Government of India launches Smart Cities fellowship and internship programmes

On 9 July, the Union Housing and Urban Affairs Minister Mr Hardeep Singh Puri inaugurated Smart Cities fellowship and internship programmes that, he said, are expected to provide the youth with opportunities to experience various aspects of urban planning and governance. He also launched Local Area Plans (LAP) and Town Plan Schemes (TPS) for 25 cities in the country, under which the Ministry will provide IN ₹2.0 crores (around US $291,240) as central financial assistance to every city for planned urban expansion.

According to an official statement released by the Ministry, while addressing a press conference, Mr Hardeep Singh Puri said that the Smart Cities Digital Payment Award that was announced on 9 July, was created with the intent to promote the Prime Minister’s ‘Digital India’ initiative. Digital India was developed to digitally empower Indian citizens, and through the Smart City Mission increase the efficiency of financial transactions for India’s urban residents by promoting digital payments.

Smart Cities are a part of the Smart City Mission that was initiated on 25 June 2015. Using technology, Smart Cities improve quality of life, generate employment and increase the efficiency of local bodies, public services, and the overall management of city infrastructure. Nine Integrated Command & Control Centres are already operational in the cities of Ahmedabad, Kakinada, Visakhapatnam, Nagpur, Pune, Rajkot, Surat, Vadodara and Bhopal.

The Ministry has encouraged Smart Cities to increase the use of digital payment methods; the India Interface for Money (Bharat Interface for Money) and the RuPay scheme are two digital payment methods that the Prime Minister launched under the Digital India initiative. The Bharat Interface for Money is a mobile app developed by National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI), based on the Unified Payment Interface; the RuPay initiative is an Indian domestic card scheme that was also developed and launched by the NCPI.

During the press conference, Mr Hardeep Singh Puri said that the Smart Cities Digital Payments Awards 2018 only aim is to guide, motivate, recognise and reward the Smart Cities for promoting digital payments and carrying out innovative payment initiatives in their respective cities.

According to the release, for evaluation purpose, the Smart Cities will be divided into four different categories based on their population. The Local Area Plan (LAP) and Town Planning Scheme (TPS) will be implemented in 25 selected cities on a pilot basis. The scheme will enable the selected cities to formulate local area-based plans and town planning schemes for which financial central assistance will be made available.

The press release said that under India Smart Cities Internship (ISCI) Programme, the Ministry will engage students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, postgraduate degrees as interns to help with the implementation of a number of digital projects in states around the country.

The Smart Cities Fellowship Program is designed to provide valuable experience to the youth that is particularly interested in Smart Cities, and the urban sector in general and will bring in new ideas and solutions to the challenging but crucial work of implementing state-of-the-art technology and efficient and cost-effective strategies to solve urban problems.

According to the Ministry, 30 graduates, post-graduates and PhD-holders in the fields of urban planning, urban design, engineering, IT (Information and Technology), urban mobility, finance, and environmental issues will be able to participate in the fellowship programmes. The participants will be given experience certificates at the end of the programme.

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