Building Research Collaboration with India and Kyrgyzstan to explore the role of universities in developing skills for smart cities

Smart cities’ have now led to the proliferation in the discourses and practices of ICT-based urban development in South and Central Asia, particularly, in India and Kyrgyzstan. The Indian government has committed itself to developing 100 smart cities by 2050 to address the rise in urban population by 8%. Similarly, in Kyrgyzstan smart city initiatives have been implemented with UNDP to ensure sustainability, efficiency, and livability of its growing urban population. Additionally, since 2015, both countries have been collaborating in educational and technological sectors to develop their smart city implementation capabilities (Zafar, 2015). However, as in other jurisdictions, the link between ‘smart’ and ‘learning/skills development’ is absent as is the link with the international focus of UNESCO on learning cities (Borkowska & Osborne, 2018).

In the above context, universities are expected to contribute an equitable learning ecosystem for the sustainable development and productive assimilation of marginalised youth populations living and working in these smart cities. Universities should provide the crucial institutional space to realise the concept of the ‘learning city’ which is being promoted globally by UNESCO in emerging economies.  India and Kyrgyzstan – with large but mostly poor and unemployed youth populations - can benefit immensely from universities by integrating the training for employability of their youth populations with human, social, cultural, economic and environmental factors in the cities.

This project funded through an allocation from the Scottish Funding Council to the University of Glasgow to develop its Global Challenges Research Fund (GCRF) work engages with the possibilities of knowledge exchange through partner meetings and site visits to smart cities in India and Kyrgyzstan, as well as a workshop in Glasgow, to explore the core problem of capacity building of universities in emerging economies, particularly in the context of inclusive and equitable smart cities.  The project has the potential to foster distinct and identifiable long-term outcomes that will also benefit internationalisation strategies of the University of Glasgow.

PI & Co-Is - International Collaborators


Dr. Srabani Maitra, School of Education, University of Glasgow

Glasgow Co-Is:

1. Professor Mike Osborne, School of Education, University of Glasgow

2. Professor Muhammad Imran, School of Engineering, University of Glasgow, Vice Dean Glasgow College UESTC

3. Dr. Seth Agbo, Associate Professor, Graduate Studies and Research in Education, Lakehead University, Canada; Visiting Fellow, School of Education, University of Glasgow.

International Co-Is:

Academic Partners:


1. Professor Seema Singh, Department of Economics, Delhi Technological University, New Delhi

2. Dr. Ajith Kaliyath, Associate Professor, Urban Planning, Sushant School of Arts and Architecture, Ansal University, Gurugram, Haryana, India.

3. Dr. Saikat Maitra, Assistant Professor, Public Policy and Management Studies, Indian Institute of Management, Calcutta.



1. Dr. Muratbek Baihodjoev, Vice President Academic Consortium, International University of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

2. Dr. Asylbek Aidaraliev, Rector, International University of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

3. Daniyar Karabaev, Dean, Liberal Arts & Sciences, American University of Central Asia, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan


Non-Academic Partners:


1. Dr. Ellina Samantroy, Fellow and Co-coordinator of Centre for Gender and Labour, V.V. Giri National Labour Institute, New Delhi. It is a premier Institute of Labour Research, Training and Education under the Ministry of Labour and Employment, Government of India.

2. Dr. Rajesh Tandon, Co-Chair, UNESCO Chair on Community Based Research and Social Responsibility in Higher Education; President, Participatory Research in Asia (PRIA), New Delhi. PRIA is a global centre for participatory research and training based in New Delhi.


Dr. Zina Karaeva, Director of the Foreign Languages Institute, International University of Kyrgyzstan, Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan

Funder & Funding Amount

GCRF and Scottish Funding Grant