Friday, December 24, 2004

Save our City, implore high-profile residents

Save our City, implore high-profile residents

Deccan Herald

There were many ideas but no easy answers. The debate for Bangalore by some of its high profile residents on Thursday evening was clear on one thing though - something has to be done about governance in Bangalore. The occasion was the discussion on ‘Infrastructure and the City’ organised by CNBC TV 18 and Infosys Technologies.

Janagraha founder Ramesh Ramanathan it seemed had a clue to hold out. Drawing an equation for the rural-urban divide - a much spoken about topic these days, he noted thus: In rural India people have the opportunity to participate closely in governance by way of the grama sabhas, but they do not have the capacity to tap the potential in that opportunity. Whereas in urban India there is so much capacity but so little opportunity to contribute to governance.

Public Affairs Centre Director Samuel Paul said that a new kind of burden was being put on the city by the new industries. The private sector today provides enough money to its employees such that the latter can afford comforts eg., a car, but where are the roads? He also wondered about the ‘political reluctance’ to move forward with the projects that are already approved.

Nandi Infrastructure MD Ashok Kheny who opined that corruption and incompetency was inbuilt in the system suggested that perhaps the government should be left to concentrate on social welfare issues and the industries should take on the task of development in their own hands.

The big voice of the evening for the private sector and governance change was Infosys Director and Head (Finance and Administration) T V Mohan Das Pai. “Time has come for Bangalore to have a full-time mayor with a five year tenure, we should fix the governance system first,” he said and cited the example of Delhi. The moment Delhi became a state its MLAs got cracking with governance, he noted.

HAL Chairman Ashok Baweja noted that bench marking goals was essential and opined that the contribution of the private sector for Bangalore by far have been only fragmented. A concerted effort would make a difference, he said.


Their common cause was Bangalore and yet they battled each other for it.

Infosys Director and Head (Finance and Administration) T V Mohan Das Pai: We (private sector) have generated so much of employment and contribute so much to the city by way of revenue. It’s the government’s job to build the infrastructure. If we have to finance the infrastructure too, why do we need the government?

Karnataka Urban Infrastructure Development and Finance Corporation M D K P Krishnan: In every other Metro, the airport was built by the Centre. Just because Bangalore grew up late doesn’t mean the state government has to be saddled with a bill of Rs 250 crore. Bangalore is the third highest Income Tax paying city next to Delhi and Mumbai, but it doesn’t get the kind of returns the metros get. By the way, the bulk of the Income Tax comes from Public Sector Banks and not the private sector..


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