Learning from India Smart Chaos
“In India, there is acceptance of imperfection; nothing has to be perfect nor has to go exactly as planned. India is traditionally a patient country where tolerance for the unexpected is high; even welcomed as a break from monotony.”
[Hofstede Centre 6-D model on Countries and Cultures]
Having said this, we have to admit that thinking of Smart Cities in India from the usual efficient, productive and accurate technological approach we are used to be talked about sounds…. how should I say, odd? With the start of the year 2015, Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced the intention of creating 100 Smart Cities all over India. This is good, absolutely, any action to move the market and develop better living conditions for people is great.
Just, India is different. Every country is different to others, of course, but India in particular presents quite a distinctive and powerful personality. In a country with such a huge population we still can talk about one only Indian soul. Actually, I would dare to say that this is exactly the most characteristic quality of the Indian approach to life; the overlapping of ideas, feeling and situations regardless of time or even space. To a western mind this is like an extraterrestrial mindset.
I remember myself strolling by Raipur train station with a very good friend of mine, Indian. I looked at the deities on a big altarpiece. Among them there was one that looked to me like a Jewish Rabbi. I asked… but, why is that one in there?. He just said: why not?
Yes, why not. Why not use this overlapping mindset of Indian culture to create Smartness. Indians do it. They live comfortably inside the chaos and still show brilliant minds, offering some of the best mathematicians and engineers to the world. So, maybe there is some order inside the chaos.
Maybe the overlapping of vehicles on the streets follows a similar pattern as that of the coexisting deities. Traffic in India is crazy, but let´s try to identify the good side of it, let´s try to learn something from the way they address the problem. What can we learn from that hell of noise and disorder? Is there anything smart? I thinks so, there is. There are many things to learn from it and even to copy.
First, they multiplied the number and type of moving vehicles. Whereas in the west we have a short range typology, in our beloved India you have hundreds of vehicles, motorized or not, two, three, four wheels, cheap or expensive, for people, goods or both and, most impressive for a southern european… they don´t argue or fight on traffic issues, they just get along with the others’ mistakes. Second, this variety of types, caused a multiplication of non-painted lanes, turning a normal road in a rich multi-purpose mobility artery.
So, what can we learn from this. Once pushed aside the evident downsides of all this chaos, we can extract some lessons:
In the era of the awakening of electric vehicles, what the hell are we doing transforming our huge cars into electric devices? Shouldn’t they be smaller and adapted to what we really need? Shouldn’t we be more creative and adapt our designs accordingly to what we are using things for? Maybe electric cars should be small and for short routes and keep petrol cars for long trips instead of researching out for immense batteries.
Funny enough, many Indian cars, even the typical petrol ones tend to be higher than wider in shape. It looks that they stretched themselves to be able to pass through narrow aisles between other vehicles. Maybe this is how the display of lanes in the cities should evolve, to a coexistence of narrower, more efficient and less consuming vehicles.
Smart Chaos. A remarkable sense of identity that India shouldn’t lose, just correct, refine it, remove the bad sides and strengthen the powerful personality of your cities and people. Smart Cities are made of persons. In India, if you want to motivate people you can not talk to them about perfection, but you can inspire them in many ways to have a rich, full of scents and enjoyable country with 100 and more Smart Cities being efficient and profitable taking advantage of virtues that are envied all around the globe.
An article by Juan Sadaba – director of nerei emotional intelligent