Monday, July 26, 2010

Wake up, Bangalore, it's time to act. People's power can work wonders

Wake up, Bangalore, it's time to act. People's power can work wonders

Sudhir Pai, secretary, Krishna Apartment Owners' Welfare Association, and a petitioner in the case to stop the National Military Memorial from coming up at the Indira Gandhi Musical Fountain, is this week's Super Citizen. Pai tells Bosky Khanna how you and I can take on more active roles in making this city a better place to live in

Bosky Khanna

Citizen as a catalyst for change
Yes, it's possible. What it takes is to understand a few ground rules before taking the plunge. The government has armed the citizen with powerful tools such as the RTI (right to information) Act and PIL (public interest litigation). The citizen must use them at the right time and in the right manner to highlight causes that affect the citizens.
In this, it helps to know what the law says. If there is a law in place related to the cause you are fighting for, the government is obliged to listen to you. Where a law is very clear, a legal battle may not be needed. As a last resort, the citizen can knock on the doors of judiciary. In such a situation, one must take it up bravely and fight till the issue is resolved.

Many drops make an ocean
It's all about people power at the end of the day. There's nothing like collective support; getting people together to fight for a common cause not just gives your cause more power, it also gives you the strength to carry on. Try to enlist the support of your local corporator, too.
The people who support you must come together knowing well how crucial the cause is. It is easier to bring people together when they see a face — one person who is taking up the issue on your behalf. There will be sympathisers, too, but there must be someone who has to lead the path.
Influentials are important and help to some extent in keeping the pressure on the authorities to deliver. They lend a voice to important issues. But if there are no influentials who have taken up the cause, one must still have the faith to go ahead. One must know what is right and then people will follow.
The best example where collective strength has the power to work is in the case of the government's road widening plan. If people get together and protest against the plan, the government will have no choice but to relent. But one should keep in mind that protests should not inconvenience commoners. It eventually bounces back, because then you have to bear the brunt of the curses of hundreds of people.

Be in it for the long haul, be ready
If you are right and you know the law is with you, there is no need to get intimidated. The concept of 'please adjust' is over — that was in the 1970s and 1980s. Now it is high time Bangalore wakes up and fights for its rights.
When the fight is long and tedious, and in cases where family and children are involved, it can get daunting. But do not succumb. If you are threatened at any point, you should collectively act and take help. There is no harm in taking a step back, but never give up.
How not to be a fence sitter
Play the role of an activist. Get a momentum going and bring people together. Residents' welfare associations can help here and corporators, too, have to be pulled up and held accountable for anything that goes wrong in the neighbourhood.
It helps to have a support system in place. First, be convinced yourself. Sincerity is important along with the right information. As a base plan, know your rights and be prepared to lend some time for the cause. There may be one person dedicated to work on the issue, but people must support him/her as and when the need arises. Take help from the media, a good support system and a voice for your cause

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