I asked my soul: What is Delhi?
She replied: The world is the body and Delhi its life!
That is Delhi for everyone who is in the city, whether to settle there for good or on a short stop in the sojourn of their lives. Delhi has a life of its own, a unique entity that engulfs and accepts everyone who enters. For those out of Delhi, Delhi is polluted, congested and a terrible place to live in. Ask those who live there- Delhi has given them everything. There is nowhere else they would rather be! The city of Delhi is unique in its contradictions and overwhelms one with the co-existence of tombs of the erstwhile royals and today’s slums… where Tees January is a street’s name and where everyone from a daily wager to an IT professional comes looking for better opportunities.
This ‘Dil waalon ki nagri’ is fraught with its share of troubles too. Last year saw a blanket of smog that engulfed the skies and made breathing difficult. The pollution meters blinked red and jolted the residents out of their sleep of enforced ignorance. Traffic was not only causing time delays and missed appointments, it was causing tremendous pollution too! Thereafter began the initiative of ‘odd even scheme’, forcibly making the commuters carpool or use public transport. Keeping the current scenarios in mind, as a part of its Corporate Social Responsibility, Vodafone set up the first air purifying bus shelter in the city so that people waiting for buses could breathe in clean air instead of smoke bellowing out the exhausts of vehicles. Out of troubles arise innovations and initiatives. It was no surprise to read in the newspaper that students in the city came up with highly innovative and clever solutions like a smart school bag that reminds what books to pack, a torch for the visually impaired that uses sound and a sensor that analyses pollution levels. After all, necessity is the mother of all invention! I wonder if the term ‘jugad’ was coined by a Delhiite!
Despite the pollution, congestion and extremes of temperature, Delhi is undauntedly moving on its way towards becoming a smart city. Smart poles with sensor based lighting, 3D zebra crossings, convenient and clean smart public toilets, point-of-delivery kiosks and healthcare portals are making their way in to transform the city. Even government employees and public servants are embracing the change with welcome arms. A gardener of NDMC was one of the members of a team sent to Belgium recently to learn best practices. Soon, if things continue at the same pace, all you would need is a mobile and an internet connection to know about the nearest smart toilet, drinking water, parking spot or even a sanitary napkin vending machine! For the same, the basic need is of internet and wi-fi spots.While the government is actively working towards it, Vodafone is digitally connecting Delhi and all its residents through over 120 free wi-fi zones across Delhi and NCR.
With so many innovations on the cards, I am sure the experience of living in Delhi is going to get a makeover and will be nothing like it ever has been. A majority of the capital’s population realises it too and is also beginning to take onus of the city. When the Supreme Court banned the sale of crackers this year, there were very few who actually objected. Most of the parents in Delhi were happy with clean air for their children this Diwali instead of crackers. Green Diwali sounded a much better option than a loud and smoke-filled Diwali. People used alternatives like paper crackers, lanterns and painted diyas. Some even got Super Crackers from Vodafone stores which actually were water soluble packs of seeds in the shape of crackers. The seeds were of plants with air purifying qualities. Now that is a wonderful way to #CelebrateSuper !
The spirit of Delhi is just like these super crackers- even if you take it and bury it, it bursts out from the ground and blooms, spreading life and joy all around. A new era is dawning upon the city that is becoming smart and its residents smarter! It remains for the world to see what all lies ahead and what heights the city can scale!