In an exclusive interaction, Zheng Bin, CEO, Industrial and Commercial Bank of China Ltd and Chairman, MCEA, says that India should not blindly follow the models adopted by other Smart Cities which have come up across the world, and instead rely on its own strategy.
What can Indian cities learn their Chinese counterparts?
For a country like India with a huge population, it is a must to become 'smart'. Countries like the US, China, Spain, Japan, etc., have deployed advanced technologies like surveillance, sewage water distribution, and lighting, among other tech installations.
In China, cities have been developing at a fast pace over the past decade. In India, the steps have been initiated over the past couple of years only. And it will be wrong to compare our development process vis-a-vis India. According to me, Indian cities have much more to learn from Chinese cities. The list can go on and on, but I will limit my argument to a few initial steps.
Indian implementing agencies, instead of focusing on hardcore infrastructure (development), must try to implement smart solutions in cities, which take lesser time at the early stage of their development. Smart solutions like intelligent transport management, smart grids, surveillance and many such similar moves will take care of the basic needs of these cities. Importantly, besides deploying smart solutions, implementing agencies must be ready with planning of their hardcore infrastructure plans.
If you take a closer look at Chinese cities, these cities are planned and then synchronised or integrated with the available resources. There are cities which are completely digitised with the deployment of Smart City solutions, controlled by automated systems from a single-point location.
How is the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China funding India's Smart City initiatives?
We are glad to offer finance to Indian Smart Cities. Back in China, we have funded many companies which are involved in developing Smart City products or technologies. A similar pattern can be drawn in India too, where we can fund eligible companies which are developing smart solutions and state-of-the-art technology. As a matter of fact, we have already funded quite a few Indian conglomerates who must have already participated in Smart City projects.
How do you see India's move towards digitalisation?
For India, since it's a cash-based society, becoming complete digital will be a challenge. This can be evident from the recent move of the Government of India's demonetisation exercise. However, it was a bold move which pushed the country towards a cashless economy, with citizens adopting digitisation in payment transactions. Now, it is time to think in a positive way towards being a cashless society. That said, the success of complete digitisation in India will depend upon the adaptability of citizens. Therefore, if all the challenges are sorted out, then it's a win-win situation for cities and their citizens. I would rather say it will be a æwallet-free' society.
How are Chinese companies leveraging India's Smart City Mission?
Chinese companies will have an added advantage in serving Indian Smart Cities. This is mainly because both countries face a similar situation - whether it be traffic, sewage, wastewater, urban population, civic sense, etc.
Above all, Chinese companies have dealt with such situations by providing advanced technology. This will give Chinese companies an edge over other countries like the US. Importantly, we (Chinese) have the experience in providing best possible customised solutions.
Chinese companies can surely bring in best-in-class Internet of Things (IoT) technologies, tailor-made for the situation here, while making it more customised as per the standards adopted by Indian cities. Of course, Chinese companies are more cost-effective, (and) technologically adaptive to the realty here in India. So if we bridge the gap of providing technology to India, then it will be a win-win situation for both countries.
- RAHUL KAMAT