A Parallel between the Wizards of Hogwart & CSCLeaders, Commonwealth

Acquiring knowledge is a strange phenomenon; it is limitless and infinite, leading one on a journey of pursuit that only ends when the soul departs the body. Applying that knowledge however, is even stranger; to what extent is it converted into a tangible result totally depends on an individual.

Three days into Part 1 of CSCLeaders Programme by Commonwealth, and my mind is already constantly playing a dialogue between what can be and to what degree; what limits us, and if there really are any limits; what makes us (perhaps falsely) believe that the infinite is in fact, finite.

We gather in Oxford – 100 participants from 20 different countries, with over 125 contributors, 58 different organization visits, and all here for one challenge – What makes a city smart? Apart from the fact that a smart city is a desire, a need, and the way forward both for the developed countries as well as the developing nations; the mere realization that countless minds will be at work exploring the challenge and evoking the desire to make it happen, increases the zest. To add to the effectiveness, the seemingly unassuming details such as the CSCLeaders Hogwart style dinner on one of the initial evenings made one feel like being in the presence of amazing wizards from Harry Potter.

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My question: “In a place like Karachi (Pakistan), where the true potential of the city is marred by poorly planned infrastructure, pollution, street crime and general indifference, where does one start? Are we, in Karachi, far from being able to achieve even a fraction of a smart city in the near future?” The answer came from the group, and an even more interesting reply came from the thought that crossed my mind when I experienced the ‘Hogwart’ dinner. Being in the company of the diverse group at CSCLeaders and the knowledge exchange that is and will continue to take place between the group, the speakers, and the contributors, is no less than being taught how to fight evil as the young wizards in Harry Potter did. Along with skill and talent, being able to identify the crux of the problems that cities face is important. Leadership and the vision of the leaders have the capacity to convert challenges into opportunities. I can’t help but continue to draw a parallel between the young wizards of Hogwart who with talent and leadership battled the evil, and the incredible and energetic CSCLeaders who, with diverse cultures and different perspectives are tackling the challenges in their own respective settings. Environments may be different in each of our countries or the cities we might propose in the programme, but the very basics that we would require to head towards bringing a local smart city to life will be the same – we all need economic, social, technological and transport interventions and solutions to make a smart city.

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Although my thoughts above may seem slightly dispersed, but as we proceed with the programme, deep within my heart and strongly taking form in my mind is one thought – the identity of Karachi MUST change from being a terror-struck city to one progressing towards better governance, improved socio-economic landscape, smart leadership, and an empowered and engaged community that demands and makes all that happen! How that can be achieved in the current circumstances; well, we do have the ‘Hogwarts wizards’ assembled here for CSCLeaders 2015; I am keen to observe, learn and share with them the best way forward for a great ecosystem and a technologically innovative approach that leads to the development of a city, any city!

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