Saturday, January 24, 2009

Have you heard for Ahmedabad? If not - you should

Ahmedabad is the largest city in the state of Gujarat (India) and is a few hundred miles north of Mumbai. This is also the city where Gandhi had his ashram where he start the non-violent movement for freedom from the British rule.

It is very unlikely that you have heard about this city, other than maybe seen it in the Gandhi movie not knowing the name of the City. Based on my recent trip there earlier this year I believe that it has the potential of becoming one of the major International cities in India .

Following is my reasoning:
  • The state of Gujarat was hit by a major earthquake in 2001 which resulted in thousands of death and substantial damage to the infrastructure. From this tragedy rose an opportunity (and which I sincerely hope we repeat the feet to overcome the current financial crisis)

  • The state and the city rebuilt all the major roads include some highways that are mostly 6 lanes wide (OK the extreme two are now used for parking). Even though there is traffic - it keeps moving and one can go from one end of the city to the other without any major traffic blocks (unlike the other major cities)

  • In the late 80's early 90's the pollution was horrible, especially at the center of the city where they had the highest level of pollution of any of the cities in India. Today they have provided incentives where majority of the auto rickshaws have switched to CNG (see picture below).

  • The city is the banks of river Sabarmati and they have now embarked on ambitious multi year project (SRFDCL) to develop the riverfront on both the banks of the river from one end of the city to the other.

  • Even though the traffic is OK now, in order to cater to the growth the city has embarked on one more project of developing a Rapid Transport System (BRTS). Instead of developing a city metro/rail system, they took a faster an more practical approach. The city has built dedicated special center lanes for express bus. In addition, they have also built a number of flyovers to facilitate rapid transportation. Something to learn from, it may be cheaper and faster to develop rapid transportation system using buses than developing a city wide metro/railways.

  • The city boasts one of the best Management Institutions (Indian Institute of Management - Ahmedabad) in the country. Ofcourse there is also the Gujarat University (a large campus) with a lot of well reputed colleges and research centers around it.

  • Looks like Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) is expanding into more cities, include Gandhinagar (IIT Gujarat) which could basically be considered as one of the suburbs of Ahmedabad

There are lot of other cool stuff about Ahmedabad and if it looks like I am biased - Yes! I am. In the spirit of full disclosure, I spent my first 19 years at Ahmedabad.
What does this have to do with SOA or Strategic IT? Very simple - the State and the City realized that the city was becoming unlivable because they were not providing adequate services to their citizens. In order to improve the quality of service - the combined their efforts to first plan and build out the infrastructure (still WIP) to try and provide one of the best living conditions in the Country. Something we can all learn from.
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