Smart Cities, Mobile Technologies and Social Cohesion in India

Journal article

Miklian, Jason & Kristian Hoelscher (2017) Smart Cities, Mobile Technologies and Social Cohesion in India, Indian Journal of Human Development 11 (1): 1–16.

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India’s cities are projected to grow by 300 million people by 2050, but this demographic transition may exacerbate fragile communal and infrastructural tensions. To address these challenges, the ‘Smart Cities’ agenda attempts to leverage India’s rapid embrace of technology to generate societal positive developmental outcomes in urban areas that emphasize the use of Internet and communications technologies (ICTs). However, local, regional and national government agencies struggle to balance embracing technology with inclusive development that protects civil rights and liberties. While the benefits are often stated, the acceleration of technology use in urban development can also create exclusionary cities, and many technologies that drive India’s modernization have also facilitated riots and violence between communities. This article explores these contradictions, examining scholarship on Smart Cities and ICTs in the context of the 2015–2016 Patel/Patidar agitation in Gujarat. We conclude by offering forward pathways for the Smart Cities and mobile technology agendas that support inclusive urban growth and development in India but are also mindful of civil liberties.

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