FB activists turn crusaders of participatory democracy

Post-Whitefield Rising, citizens become part of ward committees

FB activists turn crusaders of participatory democracy

From just being Facebook activists and WhatsApp messengers, a group of professionals has decided to be a part of the solution.

Technocrats and professionals who were part of Whitefield Rising have become part of two ward committees in Mahadevapura Assembly constituency to ensure that they become part of the development of their ward right from the planning stage of BBMP works to their execution.

Thanks to the Whitefield Rising movement, politicians are responding to the demands of  the ‘educated and protesting’ citizenry. They are accommodating 50 per cent non-political members in ward committees. In the past, members were nominated based on their political affiliations.

Anjali Saini and Vijya Mane, founder members of Whitefield Rising, had been pressing the elected representatives to set up these ward committees for the last year and a half.

They even prepared a citizen manifesto during the BBMP elections which those getting elected should implement. “One of the first things was setting up ward committees represented by citizens,” Mane, who is an electronics engineer, said.

When representatives from Whitefield approached MLA Aravind Limbavali, he readily agreed to set up ward committees with 50 per cent representation for non-political persons in wards represented by BJP corporators. Congress corporators too agreed to this.

There are eight wards in Mahadevapura, including Varthur and Kadugodi. 

“We plan similar committees in all eight wards besides extending them to all areas falling under Outer Ring Road,” Mane said.

R K Misra, who is also part of Whitefield Rising, says this model can be replicated in other BBMP wards. “This is participative democracy in letter and spirit. This is citizens’ self-governance as envisaged in our Constitution,” he said.

Vijay Giri, now a member of Kadugodi ward committee, said that there was no point just complaining.

He has been residing in the area for more than a decade and works at Intel.

Mahalakshmi, an entrepreneur and IT professional with over two decades of experience, says that all this was possible because of the large-scale participation of people in Whitefield Rising.

“There is a clear change of perception by leaders. Earlier they were not responsive. Now they are approaching us, asking what the problem is and willing to solve it,” she says. 

Mahalakshmi is a member of the Varthur ward committee. Like her, Gautam Mishra, an alumni of NIT Durgapur and IIM Bangalore, joined the Kadugodi ward committee. Both of them were residents of Whitefield area for over a decade. They say that it is better to be a part of the process than just complain.

“We can bring in some change, best corporate practices and at least register our protest,” says Mishra, who has his own start-up Green Tech.
 

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