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25 Apr 2024, Edition - 3208, Thursday

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Bits and Pieces 4 – The Art of Being Smart

Covai Post Network


All of us want to be smart – be it the way we look, or the way we behave. More importantly, we want others to think that we are smart. Our love for smartness reflects in the prefixes that we now find everywhere – smart phones, smart gadgets, smart cities…! We want the world around us to be a smart and easy place to live in.

My friend once told me that the “tell me who your friend is and I’ll tell you about yourself” is as true as “tell me the place where you come from and I’ll tell you about yourself.” Though pretty generic, it makes sense. Let me further refine my friend’s logic. Today, a city’s image is carried by its people and the people’s image, in turn, is carried by the city they live in! If a city (a comprehensive unit consisting of its people, government, and private and voluntary agencies) decides to focus at environmental conservation and increasing the green cover, it, in due course of time, develops into a green city. If it decides to concentrate on industrialisation, it assumes the same character and becomes an industrial hub. This holds good for any aspect that the city chooses to focus on.

Irrespective of the dream and the canvas, the smartness of our place essentially begins with the well-being and the happiness of the people who live there. Ensuring the happiness and well being of the citizens is the first step towards making our place smart. Our dreams, visions and solutions to the city’s problems should essentially be made keeping in mind these two factors, among an array of other criteria that are required to make a place smart.

Also equally important is equity, as the goals achieved at the end of achieving ‘smartness’ would bring in economic components like public good, and free ridership into play.

The results of achieving a goal should be perceivable for a long time. They shouldn’t be a one-season accomplishment with a very short shelf-life. It’s easier to define the goals in one word – sustainable, and making it possible is what smartness is all about. It is this ingredient that separates the Big “Smart” boys from the Small “smart” boys! The public utilities that we enjoy today should also reach our future generations, and shouldn’t become a part of their history lessons on digital screens.

All of us can talk big talks, come up with smart solutions, propose national and international best practices, suggest ultra-modern trends and grand ideas, but at the end of the day, when the average Joe opens the tap at home, water should flow from it. When he needs to travel, he should comfortably reach his destination on time! That’s all that matters. This is where our goals should take us to – the point of uninterrupted service delivered to the common man.

Albert Einstein was once supervising an examination. The question papers were handed over to the students. When the students opened the question papers they were surprised and shocked. The paper was an exact repeat of the previous year’s questions. When this was brought to Einstein’s notice, he replied, “The questions may be same as last year but their solutions and answers are different. You can apply your mind and thought, and give your original answers.”

We are in a very similar situation today. Most of our city’s problems are not new – be it the water supply, waste management, transportation or infrastructure. Our problems are the same but our solutions need to be different. Our solutions need to be futuristic. Our solutions need to be SMART!

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