Thursday, August 18, 2016

Smart Cities? A Long Way To Go-Narayana Murthy

BENGALURU: Infosys co-founder NR Narayana Murthy averred that India was far away from recognizing the aspiration of creating smart cities– a flagship programme presented by Narendra Modi government, as reported by The ET.

After his one-hour lecture on 'City Systems' on August 11th, he was asked why he did not talk about the smart city project, to which Murthy replied, "Since we are far, far away from smart cities, I did not talk about it,"

"I am a doer, I am not just a talker," he touted and asked the addressees to come and visit Infosys's campus in Mysore to experience a gist of a smart city. Murthy also emphasized on the lack of infrastructure in cities during the lecture organized by JSW Literature Live. "Poor infrastructure can drive away investments and talent," he said.

"Ten or twelve years ago, the need was to position Mumbai as the Asian financial centre. We are nowhere close to that dream for the very simple cause that investments are not pouring in, talents are not plainly available, productivity has plummet and growth has decelerated.”

He remarked how the city of Mumbai has been afflicted due to such laxity. Murthy spoke about how the government should cease weighing our cities with those in the developed countries, rather they should look upon emerging cites in Brazil, Indonesia and Malaysia. Since these countries are making tremendous efforts to make their cities better and smarter. The industry leader also explained how the term for directly elected mayors can be set to a minimum of five years which will enable efficient implementation of visions for the city. “It will ensure accountability”, he said. He expressed remorse by saying that currently, the presence of multitude organizations makes it complicated to fix responsibilities. He said that the cities must be modernized for higher economic growth by recognizing its socioeconomic potential. He encouraged bureaucrats and politicians to put effort for the same. After his lecture, Murthy was asked who among the politicians and bureaucrats were more detrimental, to which he replied that it was the system which had to be darned.

Positing that cities were engines of growth, he discouraged rapid urbanization and averred that urbanization did not assure continued growth, which was achievable only if we contrived the cities better. Murthy also expressed the need for being more open in order that not only Indians but the foreigners too feel abode in our cities. Our cities require spatial planning laws, planning institutions and sufficient number of skilled town planners, he added.

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