The quantum of focus on “smart cities” by India’s key institutions, be they government bodies, knowledge-based think-tanks or private sector organisations, is unprecedented. In the past year, a report by McKinsey Global Institute, an initiative by the National Association of Software and Services Companies (NASCOMM) and PricewaterhouseCooper (PwC), articles by research think tanks such as the Brookings Institution and international journals such as the Wall Street Journal have focussed on this theme, highlighting the challenges and opportunities related to building smart cities in India. This level of global attention on smart cities clearly underscores the gravity and urgency with which this concept is being treated. While India’s urban population currently is 410 million, it is projected to double by 2050, rising to an estimated 814 million. While urban India constitutes only about 32% of the country’s total population, it contributes over 60% of gross domestic product (GDP). It is projected that it will account for nearly 75% of the national GDP in the next 15 years. It is for this reason that cities are referred to as the “engines of economic growth,” and ensuring that they function as efficient engines is critical to our economic development. It is in this context that the Indian government has decided to develop 100 “smart cities” across the country. Worldwide, universities and research based institutions have played a significant role in unraveling the deepest challenges of building sustainable smart cities and arriving at sustainable solutions. It is perhaps the multidisciplinary nature of the theme and the need to align multiple stakeholders towards it that have placed universities and business schools at the forefront of this discussion. ISB now built substantial capacity to tackle the challenges related to smart cities in India through research that is both rigorous and relevant, education and training, and knowledge dissemination.
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