By Sama Khan, Persis Taraporevala, Marie-Hélène Zérah
In the wake of the global enthusiasm for so-called smart cities, the Indian government launched a programme in 2015 to transform one hundred of its cities into Smart Cities. Given the novelty of this policy, this article adopts a speculative approach and questions the apparent challenges and paradoxes related to its implementation. The methodology is based on a long-term tracking of Indian public policies and a review of the first steps of the Smart City Mission (SCM). The article argues that, on the one hand, this ambitious programme offers new opportunities to many private actors to the detriment of the organizational capacity of cities and, on the other hand, it embodies a renewed form of deep distrust of urban local democracy.