Citizens must collaborate to solve public problems

'One Bengaluru' is an initiative to bring people together to solve public problems. Dr Ashwin Mahesh and N S Ramakanth spoke in One Bengaluru's first meeting.

N S Ramakanth  and Dr Ashwin Mahesh interacted with residents of HSR Layout  on June 24 and a wide range of topics were discussed at length including Khata, solar power, solid waste management and reviving lakes.

Balasubramanian Thirunavukkarasu, active citizen and resident of HSR Layout, was instrumental in organising the One Bengaluru meeting. 

One Bangalore meeting. Pic: Balasubramanian Thirunavukkarasu

One Bengaluru

The meeting is the first such one as part of the One Bengaluru initiative. One Bengaluru is a platform to bring together people interested in public problem solving.

Thirunavukkarasu said, “There are lot of well meaning citizens in our city working on various issues. We have been working with elected representatives for quite some time without much progress”. He feels that getting together and learning from each other will make a difference. “We are extremely proud to have started this initiative in our area”, he added.

Srinivas Alavilli of Loksatta party, described how the group came about, “The 200+ volunteers that supported Dr Ashwin Mahesh’s campaign in the recent Graduate MLC election are keen to stay together and bring change in their neighborhood. Instead of trying to change our governance at the top, let us work at local ward level, participate and engage with everyday governance the constitution, we need local leadership in every locality to make a difference”, he explained.

What is the change we need? How can we have better governance?

Dr. Ashwin Mahesh observed that the main issue is with asymmetry of information. He feels people must know what is going on in government and actively seek information and share it with others. “As a responsible citizen, all we have to do is keep ourselves informed on the happenings around us and the rest will follow. Creating proper information channel helps in attaining solutions”, he said

Dr Ashwin Mahesh was of the opinion that the current governance doesn’t have a proper administrative apparatus and political will to run a city of ten million people. “It fails to understand that citizens are part of the government and also part of the system. To create this system, we need watchers, people who care for themselves and their locality”, he added.

For instance, BIG 10 Routes are about to have AC buses very soon. “The communities that pushed for it got it earlier, whereas other routes did not get it because they were unaware of this activity”, Dr Ashwin Mahesh mentioned.

N S Ramakanth explained the local government structure and mode of operation. “Everyone must know specific contact details about responsible government officers of BBMP, BWSSB, BESCOM and other government institutions of the locality. We must understand the BBMP and other institutions hierarchy and how they function. The officials need to know that we are interested in working with them”, he said.

Admiral Narayanan, Retired Naval Officer and resident of HSR Layout, suggested that awareness about BBMP budget and current status of work must be created. “We should get all the relevant information and put up a big hoarding in few places across the ward to bring awareness about ward works”, he said. This proposal got instant approval from audience and some members volunteered to donate funds and design the hoardings.

Haralukunte lake revival discussion

Harlukunte, a lake in Somasundarapalya is getting encroached. The group discussed what can be done to save the lake. The first step would be to mark the boundaries. We also need to involve the community to use and maintain the lake.

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