Smart cities are seen as the new way of securing sustainable urban development to address pressing issues of global urbanization. But to attain truly holistic sustainable growth, social sustainability needs to be given weight within smart city frameworks. Social sustainability is a place specific concept, and its dynamic nature combines design of the physical realm with design of the social world to promote infrastructure supportive of local social needs and concerns. Smart cities as a new model of urban development in India acknowledge the significance of social sustainability to achieve balanced urban growth with references to social capital, equity, inclusion, and collaboration. This paper evaluates the nature and nuances of social dimensions within the Indian Smart Cities Mission (SCM). It applies a conceptual model of social sustainability based on an extensive literature review to assess the aspirational social content of the 100 SCM program to extract the major social sustainability themes evident in the Indian smart cities’ context. The findings suggest a nationally uneven embrace of place based social dimensions of sustainability when aiming to combat local urbanization challenges. Based on available documentation, Indian smart cities have some way to go to more explicitly engage with the urbanization challenges facing Indian cities including urban informality, social exclusion, and uneven growth.
Sugandha is an Architect and Urban Planner, currently pursuing PhD in the School of Built Environment at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. Her research objective is to highlight the relevance of social sustainability within the technology-based concept of smart cities and establish their relationship. Her study aims to serve both policy formulation as a strategic framework and localized developments providing opportunities to maximize the benefits of smart city development and particularly in case of Indian 100 Smart Cities Mission. She has 12 years of professional involvement in urban planning projects and has worked on master planning of first few Indian smart cities including GIFT city, Integrated Manufacturing Clusters (IMC’s) in 7 AKIC states and Bhopal smart city. Robert Freestone is Professor of Planning in the School of Built Environment at the University of New South Wales, Sydney, Australia. His books include Iconic Planned Communities and the Challenges of Change (2019), Designing the Global City (2019), Place and Placelessness Revisited (2016), Urban Nation (2010), and Model Communities (1989). Dr Paola Favaro is a Senior lecturer in Architecture and the Postgraduate Research Coordinator in the School of Built Environment at UNSW Sydney. Her research and publications are related to architecture and urban history and their role in solving the design of a sustainable 21st-century city. Her work has been recently presented at the CTBUH international conference Connecting the City (2018).