CONCEPT OF A SMART VILLAGE

Mahatma Gandhi said that India lives in her villages. The growth indices of post-independence democratic India show a widening divide between village development promised and development achieved. In toto, 700,000 Indian villages & 800 million village inhabitants have experienced minimal development since Independence (1947). Lack of opportunities in villages initiates mass exodus and unmanageable stress on cities. India is rapidly becoming a young country left with large number of rural unskilled people who will need jobs in near future. At least half of them are below 25 years of age, addicted to internet and technology; however, there is no way they can be taught the most efficient use of technology for the growth of their own community unless there is a systematic effort to do so. Hence young people prefer migrating to cities in search of better paying jobs, efficient commuting options and decent education. In this zero-sum-game villages suffer cultural loss, natural resources exploitation & family fragmentation.

In order to maintain an appropriate balance of development, it is necessary to invest in villages and this investment should not be restricted to constructing roads and buildings alone but also in areas that improve overall quality of life through better employment opportunities, healthcare facilities, educational infrastructure, alternative and sustainable livelihood sources, judicious and effective use of natural resources and participative governance.

We need to invest in SMART (Sustainable, Measurable, Affordable, Replicable and Technologically-advanced) villages that improve overall quality of life with better infrastructure, healthcare, education, sustainable livelihood options, judicious use of natural resources with participative governance.

We have come out with seven pillars for SMART villages:

1.     Sustainability- Ever Evolving and Adapting

2.     Quality- Low on cost high on quality development paradigms

3.     Functionality- Reasonable and rational needs of life

4.     Equity-Sufficiency for all before superfluity for some

5.     Chancity- Chance not charity

6.     Humanity- No caste creeds religions and barriers

7.     Equality- Gender disability

These pillars of SMART should be strengthened across following areas of growth to make the growth all-encompassing and overarching. These are

6.     Eco-friendly Carbon Neutral Development

7.     Public Welfare (Health, Education)

8.     Participatory Governance

9.     Knowledge Dissemination

10.   Sustainable Community Development

1.     Sustainable Economy

2.     Sustainable Habitat

3.     Equitable Natural Resource Management

4.     Infrastructure Development

5.     Digital Infrastructure

 

If villages become SMART, culture will be preserved,biodiversity will be preserved and protected, preventing further habitat fragmentation and loss, migration would reduce and there will be more peace, harmony and equity.