Smart and eco-cities have become important notions for thinking about urban futures. This article contributes to these ongoing debates about smart and eco-urbanism by focussing on recent urbanisation initiatives in Asia. Our study of India’s Smart Cities Mission launched under the administration of Narendra Modi and China’s All-In-One eco-cities project initiated by Xi Jinpin unfolds in two corresponding narratives. Roy and Ong’s [2011. Worlding Cities: Asian Experiments and the Art of Being Global. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell] “worlding cities” serves as the theoretical backdrop of our analysis. Based on a careful review of a diverse set of academic literature, policy and other sources we identify five process-dimensions for analysing the respective urban approaches. We show how the specific features of China’s and India’s urban focus, organisation, implementation, governance and embedding manifest both nations’ approaches to smart and eco-urbanism. We argue that India’s Smart City Mission and China’s All-in-One project are firmly anchored in broader agendas of change that are set out to transform the nation and extend into time. The Indian Smart City Mission is part of a broader ambition to transform the nation enabling her “smart incarnation” in modernity. Smart technologies are seen as the key drivers of change. In China the framework of ecological civilisation continues a 5000-year historical tradition of civilisation excellence. By explicitly linking eco-urbanism to the framework, eco-cities become a means to enact ecological civilisation on the (urban) ground.
- smart cities