging vultures have given up the ghost and vanished. What is below the surface is even more horrific: sewage contaminating underground aquifers.

Lutyens’ Delhi is at the head of all cities. And the 330-acre Rashtrapati Bhavan is the crown. In this area, above ground the air is so threatening that the Indian Express recently ran a series titled "Death by Breath" on Delhi. Dogs and monkeys foster rabies in the capital. On March 25, The Times of India reported that the Rajya Sabha was informed that: “Over 64,000 cases of dog bites have been reported in the national capital till November this year” …The three municipal corporations and the Council also reported 1,823 cases of monkey bites in the same period…NDMC is setting up three sterilisation centres for dogs at Udyog Nagar in association with six NGOs. The corporation has also deployed monkey catchers, the minister said.” Since the NDA to power, cows are back sharing the road with cars. No odd-even scheme applies to them! 

And looking at the NDMC’s desire to spread happiness, a troop of rhesus macaques has also invaded the president’s residence. Photographs of them in the Mughal Gardens can be accessed on the Internet. At this point in the unpleasantness one must add etc., as the list is long and is lengthening. Our first citizen is exposed to the danger of rabies and Lutyens’ palace is no guard against polluted air. In fact the President has spoken about this on more than one occasion.

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aving adumbrated the salient features of this Gothic terror one may attempt a definition of a smart city. I hope I will get kudos for rushing in where angels fear to tread. We need a definition of a Smart City to measure the proposals against.  I have the following to offer: “A smart city is an urban space that harmonises the civilisational requirements of all that dwells in it by providing living conditions conducive to their social mobility from their station when they enter it, to the point that they aspire for in an expanded horizon. Enhancing, in the process, the aesthetics, environment, happiness, health, prosperity and progress of its denizens from one generation to the next.”

This gives us the measure to monitor both the fulfillment of the desires (including the yen for excellent architecture and landscaping) of existing residents and immigrants alike. The quality of the tangible assets promised by the mission should add to the happiness. Lutyens planned New Delhi, Le Corbusier Chandigarh. The foreign hand should be allowed to return in partnership or competition with the Indian. The smart citiy mission should have a desire to please, which is at the bottom of all perceptions of beauty. If the whole  act is not put together—dog to man; air to water; art to eye, rose to nose, music to  ear—the efficacy of the investment per capita through all the income-deciles of the population would not show. New Delhi has a plan for a happiness centre. Aspirations will not be fulfilled if others don’t.

On a parting note one may take notice of a major social concern world-wide, the growing inequality of income and wealth that is a characteristic of great increase in GDP since the coming of the digital age and free trade. Under the sub-head “America’s most successful cities, states and firms are leaving the rest behind”, The Economist of March 12 reported that “Between 2010 and 2014 America’s population grew by 3.1 per cent; its cities by 3.7 per cent. But the richest cities swelled by 9.2 per cent.”

There is a lesson for this for the SCM: success invites an influx. Leaving aside the fringe of extreme right-wing (most noticeably Republicans in the US) it is now the object of state policy in most countries to seek a redistribution of wealth. Will smart cities be able to do so or will the Indian left prove  to be prophetic?

Hopefully not. Something has to work.