Throughout human history, cities have been centres of prosperity, ideas and innovation. These days, smart cities are creating a new buzzword across the world. Examples boom in Japan, Europe, UAE and Singapore while several others are shaping up on the drawing board. With the recent announcement of 100 new Smart Cities, the Government of India has strategically responded to both the international call for innovation and transformative sustainability as well as growing domestic pressure in cities. Interestingly, there is neither an internationally accepted definition of a Smart City, nor does India have any national policy on urbanization. Within this science-policy vacuum, there is a fair degree of consensus on what a smart city looks like, but no understanding on what are the inputs and strategies to achieve one. With numerous expectations, inhibitions and euphoria around this theme, this paper attempts to systematically investigate what is a smart city, how it is different from similar prototypes like a sustainable, green and low-carbon city and what are the global best practices. The article addresses some of the ideological, technical, societal, governance and financial challenges that India faces to attain the ‘100 Smart Cities’ goal, and what would be its policy implications. In the process, the research proposes a new idiom for SMART—Sustainability, Metrics, Adaptiveness, Reporting, Technology for Inclusiveness.
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