FOR KINDER SMART CITIES :-
Context :- A smart city plan should provide for core infrastructure, which while ensuring a decent quality of life to its citizens, also focuses on a creating a sustainable and inclusive environment.
- However, while current smart city plans seem to focus on tangible outcomes that pertain to physical aspects of development.
- They fall short of addressing the requirements of the country’s human capital, including the welfare and well-being of all children.
- One such reality is the issue of migration from rural to urban centres.
Such migrations almost always include children, many of whom get displaced and end up in street situations.
Urbanising India :-
- India is urbanising fast with over 7,000 cities and towns of different population and sizes.
- The country’s cities and towns constitute 11 per cent of the world’s urban population.
- As per the UN’s projections, India’s share in the world’s urban population will rise to 13 per cent by 2030.
- Making smart cities inclusive is also consistent with Goal 11 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Reality of Children in India :-
- More than 3.6 crore children (in the age group of 0 to 6 years) live in urban areas, of whom at least 81 lakh live in slums.
- According to Save the Children’s recent report, ‘Life on the Street’, there are well over 20 lakh children on the streets of India.
- Various studies predict that 40 per cent of the country’s population will be living in cities and towns by 2030 from 31%, according to 2011 census. This, unfortunately, could increase the number of street children manifold.
Views on Child Friendly City :-
- According to the UN’s Smart City Framework, a “child-friendly city” should be a multi-dimensional and comprehensive concept, where, children are active agents and their opinion influences the decision-making process.
- Save The Children’s report, Forgotten Voices notes: “A child-friendly city is one that has a system of local governance, and is committed to fulfilling children’s rights, which include influencing decisions about the city, expressing their opinion, participating in social life, receiving basic services, walking and playing safely, living in an unpolluted environment and being an equal citizen.”
- The focus needs to be on smaller towns and cities in India. Demographic dividend will require focus on urban governance, health, nutrition, water, sanitation and education.
- Smart City concept could still include components that will make it amenable to children’s needs. It could aim to ensure that children do not end up in street situations.
- Need to realise the full potential of this section will require including children from the most vulnerable and marginalised classes in the nation-building process.
Conclusion :- Urban growth should address needs of children from poorer sections of society because addressing the needs of children in street situations, as well as other children across all smart cities, is not merely a question of their survival and dignity. It is also not merely a matter of moral responsibility. It is vital for ensuring a peaceful, prosperous and just India.
Expected Questions :-
- What measures need to be taken by Government to address children from poorer sections of society despite Urban Growth in India ?
- How a Smart City project can also turn out to be a Child friendly City ?
DRIVING TO ROAD SAFETY :-
- Why isn’t road safety taken seriously in India? Why isn’t road safety taken seriously enough by most drivers and other road users, the government authorities concerned, and education institutions like schools and colleges?
- Each year, the number of fatalities and injuries on the road ascends to a new adverse-high.
- Data on violations of road safety is getting repetitive — more than 400 deaths on roads every day, 17 deaths every hour, one death every three minutes.
Wrong approach towards Road Safety by Government :-
- The Centre and the state governments’ response to the complex nature of the road safety is mostly focused on long-term programmes.
- Their vision approach is not clubbed with the immediate task of ensuring day-to-day safety on roads and highways.
- The systems relating to ensuring effective road safety, from granting of driving licence to adherence to basic traffic norms, are riddled with age-old routine practices, lack of resources and modern tools, inefficiency, and corruption.
Need of Bold Measures by Government :-
Outsource Pre-Driving Education & Training & Licence applications :-
- To outsource pre-driving education and training as well as scrutiny of the licence applications, including testing driving skills, to certain reputed private agencies.
- Need to examine various requirements such as completion of the prescribed driving training, medical fitness documentation, cross-checking knowledge of essential traffic rules, safety norms and driving ethics, driving skills including in odd conditions and sensitive zones, consideration for pedestrians and cyclists, among others. In light of the scrutiny and recommendations, the existing RTOs will have the final authority to grant or refuse a licence.
- Undergoing a detailed pre-driving training and education programme for prescribed hours, should be mandatory. For the purpose, training schools can be selectively approved, both from the public and private sectors.
Outsourcing Roads :-
- Outsource certain highways, expressways, and important urban and rural roads for managing exhaustive road safety programmes.
- Duly authorised and backed by local police authorities, chartered private agencies should be tasked with undertaking routine and innovative measures to maintain exemplary safe conditions on the assigned roads.
- A robust refresher training programme for all road users must be built in such outsource-arrangements. This can be executed with the assistance of the driving schools and selected NGOs in various residential and institutional areas.
Focus on Accident Prone Roads & Non outsourced :-
- It would be equally important to run special road safety measures on the non-outsourced and the other known accident prone roads.
- Local authorities should notify such roads as Zones of Excellence (ZoE) in road safety, and mounting detailed safe road efforts on a regular basis.
Conclusion :- A concept of road safety would mean not only saving lives but delivering change too because a safe road sector can support high growth rates of the Indian economy. The state governments in India need to break through the hapless situation and invent their own strategies and bring about positive change in the uncontrollable fatality numbers.
Expected Questions :-
- How a Private Sector can play important role to ensure road safety in India. Justify with your statements..
- What measures can be taken by Government of India to ensure Road safety for all by involving Private Sector into this. Explain..