Articles by Srinivas Alavilli

Srinivas Alavilli is a citizen activist based in Bengaluru, working on a variety of issues. He is the co-founder of Citizens for Bengaluru, and is currently Fellow at WRI India.

There is a sense in our city that civic activism, which was once thriving with street protests and events and mass mobilisations like #SteelFlyoverBeda, is disappearing, particularly post COVID. 'Is civic activism dying?' – when we were asked to moderate a masterclass on this topic at the India Civic Summit, organised by Oorvani Foundation on March 23rd, it led to an animated discussion. We agreed that while the masterclass title has to be provocative, the ultimate objective is to understand the trends, get more people to become active citizens by sensing citizens' motivations and fears, and understand the role of…

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A lot has changed in Bengaluru in the last 20 years. Millions of people moved in and made the city their home in the last decade. Lakhs of jobs have been added. Infrastructure too has been added to keep pace with the growing population. Municipal wards went from 100 to 198 to now 243. A new BBMP Act has been enacted that extended the Mayor's term from one year to 2.5 years. The BBMP Act also brought in Zonal level Commissioners and Zonal Councils. We saw so many Chief Ministers, Bengaluru Ministers, Commissioners, and Mayors but one thing remained more…

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Towards the end of 2016, the massive public campaign against the proposed steel flyover, led by Citizens for Bengaluru along with many other groups, not only stopped the Government from building the flyover but also helped build support for improved and better mass public transport in Bengaluru. Protests against elevated corridor project The dormant demand for suburban train gathered steam with the energetic #ChukuBukuBeku rail yatra and all major parties pledged funds and professed keen interest in the project. It also became a topic of discussion during the 2018 Assembly and 2019 Lok Sabha elections. Similarly, the campaign to double…

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A Ward Committee meeting is a unique opportunity for all citizens, regardless of their social or economic status, to sit across the table from officials and participate in ward-level governance. No other major city in India has Ward Committees as Bengaluru does. This is made possible by the ‘BBMP Act 2020’, which replaced the earlier Karnataka Municipal Corporation Act and provides for ward committees. Read more: Everything you must know, as Bengaluru marks a milestone in local governance What is a Ward Committee Meeting? BBMP, the city Corporation of Bengaluru, is divided into eight zones and 243 wards. Each of…

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An infographic by Mint (@livemint) went viral in Bengaluru as the frustration of taxpayers found collective expression on social media. Most people are unaware of what happens to the taxes they pay. Who actually gets that money and how does it get used by the government? Direct tax collection in Metro, FY2021-22. Pic courtesy: Twitter thread by Srinivas Alavilli First things first: All the taxes we pay in our cities, go to one of the three tiers of Government. Union Government (Government of India)State Government (Government of Karnataka, Maharashtra etc.)City Government (Bengaluru Corporation BBMP or Mumbai Corporation BMC etc.) Tax…

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I often get asked why I’m obsessed with ward committees and keep on promoting them despite so many challenges and setbacks. I am indeed obsessed and here’s why. We are still evolving democracy. We can’t just vote for the best candidate and expect him/her to represent us and make things work. Getting elected doesn’t seem to have much to do with the ability to govern. Of all the issues we face in our cities, many of them relate to local governance and not so much about international affairs or policymaking that require deeper engagement and very few have the means…

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MyCityMyBudget, the annual participatory budgeting campaign run by the BBMP in collaboration with Janaagraha and community organisations, was held between February 23 and March 20, 2022 . The campaign reached all 198 The campaign reached all 198 wards under the leadership of community groups, apartment associations, federations and resident welfare associations. A total of 7238 budget inputs were provided by Citizens to make Namma Bengaluru a walkable, public urination-free and green city— 3290 for Public Toilets (46%)2188 for footpath improvements (30%) and1760 for parks (24%). MyCityMyBudget inputs from citizens. Pic credit: Janaagraha Among these categories: In footpaths ‘new footpaths’ has…

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Citizens from different wards of Bengaluru were joined by those across the country to participate in Janaagraha’s #CityPolitics webinar, titled ‘MyCityMyBudget Phase 2 – Are Ward Committees using budget allocated to them’, on Saturday, January 22nd. The webinar discussed how Bengaluru’s ward committees have been utilising the budget allocated to them. Last August, BBMP set precedent by allotting Rs 60 lakh to each of its 198 ward committees. The decision was taken after over 9,000 citizens submitted inputs on how ward budgets need to be spent, in response to the #MyCityMyBudget (MCMB) campaign (jointly launched by BBMP and the NGO…

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The recent weeks have been difficult for Bengalureans. Bad roads and potholes we were already used to, especially around monsoon; but this year, the situation got worse. Garbage seems to be piling up once again. The biggest shock came when several buildings collapsed, just like that. Thankfully there is no loss of life, but it exposed the cracks in our system and made many of us wonder if all the unchecked growth is coming back to haunt us. While most citizens are outraged, very few express frustration publicly. A small subset of them want to ‘do something’ to ‘fix things’.…

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The more important question is: What should they be doing? From what I can see, some are involved in the distribution of food and rations, some have taken a more proactive approach in organising home delivery of medicines and groceries, some are seen buying vegetables directly from the farmers and some are busy sticking labels on government-provided ration kits. Now, all this is good, but it doesn’t really fulfil their job description. Functions of MPs and MLAs MPs and MLAs perform two main functions:  Legislation: Pass laws Oversight: Ensure government performs as expected Oversight includes monitoring government programmes, identifying gaps…

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