On 20th Sep, we organized the First Ever MeetUp in Kota city to bring people together and find solutions to the existing problems in the society. Now many people must have thought why the meetup is named as “How To Make Kota A Smart City” when we’re discussing social issues concerning society ?
This is because of our understanding of the term “Smart City” is something very fancy. One participant during the meetup shared what she understands by the term smart city. Sarveshwari said that at a very basic level it means the day to day necessary needs of citizens like clean water, electricity, free education to his children, cheap public transportation, etc are fulfilled. Sadly, in Kota city there still remains a significant population deprived of these basic needs. So to make a city smart, these problems should be first to be solved.
Like most people you must have a preconceived notion about MeetUps and debate platforms, that they are either a waste or somewhat recreational. And surely you think that nothing changes by talking about things. You must think that people who attend or participate in these meetups are the ones who always need a reason to debate, curse the system, but they do nothing about it. I used to think the same. Until, I organized one myself.
Only a few things work out & reach to a level when it can impact society in a profound way. Doesn’t mean that everything fails, & nothing changes around us. Yes, only a few things work out, and this shouldn’t stop us from trying every possibility that might. Most of the time we are the ones preventing the change to happen by giving an excuse: “It wouldn’t matter. Nothing would change“. Ironically, that’s why it does not.
Yes, we couldn’t come to any concrete solutions after the meetup. That was just 3 hours. If solutions were so easy to find, we wouldn’t be paying taxes to Government….would we ? If you still think we couldn’t have done anything worth during 3 hours, you shouldn’t read further. If you think otherwise, you would be glad…
In the first round, each of the problems were supposed to be discussed for 5 minutes. Though we ended up giving as much as 20 minutes to some problems. The aim of the first round was to focus on problems and understand them better. These were following problems discussed in the first round –
1. Child Labor & Education – Piyush, a young change-maker who started an initiative to educate children from slum areas raised this issue of educating children from slums. These children are generally engaged in working on tea stalls, in small restaurants, begging, etc. Piyush is educating children and trying to enroll them in private schools. There was also a team who call themselves BOSS [Best Organisation for Social Service] and also working on the same issue. One important thing they said is, “We should give a child a reason to study. WHY is most important”.
2. Urban Mobility and Public Transportation – Vijay Singh Palliwal, one of the founders of the INDIA AGAINST CORRUPTION MOVEMENT & also a member of National Council of India took the issue of the poor public transportation within the city. He told that many buses have been brought to be run in the city to ease the public transport, but they never hit the road. Bharti Gaur, who runs an NGO called “SACHETAN” asked everyone what they understand by Urban Mobility. She then presented many ideas on how to improve the conditions. She said, “The problem of Urban Mobility can only be solved when we know detailed map of the city, number of people living in various areas, where they had to go to work, etc”
3. Water Shortage, Cleanliness, Proper Drainage, &Waste Management
Pragesh who had been in United States for quite a long time, and had returned to Kota few months back discussed the problems of waste management, cleanliness, and poor implementation of traffic rules. He emphasized on spreading awareness among the mass on these issues, and people have to think of these issues as something important. Pragesh also said that there are models already available for innovative ideas which have transformed society in positive ways, we just to study them and implement them here in Kota.
4. Exploitation of students from other cities
Students who come from other cities have to face many problems here. They are cheated by local hostel owners, auto drivers, local shop owners, etc. There had many cases of suicides which recently came in limelight. Though discussion on this topic wasn’t very much focused; a good point was given by Bharti Gaur. She said that we have to first study the conditions in which these students are living, and problems they are facing. After doing a well researched study, we could only start solving those problems .
5. Community Network
We read news everyday about incidents happening everywhere, especially the wrong ones. Murder, Theft, Rape, etc. But after few days, we forget them, and we couldn’t know what happened to them, if Police was able to solve the case, if the culprit got punishment. There is no follow up on news we read everyday. And there is no participation of people. Aarav (Me), said that we should have a community network, something like Twitter where we get news about what’s happening around us, on which we can debate, present views, follow up, and do something about it ! Instead of reading or listening news only to forget it a day later.
6. Cattle Management & Conditions in Slum areas
There has been a debate on why animals have to kept away from cities. If we’re talking about Smart City, we wouldn’t want Buffaloes siting in the middle of a busy road. Keeping animals away from cities is good for animals as well, because they could get a healthy, safe environment to live and produce.
7. Bringing people close to administration
Swati Mishra who is an app developer, and had worked for companies like Google. She said that she developed an app through which you can talk to your ward-parshad directly, for which she got many prestigious award. This app is available on play store to download by the name “Kota Municipal Corporation”. This is a great example of using Technology to bridge the gap between people and administration.
After first round, 3 problems were selected to be discussed during the second round. In second round, the selected problems were given a time of 10 minutes each. And now the focus was on to finding the plausible solutions
- Starting a service which collects remaining food from restaurants, messes, parties, to be distributed in slum areas.
- Awareness Campaigns
- Rag pickers – Organizing this sector.
- Using Bio degradable materials. Using cloth bags instead of plastic ones.
- Giving children with more options to make a career in rather than just Engineering or Medical.
- Counseling of Students in coaching at every level
- There are very few psychiatrists in the city, the rising rate of suicide shows that we need more of them.
- Coaching Institutes should reuse their study materials.
- College students can volunteer to teach students in slum areas.
- Used stationary & Increasing competence by awarding gifts in the form of stationary and other useful materials.
- WHY you should study – Giving a child a reason to study is most important.
- Private schools have a 30% quota reserved for poor children. Enrolling children from slum under this quota is one of the smartest way to go about educating a child.
One thing was clear after the MeetUp that people no longer wanted to be dependent on Government to make things better. They want to do it themselves, and set an example for the authorities. That is the kind of attitude we need to have if we’re thinking to make Kota a smart city. We need to become responsible citizen and a caring member of our communities, and then we might be able to solve the most critical problems.
After the meetup got over I too felt a little skeptical about the output of the discussion. But two days later, I met with Piyush and discussed many things that we can do in future. Also a friend told me that he always wanted to start a service where they pick up leftover food from messes and supply it to slum areas. Same thing what was discussed in meetup also.
That’s a progress…isn’t it ? A small one. But, sure, a step towards a better society.
The aim of this meetup, and more meetups to be organized in future is not to rush for solutions, but to stay at problems longer than we usually do. Also with the help of meetups, we aim to bring people together, so that they could know each other & might work on something together in future.
If you wish to organize any such meetup with us, we would be glad. You just have to send us a mail at firstname.lastname@example.org describing the theme and aim of the meetup, and we will contact you.
What are the other critical problems that Kota city is facing, share them with us, and also share if you could come up with solutions to the problems we discussed during the meetup
Hope to see you in next meetup !