1. I am happy to have inaugurated the intelligent operations centre and launched a mobile application, ‘Monitor’, towards a Smart President’s Estate. At the outset, let me congratulate Team-Rashtrapati Bhavan and Team-IBM for the conceptualization, collaboration and quick implementation of this important project aimed at converting the Estate into a smart township.
2. India is a land of diversity as well a land of opportunity. The complexity in governance offers scope for innovation and adoption of global best practices. We have progressed as a nation at an amazing pace over the last few decades. In the process, we have brought about an immense transformation in the lives of the citizens. Still we have miles to go before we can legitimately claim to have provided basic necessities to each and every citizen of this country.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
3. When I assumed office as the thirteenth President of the Indian Republic, I did not know that behind the imposing façade of Rashtrapati Bhavan, there lay a living and vibrant township of over 6,000 residents. This township is a micro-cosmic India where residents belong to different regions, pursue different faiths, and observe diverse customs, habits and traditions. The campus has a mandir, a masjid, a gurudwara inside; and a church across the road. The township has schools, holistic healthcare centres, dispensaries, libraries, markets, museums, banks and post offices. The Dr. Rajendra Prasad Sarvodaya Vidyalaya that is located inside the township has on its rolls more than 1,500 students from the President’s Estate as well as other parts of Delhi.
4. My Secretariat picked up a plethora of work to make President’s Estate a model township. We followed a value-oriented governance model that is based on the core civilizational values of compassion and service to others. Such a model relies on happiness to come not from material well-being but from following values that are the highest principles of human existence. Our approach to welfare in the Estate was on these lines. The works undertaken related to modernization of the school, improvement of infrastructure, efficient management of water, energy and waste, preservation of heritage, and introduction of recreational and sports infrastructure. When I was presented with the idea of this transformation early on, I told my Secretary that we should attempt to fashion this estate as a 3H township, that is, Humane, Hi-tech and Heritage Township. I have had the occasion to observe the activities undertaken in the township since July, 2012. And, I feel that the initiatives relating to senior citizens, specially-abled children, pre-school children, sports plus programme, holistic health care, modernization of school, skill development, and cultural programmes have enhanced the quality of life of the residents of the Estate.
5. The journey to improve the living standards of the Estate community is a never-ending process. There is always a possibility to add a coat of paint to make a wall a shade brighter. If I were to use a word to describe a human emotion associated with this ongoing transformation of quality of life in the township, it will be happiness. It is happiness that holds the key to the well-being of people and for the development of human society. Today, recognizing the smiles on the faces of my people, I will like to add one more ‘H’ to our model of 3H, and that is ‘Happiness’. From now, our Smart President’s Estate will work around the ‘4H’ theme of a Humane, Hi-tech, Heritage and Happy Township.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
6. India has achieved a certain level of development over the years. So, too, have many parts of the world. Some have moved faster than us. They have excelled in many areas of urban governance. When we as Indians are challenged about the quality of living, infrastructure and other basic services, we generally have a tendency to explain the difficulty in performance to the size of the country and its population. We have to keep aside such excuses and find our own solutions taking into account the size, diversity, complexities and other barriers. We must remember that small building blocks like villages and townships ultimately cumulate into urban spaces, and then gradually lead to cities.
7. If we can transform villages and towns, I am sure we can transform the whole country. I see the Smart President’s Estate as a replicable model which can be adopted in other parts of the country through citizens’ engagement, public and private sector participation and deployment of intensive technologies. In this context, I would like to mention that we are in the process of replicating our Rashtrapati Bhavan experience of Smart Township by applying and transferring our knowledge and expertise to five villages in an adjoining state. We will try to convert these villages into model smart villages by following a convergence model. We will facilitate the establishment of linkages between expert bodies, administrative agencies and relevant state/ district level organizations. This will lead to the leveraging of different stakeholder expertise in finding unique solutions to the varied problems at the village level.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
8. The engagement of citizens and other stakeholders is critical to the success of any governance project. Today, I am happy to find the Secretary to the President announcing the institution of a few awards to keep the Smart President’s Estate a dynamic and inclusive platform. Measurable performance parameters to judge the performance of the different departments under the Secretariat would help in the incentivization process. This approach in urban governance where we recognize stakeholders for their contribution to public causes is noteworthy.
9. The good work being performed in cities round the globe are measured on the basis of identifiable parameters like housing, income, community, education, environment, health, jobs, safety and civic engagement. In India to monitor village and block level development, it is necessary to develop rankings for villages and municipal bodies on pre-defined parameters for generating competition as well as sense of participation amongst citizens.
10. The scarcity of natural resources as well as trained and skilled manpower poses a challenge in governance. There is enough on this Earth to meet the need of the society as a whole, but over exploitation and greed could lead to disasters and catastrophe. In this context, technology is a powerful enabler to optimize the utilization and management of resources. I am happy that the Smart President’s Estate technology solution will result in rationalization through monitoring, education, better coordination and management. It will lead to more realization from less.
Ladies and Gentlemen:
11. The Government has launched Digital India, Skill India and Swachh Bharat programmes. These three programmes being implemented are transformative in nature and their successful results will alter the governance landscape of the country. Today, I call upon the citizens of India to dedicate themselves to the cause of the nation and society through constructive contribution to these programmes in all possible ways.
12. I once again congratulate Team-IBM led by Smt. Vanitha Narayanan and Team-Rashtrapati Bhavan led by Smt. Omita Paul, for the time-bound implementation of this important project for the well-being of the Estate community. I would like to particularly compliment the domain leaders of Energy, Water, Waste, Horticulture and PNG who along with their teams, are willingly adopting the change and are becoming a part of the change they want to see. My blessings and best wishes for the endeavours!