Wednesday, November 04, 2009

‘Active citizenry can make a difference’

‘Active citizenry can make a difference’
Times NIE Newsmakers’ Meet Discusses Civic Issues, Star Reporters Steal Show
— Amrita Sampathkumar

Bangalore: Change was the catch phrase at the Times NIE Newsmakers’ Meet held in Bangalore on Tuesday.
Calling on the citizenry to bring about a change, BBMP commissioner Bharat Lal Meena said: “Every city has its share of problems but as long as the citizenry remains passive in tackling issues at hand, no enforcement will bring about a change.’’
Attended by 250-odd high school students and held at Bishop Cotton Boys’ School, the annual event provided a forum for budding journalists to not just seek answers on the city’s woes but also to meet and interact with the editorial board of The Times of India. The event saw a convergence of students with varying degrees of vehemence to make a change.
The topic ‘Bangalore’s public infrastructure: Pause or Applause’ led to a discussion into various issues that included sanitation, civic deficiencies and a review of the BBMP’s performance over the past few months.
Addressing the gathering, Meena said the BBMP will be investing Rs 22,000 crore on various infrastructure like flyovers, parks, lakes etc. “Putting all this together is bound to cause some inconvenience to citizens. It cannot be completely avoided, but we will try to minimise it. Infrastructure takes time to put into place. Meanwhile, there are other aspects that need to be taken care of. Cleanliness for one. Civic sense too needs to improve, as many of our problems in the city are due to bad civic sense. It does not help that people throw garbage on the roads and from apartments after BBMP workers have cleaned up. The media and citizenry must together come to the rescue of the BBMP, he said.”
The commissioner had to tackle many questions from young, aspiring journalists and writers from over 125 schools across the city. While a student probed the matter of improper planning and consequential failure of public works, Meena acknowledged that lack of proper planning and coordination between intra-governmental bodies was the cause for this.
Another student pointed out that Bangalore lags behind cities like Delhi in terms of being eco-friendly, with the latter opting to be a plastic-free city sometime ago. Meena replied, “Issuing a blanket ban on plastic is an effortless task. What makes the issue difficult is the enforcement of the ban and creating awareness about it.’’
In reply to a question on health and sanitation, he added: “As long as we have people throwing garbage from their third floor apartments onto roads or empty playgrounds, the BBMP cannot do much to help citizens.’’
He further emphasized on the role of every citizen to play an active role in policy-making and execution, to ensure hassle-free administration of the city.
Earlier in the day, students were introduced to the concept of student reporter and star correspondent by Franklyn James, vice-president, RMD, Times Group. Resident Editor of The Times of India H S Balram briefed the school reporters on the nuances of journalism and outlined a few ways to effective reporting. TOI metro chief S Seethalakshmi summarised the singular aspects of a reporter’s job and its functioning.
Later, a test was conducted to identify the Times NIE Star Correspondents, who will try to push the boundary with their journalistic skills and knowledge quotient on current affairs.
The government has roped in hundreds of students from government schools to be part of its movement to address people’s problems in the city. All these children have been issued self-addressed postcards to write back to BBMP about any problem they come across. These cards will be looked at by BBMP officials and the woes will be tackled at the earliest. According to BBMP commissioner Meena, the move aims to solve citizens’ problems in the shortest possible time.
Neha A Marla - Vidyaniketan, Suhas M - Sudarshan Vidya Mandir, Aditya Gollakota - Ryan International, Kundanahalli, and Sachin Jindal - New Baldwin International Residential School, received the Star Correspondent Award for 2008-’09 for commendable contributions on a regular basis to the student edition.


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