It started with Chicago in 2001 and soon the initiative rolled out year after year to other world cities like London, Ullan Bator, St. Petersburg, Moscow, Kuala Lumpur, Johannesburg, Seoul, and Tokyo and there will be more additions over the years. These cities enjoy the sister city status with the city of Delhi. A kind of bonding, much like a relationship shared between siblings but across thousands of miles owing to geographical separation.
European countries call this twinning, something akin to pairing of cities in an invisible bond which facilitates economic, cultural, educational and technological exchange in a focused way for mutual benefit.
Just as sisters enjoy a special relationship in real life, these sister cities also go out of their way to help each other, to learn from one another and to reach out to people and exchange a better understanding of the underlying problems and appreciation of what each one has to offer in countless aspects.
Learning From One Another
Delegations from these cities pay regular visits and developed cities like Chicago and London have much to offer to Delhi in terms of studying and learning the models developed and adopted by these cities in town planning, efficient public transport systems, disaster management techniques, implementation of law enforcement and the security apparatus for protecting the citizens from extremist and terrorist elements.
The same goes for civic facilities like sewerage systems, drinking water supplies and environmental impact issues which both share and collaborate to improve the living standard of the city dwellers. Cultural exchange plays a very important role in bringing the sister cities closer on the ground as compared to what has been inked on paper by the respective governments.
Such pacts offer unique and special privileges to troupes from Delhi to perform their cultural acts comprising of music, art and dance before an audience which has had little exposure to Indian culture and traditions, thereby spreading the soft power of India.
The Indian Diaspora and sizeable NRI population also benefits and in turn uses its vast resources and influence in benefitting Delhi under the sister city pacts.
Driving Initiatives Forward
The sister city pact signed with London for instance has identified several core areas and formed joint working committees that include prominent personalities from both the cities. Some major initiatives include technological and management assistance from the London authorities to help clean up the heavily polluted River Yamuna. Similarly, burdened with a huge population, waste management and recycling is like a thorn in Delhi’s belly and cities like London, Chicago and Tokyo, being sister cities have stepped in to help Delhi manage these macro and micro issues.
In the field of education, affluent western cities are helping Delhi design and develop primary and secondary education models for the millions, with effective monitoring systems to deliver education to the lowest strata of the city population.
The huge vehicular traffic and increasing pressure on the transport in Delhi can be addressed effectively with the active assistance of these sister cities.