Sunday, July 26, 2009


Quit cribbing and see what difference you, as a thinking citizen, can make to the city. Help the administration serve you better

Bangalore: No more passing the buck. Bad roads, clogged drains and other woes will now be resolved by citizens’ initiative. Lead Together, an initiative launched by the Times Foundation on Saturday, will focus on greater people participation in administration, right from the ward level.
Delegates at the launch pointed out that the movement can kickstart by developing a
model ward that will be holistically built with equal efforts from both citizens and the administration.
You are accountable
The essence of the campaign, like Lead India, is to make citizens accountable for the city and to stop pointing fingers at the government for every problem. “Corruption and the political system have become synonymous today. But while the blame game is on, where is city patriotism? Lead Together is a much-welcome step to change this mindset. The unholy alliance between contractors, bureaucrats and elected representatives can be made holy if we not only work together but stay together as well,” urban development minister Suresh Kumar said in his opening remarks.
Start in a small way
Adviser to the chief minister on urban affairs, A Ravindra, gave a number of suggestions to make the campaign implementable. “It should start in a small way and weave in anticipatory planning. It can be as basic as solid waste management by segregation at source. Segregating waste before giving it to BBMP contractors can make things simpler. That is where people should start,” he said.
Change your mindset
BBMP commissioner Bharat Lal Meena dwelt upon changing the mindset of citizens as a first step to development. He said no amount of funds can change a mindset. “In some parts of Bangalore educated civilians throw bags of garbage from their buildings without sparing a thought. But in places like the National Games Village where I used to live, people collect garbage and dispose it of their own. Civic sense is vital to make any city better and beautiful,” he added.
“Mobilizing citizen participation is a difficult process. We need to have area sabhas in our city, just like gram sabhas in villages. There are hopes that the new Bangalore governance will define the roles better,” said Janaagraha founder Ramesh Ramanathan.
Additional commissioner of police (traffic and security) Praveen Sood pointed that the city is currently going through ‘labour pangs’. “Many projects are in progress but citizens have not changed their ways. In the first two months of the road to BIA, there were so many accidents. People were driving at 140 to 150 km per hour. Most of them were drunk. Even if we have best infrastructure, these issues need to be addressed,” he said.
H S Balram, Resident Editor of The Times of India, Bangalore, in his introductory remarks, said: “Together we can, and together we will. It is easy to point fingers at the implementing authorities. But remember that the thumb is always pointed at you. That is where citizen participation counts. At TOI, we go beyond our work and partner agencies to make Bangalore better.”

POOLING IN THEIR IDEAS: Bharat Lal Meena, BBMP commissioner; A Ravindra, adviser, urban affairs, government of Karnataka; Suresh Kumar, urban development minister; Ramesh Ramanathan, founderchairman, Janaagraha; Praveen Sood, additional commissioner of police (traffic and security); and H S Balram, Resident Editor, TOI, Bangalore, at the launch of Lead Together initiative on Saturday

OUR PLATFORM: Citizens were all ears at the Lead Together launch


The campaign needs to start in a small way. We can develop a model ward first and then move on to others. As part of public-private partnerships, one area can be taken up for development. For instance, Commercial Street can be made more pedestrian friendly

The administration should be willing to admit something is wrong. They should be willing to partner with people and do things as citizens themselves... Mobilizing people is like gathering sand through a sieve. The main problem is that nobody has the power to voice opinion as a common citizen. People react only as pressure cookers. This must change
Ramesh Ramanathan | FOUNDER, JANAAGRAHA

To make such an initiative successful, representatives and people must not only lead together, but stay together despite differences. Through Lead Together, we will come together to work for long-standing development that concerns people, who matter most... A politician is a person who shakes your hand before elections and shakes your confidence after elections Suresh Kumar | LAW AND URBAN DEVELOPMENT MINISTER

Almost all people have suggestions. But what’s needed to implement them is one voice. There are so many suggestions that contradict each other. For starters, we must identify the common problems people have with one-ways and speed bumps on various roads in the city

Bangalore needs a change in mindset. This campaign and its title is apt because enough talking has been done. Now we need to move on.. No amount of money can bring about a change in mindset. If mindset is changed, then development becomes automatic Bharat Lal Meena | BBMP COMMISSIONER


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