THE WIMWIAN

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Pune Chapter : Rendezvous with the Pune Municipal Commissioner, Mr. Kunal Kumar

 

The IIM A Alumni association Pune chapter has been working on conducting sessions with external speakers along with the usual monthly networking events. One such event organized by the Execcom was an interaction with the Pune Municipal Commissioner, Mr. Kunal Kumar.

Despite the heavy unexpected downpour, about 30 alumni gathered to hear the Pune

Municipal Commissioner speak about the Pune Smart city project and how the alumni can contribute to see real transformation happen in the city.

 

After the initial round of introductions, we all got to know a bit more about our dynamic commissioner – an engineer from IIT Roorkee – Batch of 97, Kunal got the Rhodes scholarship to study at Oxford and an admit into the prestigious Indian Administrative Services (IAS)in the year 1999 and decided to pursue the latter , which he says he never regrets the decision – given the enormity of the purpose this gives him an opportunity to pursue. He said the opportunity to touch the lives of so many people drives him each day. He said, as intellectuals we always complain and crib about the systems or processes in India and the speed of decision making or even see any outcome and tend to compare with Singapore or United States but having seen the complexity at ground zero, to achieve an outcome in a diverse country like India which comes with its own set of challenges, needs perseverance, patience, an open mind and above all being in sync with the real challenges, the actual scenario and be in sync with what our country is.

 

Macro view about the Smart City Concept and how we could support – In the

Commissioner’s words

 

Smart city, by virtue of definition is a transformation project to benchmark some of the cities in India to the best in the world while still leaving room for defining what ‘smart’ meant in the Indian conditions for our own citizens. Two important tenets while defining what ‘smart ‘ cities meant were –

1) Bottom up planning – Need to listen and aggregate what people across different sectors in the city are saying – Citizen centric

2) Optimization of resources – Planning in a way that you affect a larger population and greater impact while spending lesser amount of resources (time and money) because of our tax to GDP ratio – determine where the first rupee needs to be spent and how to generate maximum impact

 

Three broad areas the ‘smart city’ project focuses on –

1) Quality of life – ‘when you get out of the house each morning, each person should get a ‘good’ feel that the city is going to take care of them . Good water, good sewage system, good roads, good waste management, good transport facilities, street lights etc.

2) Good Economic Infrastructure – Economy has to be in the right direction and everyone needs to be able to get a job based on their talent. There needs to be an innovation driven economy and the Government has to make significant investments for the same to forge the shift from one sector to another.

3) Sustainability – essentially revolves around the environment – rivers, flora and fauna, bio diversity, green spaces, green development, low energy consumption etc. In short, we need to build future proof cities – not just insuring against natural calamities like earthquakes but also economic downturn, communal clashes etc.

 

He also spoke to all of us about the Smart city Mission for Pune and the strong foundation built, the five year plan and the focus areas and how they plan to work them out and the partnerships with several Governments, Pune City Connect (including the City Transformation Unit), Corporates and NGOs.

 

The Command control center, Smart water metering plan, the smart lighting system, the water sewage treatment plan, Pune Idea factory foundation, Digital Literacy and Skilling through the ‘Lighthouse’ project were very impressive. He reiterated that the best of the lot need to be working with the Government right now to be able to make certain bold, out of the box decisions.

 

Ruchi Mathur, PGP 95 from IIM A, who is the CEO of Pune City Connect spoke briefly about her experience about working with the Municipal Corporation and elaborated on Pune City Connect’s role in the ‘Smart city’ project and overall social transformation in Pune through

Public Private Partnerships and how the four entities –Government, Corporates, NGOs and

Citizens– need to collaborate and see a common vision to realize the dream we have for our city.

 

Pune City Connect works on 4 key areas today –

1) Education sector -Improving the quality of education in 240 Municipal schools in Pune through capacity building of teachers, and also working specifically with 15 schools to develop them into ‘model schools’, thus establishing pilots that could subsequently be cascaded across the school system

2) Digital Literacy – Achieving 100% Digital literacy (atleast one person in every household being digitally literate) to ensure that each household is included in the Digital revolution. This is aligned to the National Digital Literacy Mission.

3) Sustainable livelihood – Every individual should be able to do what he/she is good at.

Physical centers called Lighthouses are being set up across Pune. These Lighthouses help youth discover their own agency and ability to determine their future, and subsequently place them in skilling programs of their choice. Whilst the Municipal Corporation invests in the capital expenditure, corporates fund the operating expenses via Corporate Social Responsibility funds.

4) Governance – Program management of important projects in the Rs.32000 Crores city development plan for 2020. For this purpose, a City Transformation Unit has been set up, comprising 4 IIM A graduates – Goutham, Prasad, Naina and Devesh.

Alumni could contribute to Pune City Connect’s efforts by sponsoring some of these projects and also volunteering/ program managing other volunteers.

 

Goutham also spoke briefly about his experience the last one year working with PMC and his experience of the predominance of grassroot level problems, wide stakeholder spread and the kind of leadership demonstrated by the commissioner.

 

In all, it was wonderful listening to a dynamic commissioner who is transforming a vision to reality, a fitness enthusiast who derives his day’s energy through his workout each day and a man who juggles a few 100 diverse stakeholders to get the plan going. Also, proud of people from our fraternity supporting this transformation.

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