WhatsApp groups big on civic activism

WhatsApp groups big on civic activism

They are used to report problems and quickly catch the attention of officials concerned

Tech-savvy citizens are using WhatsApp groups to address civic problems and often to get officials to attend to them. Hundreds of groups are active, and are reporting considerable success. Metrolife spoke to some groups to understand how they work.

Nithya Reddy, president of the Resident Welfare Association of Richmond Town and Langford Town, says groups are created to address specific problems.

“Each group is meant for a purpose. The larger groups include members of the association while the smaller ones cover BBMP and BWSSB officials, police,” she says.

Any problem that crops up in the group is forwarded immediately to the officials concerned. “Our locality is free of traffic black spots. The officials address the problem as soon as they are raised and thus, Whatsapp groups are the quickest mode of resolving civic issues,” she says.

The association also runs a weekly magazine and conducts annual meetings. The Citizens Welfare Association of Richmond and Langford Town hosted a carnival last Sunday with the theme, ‘Let’s Bring Back the Music.’

“The entire neighbourhood got together for a day of music, food, and fun. It also aimed at zero waste, getting steel plates and tumblers from Adamya Chetana Foundation.

Recycled decor displayed at the carnival organised
by the Citizens Welfare Association WhatsApp group

Tara Krishnaswamy, co-founder of Citizens for Bengaluru, says many successful campaigns, such as #SteelFlyoverBeda, #ChukuBukuBeku, and #ModaluTrainBeku campaign were co-ordinated over WhatsApp groups.

“The thing about WhatsApp groups is that they are not like other social media platforms. People who are a part of the groups are completely involved and are clear about what they are getting into,” she says.

Interested people can follow Citizens for Bengaluru on Facebook and later the dedicated people will be added to the WhatsApp group by the admin, along the course.

Other causes

Teach Kannada: A WhatsApp group called ‘Namma Hakku,’ founded by techie Ramya, focuses on the Kannada cause. The group has 250 members, including many non-Kannadigas. “The initiative is to preserve Kannada and encourage Kannada-medium children left out in society,” she says.
Plant trees: ‘Kalpavruksha’ is run by members of the Happy World Foundation, a voluntary organisation founded in Bengaluru in 2013. The group encourages tree-planting every weekend. It is open to all the nature enthusiasts.

Hot topics being talked about

The groups are mostly problem-reporting platforms, with members talking about deficiencies in street lighting, water supply and sewerage, traffic, footpath maintenance, and road blocks during religious processions.