India launches ‘smart cities’ challenge

By on 03/07/2015 | Updated on 04/02/2022
India's Prime Minister Narendra Modi leads the Appointments Committee of Cabinet

India’s government has launched a country-wide ‘Smart Cities’ competition which will hand out five-year grants worth around $7.5bn to winning cities to help them promote progressive urban planning, improve governance, and strengthen their infrastructure.

Prime minister Narendra Modi announced the initiative on 25 June, which is led by the Ministry of Urban Development and will be conducted in partnership with knowledge partner Bloomberg Philanthropies. Each of India’s 29 states will have until the end of this month to put forward cities for the contest.

Out of these, just 100 will be chosen by the government in August to be able to enter the competition. These 100 cities will then have until October to formulate their vision of how to become ‘smart cities’, which, according to the government’s guidelines, “take advantage of new tools and partners to improve the quality of life for residents; embrace ideas that have been proven elsewhere and customise them to meet genuine local needs; and explore, refine, and revise their ideas until they get it right.”

By December this year, a first round of winners will be announced, along with a shortlist of around 20 cities, which will receive government support to improve their ideas and to be entered in a second competition round. The winners of the second round will then be revealed by April next year.

But, there will be yet another competition cycle for those that did not make it.

Michael R. Bloomberg, founder of Bloomberg Philanthropies and former mayor of New York City, said: “Prime minister Modi recognises the vital role cities can play in building a strong future for India, especially if local innovation is encouraged and rewarded.

“Through our work around the globe, we’ve seen how effective challenges can be in helping cities design and deliver better ideas.”

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About Winnie Agbonlahor

Winnie is news editor of Global Government Forum. She previously reported for Civil Service World - the trade magazine for senior UK government officials. Originally from Germany, Winnie first came to the UK in 2006 to study a BA in Journalism & Russian at the University of Sheffield. She is bilingual in English and German, and, after spending an academic year abroad in Russia and reporting for the Moscow Times, Winnie also speaks Russian fluently.

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