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BW Businessworld

Indian Smart Cities Covid-Ready And Changing Paradigm Shift In Governance: Dr. Rashmi Singh

Dr. Rashmi Singh IAS, Additional Commissioner, North Delhi Municipal Corporation in a one-on-one conversation with Dr. Annurag Batra, Chairman & Editor-in-Chief, BW Businessworld & exchange4media Group.

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Dr. Anurag Batra: How has life changed during the ongoing pandemic? How are you managing both personal and professional fronts during COVID days?
Dr. Rashmi Singh: Actually, this is very challenging, because we are used to a particular culture of work which we adhered to for years now, which has now changed completely and there is a defined new normal for work culture as well as our personal life. Herein, the kind of challenges that are defined needs a new kind of adapted solutions.

Thus, apparently it is a challenging situation for all bureaucrats across domains to adjust to the current situation while adjusting to the new normalcy, both on the personal front as well as on the professional front.

Dr. Anurag Batra: The Covid 19 pandemic has brought in a sense of virtuality. How has it impacted the Smart City ecosystem and its stakeholders? Recent news highlights shows how Integrated Command and Control Centers (ICCC) has been used by government for combatting COVID. Your views on this.
Dr. Rashmi Singh: The word virtuality can be ideally used for the responses that we are getting using advanced level technology and communication technology for the entire communication in any city for the administration as a whole. We may not have done any communication in any traditional manner through a face to face interface. Even for service delivery we have been looking at methods like online service delivery can be made possible for both inter department and intra-department service deliveries, keeping a focus on establishing strong and effective communication procedure between government departments and government and citizens for creating awareness about the pandemic crisis situation and announcements about government guidelines are made, in a bid to empower citizens to deal the pandemic crisis.

In many places, the Integrated Command and Control Centre (ICCC) which are one of the most important component of Smart City is being used to track COVID 19 data and monitor them to treat them with effectivity. What quantifies the component is its integrity with use of technology in determining statistics correctly for treating the crisis. The idea here is to use the information intelligently, so as to take decisions rightly and actions on a real time basis. Also it is essential to note that when there are multiple agencies which are delivering plethora of information, it is essential for government agencies to analyse the information for right usage.

Dr. Anurag Batra: Over the past few days, our government has transformed into a Caring, Collaborative and Contactless economy, or can be coined as the 3C’s of Indian economy? Please elaborate to us about how these 3C’s coming together are enabling us to enhance better governance at policymaking stage?
Dr. Rashmi Singh: While we talk about contactless, we are discussing about the social distancing part, which has surely been a challenge now for operating in traditional ways of governance. However, needless to mention that the social distancing is a sheer imperative that is enabling us to stop the virus from spreading. On the other hand the collaboration part can be defined as not only inter departmental or intra-departmental collaboration but also between government and its citizens, which can be facilitated by technology at large. It can facilitate exchange of information between departments and agencies, government departments and others of the like. For most of the city administrations it is the complex part is the social complexity of human face to reach out to people, who do not have a shelter or a communication address. Thus, to reach out these people who are looking for jobs and basic security on government part also defines the caring aspect of the government. All these three aspects collaboratively enabling us to establish a stable communication and governance for our citizens and employees cumulatively. Herein, it is important to mention that the citizens are really aware of the governance norms and information duly and are highly responsive in sharing feedbacks and opinions.

Dr. Anurag Batra: Going forward, what would be the role of governance in the post COVID era? How would the new age governance norm appear post pandemic phase?
Dr. Rashmi Singh: Interestingly, governance in India needs to break the stereotypes and come out with an out of the box solutions to keep up with the citizen’s expectations. As a matter of fact it is now essential for government agencies to create solutions or service deliveries to an end as to when it will impact the citizens to meet their challenges.  In my opinion, the governance in India is going to evolve further in a more collaborative style. However, I personally advocate much of the PPP approach or the Public Private Partnership approach, which in a way leaves behind immense scope for innovation and implementation for better solution.

Dr. Anurag Batra: How do you observe the changing role and behaviour change of the society and how does government react to the seismic change of the society?
Dr. Rashmi Singh: The pandemic crisis has undoubtedly affected the poor, rich and middle class irrespective of which strata of the society they belong too. As a matter of fact, COVID 19 has been an equalizer and democratizer for all citizens across the society, across boundaries irrespective of whichever part of the society they belong too. However the impact has affected people in differential manner for most of us, with respect to economic compulsions in its own way.

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