I remember reading the report of a recent survey according to which Vienna in Austria is the most livable place on earth (for the eighth year in a row). It said that there is a never ending wealth of things to do, while the city is also abundant culturally and musically. That got me thinking about a lot of things, especially concerning the city of my birth and the city of my dreams, New Delhi, and how its environment contributes to its position in such surveys and how its steadily going up the charts because of the efforts of citizens and a lot of organizations.
Our environment contributes to the way we live our lives everyday – the people we connect to, the places we work, the air we breathe and even our over all perception of life as we know it. That brought to mind Vodafone’s recent steps in this direction, so that Delhi’ites can live a super life, and many thoughts around cities, ancient and modern, and everything that make them wondrous as they are. I decided to write a blog post about it.
What is a city?
Let’s explore this topic slowly, by first starting with what is actually a city. A city is a large human settlement. Cities generally have extensive systems for housing, transportation, sanitation, utilities, land use, and communication, according to Wikipedia. The largest city in the world by population is Tokyo with over 35 million people. It was the world’s most populous urban area between 1965 and 1970. However, despite Japan’s declining population, it is still growing. The smallest city in the world by population is Hum.
When we talk about the environment that contributes to people’s lives and perceptions of it, it may help us to take a moment and take a step back. Instead of commenting on the way people connect and live in cities in general, I wonder if it would make sense for my to briefly explore types of cities? And in wanting to do that, I wonder what would be the best way to classify cities. I think I would like to classify them simply as modern and ancient cities, because any other classification seems surfacing to me. So here goes.
WHILE MODERN STRUCTURES can be more than impressive in their own right with respect to architecture, technological advancement, and physical attributes, there’s something about the surreal charm of structures from the past. Ruins around the world have withstood the test of time and have continued to beguile us with the stories and mysteries that they hold within themselves. If you go to any of these structures, you are sure to feel an utter sense of awe. Given that they were constructed so long ago in the past, their architectural genius is a force to reckon with.
The techniques used to create these ancient cities, temples, and monuments remain rather mystifying. Here are just a few examples of ancient cities from Greece…
- Athens: It is the capital of the Greek state and was the most important city of ancient Greece. It reached the zenith of its glory during the 5th century B.C., often referred to as the “Golden Age”
- Ancient Nemea: This city was a renowned city of ancient times because of the great Panhellenic Games, called “ NEMEA ”, held there every two years, and also because of the famous Temple of Zeus of the 4th B.C., one of the most venerated sanctuaries in Ancient Greece.
- Sparta: The history of Sparta goes back to very ancient times, as excavations have revealed that the area was inhabited since the end of the Neolithic period. The ruins of ancient Sparta lie 500 m from the modern town.
There are some marked differences between modern cities and ancient settlements. On the surface of it, there is technology, which changes things are planned and organized in cities. Even cultures and economic priorities have changed considerably from the agriculturally driven societies of earlier times. Today’s modern cities are growing in leaps and bounds. They are trying to give a super life to their inhabitants and visitors alike. People all around the world are working to push the boundaries on what it can mean to be a modern city. Through the use of forward-thinking and innovative efforts in technology, architecture, city planning, and social issues, they are competing to become models of modernity.
However, you would be surprised to know that a recent study conducted by scientists from the University of Colorado Boulder says that cities of differing eras aren’t as different as we might think. These researchers have discovered that modern settlements grow on lines similar to their ancient counterparts—a finding that could alter the way we plan future cities. This brings me to the question what makes future cities?
What makes cities livable?
Cities are based on the basic principle of making life better for the vast majority of their citizens. The focus on how people live every day and understand the practical choices they make that determine where and how they live. By focusing on these mundane aspects of life, particularly those of families and middle-class households that live in these cities, effective environments can be created there, by considering what people actually do, what they prefer, and those things which they aim for. Through this, it is possible to develop cities so that they are more pleasant, and particularly more accommodating, for people as they go through the various stages of life.
In many ways, today we are faced with a crisis that parallels that of the industrial city, with ever-widening inequality, widespread poverty, and social alienation. In the end, it is not the magnificence of a city that matters, or its degree of sophistication, but how well people live, both in terms of their standard of living and their ability to rise economically. It is a combination of these factors that makes the capital city of India, the city of my birth and current habitat what it is, it is a question of accomplishing those things that has made New Delhi work: an expansive economy, thriving families, and a powerful sense of place.
The capital city of India, New Delhi
Delhi, India’s capital territory, is a massive metropolitan area in the country’s north. A complicated city, New Delhi is all at once chaotic and calm. A city with immense historical importance, Delhi has been in the news for many wrong reasons in the last decade or so. The problems surrounding the way the commonwealth games were organized, high levels of pollution and the dismal state of women’s safety put Delhi in many negative media reports the world over.
However, things are again looking up. It has seen major infrastructural changes over the past few years amidst increased foreign investment and economic growth. With new roads, flyovers, bridges, healthcare facilities, sanitation, etc, Delhi’s infrastructure is attracting MNCs and corporate bodies from all over the world. Information technology, BPOs and other IT Services are among the growing industries in Delhi and its suburbs like Gurgaon and Noida (that make the N.C.R.).
Recent developments and economical growth in Delhi have put the city on the global map competing with other top notch cities in the world. Education in Delhi has always been the specialty of Delhi with so many good schools and colleges to choose from. Other major initiatives of the government include telecom, housing, power facilities, and transportation.
Now, Delhi is on the road to become a smart city. It getting a complete ‘Smart Cities‘ overhaul across its different regions thanks to large development projects being undertaken by various bodies and groups, one of them being the leading telecom company, Vodafone. In an effort to transform Delhi into a smart city and a better city, Vodafone has multiple projects running simultaneously in the city. They had embarked on this journey a few years ago. “With the launch of transformational Digital India program, we are looking forward to playing a larger role in supporting state and central governments, through smart solutions for Smart Governance,” Vodafone Business Services director Naveen Chopra had said. “In India, mGovernance-based citizen-centric solutions are not new to Vodafone and we have been active engaged in the education, health and agriculture sectors,” the company’s top executive had also said.
Here are a few of the programs that Vodafone is currently running in Delhi…
- SUPPORTING BUSINESS AND ECONOMY: Vodafone is at the heart of the start-up revolution. We usually help startups during their incubation stage by giving them Vodafone products that help them in their business in the initial days. Sometimes, the products given for free are to the tune of Rs. 2,00,000. (A few startups we have supported are Oyo and Zomato)
- DIGITAL REVOLUTION AND SUPPORT: Vodafone is digitally connecting Delhi & NCR with Free Wi-Fi Zones: There are more than 120 such hotspots across Delhi & NCR such as DLF Mall of India, Fortis Hospital, Delhi Haat, Khan Market, Airport, etc
- COVERAGE ACROSS DELHI: Vodafone is the choice of 1.2 crore customers in Delhi and NCR: 1.2 crore customers use Vodafone in Delhi NCR, which is almost half the population of Delhi. Vodafone receives 1 customer appreciation every 30 seconds.
- SOCIAL AND CIVIC RESPONSIBILITIES AND ACTION: Vodafone has enabled many key initiatives for the betterment of Delhi & NCR. Vodafone created the first Air-Purifying bus shelter in the city so that people could breathe non-polluted air while waiting for a bus. Last year air pollution in Delhi had reached a new height, that’s when this initiative was undertaken. Thereafter, Vodafone created the first Wi-Fi bus shelter in Gurgaon to take another step towards digitizing Delhi & NCR. The Free wi-fi can be used for 20 minutes irrespective of whether they are Vodafone customers or not.
- DIWALI AND CULTURAL CONTRIBUTIONS: This year, Vodafone Delhi is urging people to celebrate a Green Diwali. There will be Super Crackers available at our 52 Vodafone stores from 16th – 19th Oct. These Super crackers are filled with eco-friendly plant seeds. All one needs to do is plant it and let the plant bloom. This is also a key initiative taken in the wake of the Supreme Court banning fire crackers in the city.
It is wonderful to know that organizations like Vodafone are doing their bit to take Delhi to the next level and make it a smart city with great infrastructure and sustainable high standard of living. Similar steps are being taken to improve the social and natural environment of Delhi. The recent ban on crackers was also one of the steps in this direction, in which the government and the judiciary is trying to reduce the air pollution levels in Delhi. I am sure with steps like these and with the partnership of organizations like Vodafone, Delhi will again shine and become the wonderful haven that I have always known it to be. I urge you to join this journey! #CelebratingSuper !