ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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Smart Cities Need Smart Villages

The current Smart Cities Mission needs to be linked to India’s villages. The lacuna in the current mission mandate can be filled by directly addressing the opportunities provided by renewable off-grid production to increase employment and diversification in the rural economy, with a particular focus on India’s rural youth.

 

Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the Smart Cities Mission in 2015 (>Economic Times 2015), calling for a celebration of urbanisation. He hailed the mission as an opportunity to bring in “smart” interventions to upgrade India’s growing cities. We make the case that smart cities need smart villages, for a spatial shift in India will require higher agricultural productivity, more energy (particularly renewable off-grid energy production), and diversification into non-agricultural income-generating activities (for instance, food processing, construction, businesses, and services) to sustain such a mission.

We argue that current urbanisation trends in the context of the global goal of sustainable energy for all, bringing together the seventh goal of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, raise questions for employment and sustainability policies. This important agenda is difficult to achieve due to the lack of affordable finance for companies, and the perverse costs associated with production of electricity and the current set of global energy subsidies. The largest subsidies are accounted for by coal, and it is estimated that reversing the situation by doing away with energy subsidies in both high-income and low-income countries, could increase global government revenue by 3.6% of current global gross development product (GDP) (Coady et al 2015). In the case of India, currently, coal fires more than half of the power stations. A shift to renewable energy could reduce India’s carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions. Furthermore, it could be the basis for expanding job creation in India, and the solar and wind sector have already created nearly 70,000 domestic jobs (The Climate Group 2015).

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Updated On : 26th Mar, 2018

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