Day Three in India- Smart City Visit: GIFT

Haas students with Smart Cities’ CEO, Ramakant Jha
Haas students with Smart Cities’ CEO, Ramakant Jha

On our last day in Ahmedabad, we had another busy schedule ahead of us. We began our morning by learning about people’s tendency to sell their assets for less than half price, compared to when they first bought it. This is due to the fact that we, as human beings, have a myriad of assets and some end up going to waste — eventually becoming what business innovators call a dead asset. With this in mind, entrepreneur Maulik Pandga built the business model for his newly developed phone application called Sharehero.

By reducing duplicates through crowd sourcing a sharing network, Sharehero is a solution for sustainable living. What we found extremely intriguing is the fact that, compared to its competitors, Sharehero is a one-of-a-kind app that cultivates a positive sharing culture.

After listening to Mr. Pandga speak, we had the opportunity to listen to Tyco representative, Akhand Kumar, share about Tyco’s goal of becoming both a smarter and a sustainable brand. Mr. Kumar then introduced a subsidiary of Tyco called Proximex, which is a company that was established in 2005 in Silicon Valley. With Proximex products (such as smoke detectors, surveillance cameras, etc.) being implemented (where?), we now see a positive trend in the industry of conserving of costs. For instance, you could access the CCTV at the park and watch your kid through your phone by tapping into the CCTV’s camera IP number. Like Mr. Pandga stated, a smart city has smart safety.

After our first two morning lectures and Indian breakfast we headed on the bus for a long one-hour drive to visit the prestigious Indian Institute of Management (IIM) University. Once we were there, all of the Haas students began to joke around and point out the similarities of the campus to that of ours. They even had a grand entrance with what we called the “Haas Steps” because it emulated very similar to ours back home. We then listened to a very inspirational lecture from the famous professor, Anil Gupta as he talked about Frugal Innovations, building bridges across boundaries, and emerging tension in open innovations platforms. He asked us how must we address the problems between different socioeconomically societies and classes. He noted three pillars of sustainability: technology, institutions, and culture. While technology is like words, institutions are like grammar and culture is the thesaurus. He then introduced his database, Honey Bee Network. This network allows someone to share his or her research in a specified topic with the mission to solve problems by sharing research globally. He ended his lecture with a word of advice: that if you make a smart city for only the rich then it’s not a smart city at all.

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At GIFT

After listening to multiple lectures defining a smart city we finally had the opportunity to visit Gujarat International Finance Tec-City (GIFT) located at the outskirts of Ahmedabad. GIFT is Gujarat’s gift to India and the world. GIFT aspires to cater to India’s large financial services potential by offering global firms world-class infrastructure and facilities. GIFT is funded by the Government of Gujarat and private companies in a novel public-private partnership. We had the utmost pleasure discussing with CEO Ramakant Jha on the smart city and it’s future buildings. In the future, the CEO welcomes Haas students to further invest and engage with the smart city agenda. GIFT is attracting global attention with planned visitants from Bill Clinton, Dr. Jim Young Kim, Ms. Christine Lagarade, Mr. Takeihko Nakaso, Ms. Janet Yellen, Mr. Jeff Immlet, CEO, GE, Dr. Martin Winterkorn, Chairman, Volkswagen Group, Mr. Jeff Bezos, Mr. Michael Dell, Mr. Ben van Beurden, CEO Shell Global. It was inspirational to see this first step in making a city in India an international hub. Just like Prime Minister of India, Shri Modi said, “The vision of Gujarat would be incomplete without capitalizing on the in-house financial business acumen.” Creating this city to intertwine with technology, meet the needs of modern Gujarat, modern India, and really create a space in the global financial world is an inspirational leap for India that I am excited to see take place in the near future. GIFT is estimated to be completed in 2022.

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Haas Students Celebrating the New Year in traditional Indian clothing.

With 2015 right around the corner, we headed back to our dorms and MICA to get ready for the New Years Eve party. I’m sure most of the students would agree that the most exciting part of that night was being able to wear the traditional clothing and learn the Indian way of celebrating New Years. It was a pleasant sight to see everyone dancing together, eating both traditional Indian food and barbecue, and launching lanterns with their New Years resolutions! 5-4-3-2-1 Happy New Years!!

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