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Shreya Ranjan, Sneha Bhuva, Praveen Nahar, and Sahil Thappa

What gives meaning to our life in urban scapes?

In this fast-developing world, our cities need to adapt fast to better technology, connectivity, and growth and somehow enable individual growth, i.e., cities have to be adaptive to their physical challenges and evolving aspirational needs. Today, there is increased migration towards the urban economic life (put migration data); at the same time, urbanisation is also travelling towards the hinterland, creating a loss of accountability and ownership of the ecosystem and its people. Everyone is getting connected faster, and the world is getting smaller, but something is amiss in this new way we live now.

What’s missing?

Sense of belonging

As the world shifts towards faster and digital, people get more out of touch with their ecosystems. People no longer know where their food comes from or how to build climate-resilient cities. There is gradual loss, even disinterest in knowledge sharing, because of broken trust networks. In the context of India, urbanisation has not taken into consideration contextual needs and knowledges, which has built opaque walls of development between people and the decision-making process that directly affects them.


Humans seek connectedness and they experience discomfort when they feel isolated from the larger ecosystem that they all are a part of. This includes the physical infrastructure, the natural ecosystem, the social fabric of the society, and how all of this combines to create a sense of belonging, responsibility, ownership, and connectedness. “The double role of living systems as parts and wholes requires the interplay of two opposite tendencies – an integrated tendency to function as part of a larger whole, and a self-assertive, or self-organizing tendency to preserve individual autonomy”.

How can we then establish this connectedness, and what does it mean in our fast-changing world where aspirations are ever-evolving?

Smart Cities India exhibition photos at National Institute of Design, Amehdabad, India




Citation Data

Author(s): Shreya Ranjan, Sneha Bhuva, Praveen Nahar, and Sahil Thappa
Year: 2023
Title: A Study of Smart Cities for India
Published in: Proceedings of Relating Systems Thinking and Design
Volume: RSD12
Article No.: pre-release
Host: Georgetown University
Location: ONLINE
Symposium Dates: February 26–May 6, 2024
First published: 31 December 2023
Last update: February 01, 2024
Publisher Identification: ISSN 2371-8404
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