The Potential of the Smart City in the Peripheries of Bengaluru, India: On the Inclusivity of Infrastructures for Marginalised Groups
Gils, A.M. van
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As smart city development steadily gains more and more traction among urban policy makers throughout the Global South, many scholars warn for its negative consequences on access to infrastructure, democratic citizenship practices and the position of marginalized groups. This thesis contributes to this body of literature, but takes on a different starting point, as it analyses the potential for inclusive smart cities in the urban peripheries of Bengaluru. Bengaluru is one of the hundred participating cities in India’s Smart City Mission. Through quantitative and qualitative socio-spatial analyses on Bengaluru’s infrastructures in its peripheries, along with an actor analysis of the involved governance actors, I have developed a model of the infrastructural configuration for one of Bengaluru’s peripheral regions. Furthermore, this thesis entails a discourse analysis of state, market and civil society actors, on their agendas and practices regarding smart cities, urbanisation and inclusivity. Together, these methodological approaches provide an understanding on the potential of smart city development in respect to the context of the urban peripheries. As Bengaluru’s infrastructure is under pressure through massive urbanisation, market and civil society actors take on institutionalised and hybridised functions in the governance of infrastructure. I argue that these processes will only be intensified and utilised by Bengaluru’s smart city projects, which may have both positive and negative consequences on the infrastructural access of marginalised groups. How these projects will turn out, is dependent on the State’s normative and ethical considerations and policy decisions. In an effort of critical pragmatism, this thesis provides five instructive pathways for policy makers to ensure inclusive smart city practices, that can prevent or alleviate the marginalisation of infrastructural access.