Preparing Bangalore's future civic leaders (Karnataka Newsletter)
As Bangalore's problems -- infrastructure to waste management -- mount, so do efforts of the government, mostly not yielding desired results. Private initiatives now promise better civic leadership for the city in the coming years.
For the first time a group of concerned citizens has formed a Bangalore Political Action Committee (B.PAC) and is training 66 people in civic administration in the hope that they will be corporators and provide better leadership to solve the Karnataka capital's myriad problems.
The group of 66 includes graduates, post-graduates and civic activists. Their nine-month training classes are on public policy, municipal administration and campaign finance for three months and field work for six months to help prepare an action plan.
The training, named B.PAC Civic Leadership Incubator Program (B.CLIP), is free, though each candidate has to make a Rs.5,000 refundable deposit.
The main movers of the B.PAC include Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, founder of India's leading biotech company Biocon, T.V. Mohandas Pai, former director of IT bellwether Infosys, and K. Jairaj, retired additional chief secretary of Karnataka.
The B.PAC says it launched the B.CLIP to "select, train and support talented individuals who wish to transform their city by contesting municipal corporation elections".
The next elections to the 198-member BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike or Greater Bangalore City Corporation) is due in 2015.
Now the BBMP is ruled by the Bharatiya Janata Party which captured power in the civic body for the first time in 2010.
Its rule has seen marred by the massive garbage crisis that hit Bangalore last year with the garden city increasingly being dubbed the garbage city.
"By equipping candidates with skills in public policy analysis, municipal administration, political landscape and election campaign dynamics, the incubator project will create a pipeline of candidates that B.PAC and other civil society organizations can endorse for the future BBMP elections," B.PAC says.
The B.CLIP's short-term goal is "to train, develop and prepare the participants of this program to be ready to participate in the political process leading up to the 2015 BBMP elections".
The B.PAC will not automatically endorse the candidature of those it trains if they contest the BBMP elections. Its support is independent of this programme, it says.
The B.CLIP's long term goal is "to motivate citizens to enter public service in order to ensure adequate leadership capacity to govern the city better".
The idea, B.PAC says, is "to encourage passionate and concerned citizens to enter public service with a view to creating a new cadre of civic leaders who will successfully drive and scale civic initiatives at the grass roots and create transformative change in our communities through good governance".
The training, open only to people registered as voters, has English and Kannada language facilitators.
In theory classes, the trainees "will learn about urbanisation, the economics of parking, budgeting and more; the practice track will focus on case studies of Bangalore's challenges from practitioners, including waste management, water supply, road management and others and the field track will get students started on engaging their constituents and start framing solutions to local challenges."
At the launch of the programme, B.PAC president Kiran Mazumdar Shaw described it as a very significant milestone in the long and challenging journey to improve governance in this city.
Irrespective of whether those trained by B.CLIP become corporators or not and whether they will succeed in taking on entrenched political classes, Bangaloreans will at least have one more option to try to bring back to the city the better days it has seen.
(V.S. Karnic can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)
(Posted on 14-12-2013)