Nashik’s Kumbh Mela that attracts millions of devotees every year will now become a research subject for MIT to find out ideas for building smart cities.
Starting from August 23 for a week, nearly 12 researchers from MIT, business and government partners will come together to learn, develop and test solutions to “pop-up city” problems. The theme for discussion is Smart Citizens for Smart Cities.
MIT professor Ramesh Raskar who had floated the idea said, “To empower the new digital citizens and to serve the undeserved population, there are numerous challenges. Many problems in India have smart and scalable solutions. Where better to scale these opportunities than at the Kumbh Mela — the biggest congregation of humanity.”
He said that the mela was a place where people are already on a journey to discover both themselves and their cultural roots.
“This is where we can bring together the spirit of innovation that percolates and permeates Indian society,” he said.
Harvard University professor Rahul Mehrotra, who attended the Allahabad Kumbh in 2013 to undertake a study on issues emerging from large-scale human gathering, said, “The Kumbh gave us clarity on how a temporary settlement of 5-7 million can be efficiently managed. Ours was the first such study that looked at the Kumbh with the perspective of urbanism of temporary or what we called an Ephemeral Mega City.”
“It also taught us how we can rapidly deploy a settlement for such a large number of people in a way that is efficient, humane and frugal,” said Mehrotra.
On Monday, a book, The Kumbh Mela: Mapping the Ephemeral Megacity by Harvard professors will be unveiled by Uttar Pradesh chief minister Akhilesh Yadav in Delhi.