"We are actually the true fathers of planning in the world.¨
Pratap Padode, Founder & Director, Smart Cities Council India, spoke at the awards.
What a wonderful evening this has been! I just want to tell you what has transpired in this last one year.
Last year at the same time, I spoke about Smart Cities. That was just when our Modi Government had been formed and they had announced it in the manifesto. Little did I know, that one year later, I would be spearheading the Smart Cities Council India. During this year, I´ve heard deliberations, objections and seen frustrations. But one thing I can tell you with certainty: The challenge is huge but India is aching to be rebuilt. So the building industry here, you may feel the frustration of people, you may feel that it just looks impossible. But then, it can be done.
Vicente already showed us his presentation. One thing I´d like to say: Barcelona, in 25 years, from 1990 to 2014, jumped its tourism five times over to 7.5 million; its current tourism collection is $12 billion. So there is a return on that kind of investment that you do, the kind of city you build, the kind of changes you make, which are significant for the citizens, which give you returns. So, the government at Barcelona is not known for building smart cities just like that. There is adequate return on investment, and that´s what makes it so true and appealing. And that´s why, I feel, in our country, we need to actually laud the islands of excellence amid the lakes of frustration. Do we actually have islands of excellence? Yes we do! We have smaller islands of excellence and they are possibly scattered all over the country.
So we have Nagpur doing 24 + 7 water in a certain area; that was challenging; Pune doing solid waste management. We have Chennai doing a lot of safety control and accident control by introducing GIS management with the police.
Not only that, international majors like CISCO, IBM, who are also members of our Smart Cities Council, have actually implemented smart strategies. For instance, in Sushil Mantri´s mall in Bengaluru, there is a kiosk run by CISCO, where you can go and register an FIR. You don´t need to go to the police station; you just need to go to the mall, which has a much better ambience. People just don´t want to go to a police station to register their complaints, but you can do that here. And they are looking at multiplying this to several places.
HP too has treated 1,40,000 patients in 77 centres across India; only 25 doctors treat them and that too through a 'studio doctor' arrangement. That means they talk on video and they give second opinions, and their records, etc, are seen online. So there are innovations happening in our country and I would urge everyone to look for that. We definitely see the wrong kind of headlines in our newspapers, and what we should be seeing are these, because only when we have belief and faith in the system, will actually everybody rise and beat the challenge.
But we are actually the true fathers of planning in the world. You look at 1,500 BC Mohenjodaro, we have got extensively planned cities over there.
The step-wells they did at that time, they even exist today. There are 100 step-wells in India today and our architects have marvelled at their architecture. They go down 13 storeys. They are there in Ahmedabad, in Hyderabad. So we have actually been there, done that, and yet, somewhere along the line, we lost our way.
I think it´s time to take stock, it´s time to believe in ourselves, and it´s time that you winners of the award of 'decades of excellence' win back our glory. I would urge you to please spread this message: we are saying we are going to build smart cities, it´s going to be true, it´s going to happen. And the smart cities concept is not an elitist concept; it is an all-inclusive one. And I think we all have the depth of intelligence and wisdom to make that happen.
Congratulations and thank you.