Our Smarter Cities Challenge: Travel to the city of Surat, India with a small team of other IBMers, work with city leaders, and in just three weeks, develop a plan to help make the city “smarter.”
Surat (pronounced, “SUE-raht”) has mills that produce vast quantities of silk, cotton and manmade fibers. It is known as the Silk City. It is also a huge hub for the diamond market: 90% of the world’s diamonds are cut and polished here. These industries provide so many job opportunities that people have been migrating to Surat from across the country, and the city’s population has been growing exponentially. Surat is the world’s fourth fastest growing city.
January 26 is Republic Day in India, which observes the adoption of the Indian Constitution in 1950. Our team celebrated the holiday by driving out of town to a salt marshy area called Dandi, by the Arabian Sea. There, in 1930, Mahatma Gandhi staged an act of civil disobedience, to protest British rule in India. He and an ever-increasing crowd of followers marched to Dandi to challenge a British-imposed tax on salt. A huge statue of Gandhi holding a handful of salt stands outside, near a plaque that reads: “Here on April 6, 1930 A.D. Gandhiji broke the Salt Law, picked salt and challenged the rule of the mighty British which ultimately won for our motherland freedom on August 15, 1947.”