B S Raghavan

New citizens’ initiative at Bangalore

B.S.RAGHAVAN | Updated on February 10, 2013 Published on February 10, 2013

A few high profile denizens of Bangalore have banded themselves together and launched a Political Action Committee (PAC) with Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw of Biocon as the president and T. V. Mohandas Pai, former director of Infosys, and currently heading Manipal Global Education, as the vice-president. The avowed objective is to make Bangalore a better place to live in by establishing good and honest governance.

It has also taken upon itself the task of cleansing the political system by a two-pronged drive. First, it will undertake a campaign to make sure that eligible voters register themselves and the voters’ lists are rid of the usual errors and omissions. Second, it will work towards the right persons being put up by political parties as candidates in the future elections. It will carefully scrutinise the antecedents of the candidates and put its weight behind those who could be depended upon to represent the people conscientiously.

The spirits of the prominent movers and shakers present at the inaugural gathering were lifted by a rousing address by N. R. Narayana Murthy, founder of Infosys, and they were further lifted when Mohandas Pai announced that there was no dearth of resources for the PAC for the next five years.

This one feature alone sets the PAC apart from all the rest, since most such citizens’ initiatives, after a spectacular start, are forced to struggle for funds to support their activities, and eventually languish and peter out.

PAINS AND SORROWS

So far, so good. The objectives are exactly what they should be. Flow of resources is assured. In no time, the PAC will boast an office in some high-rise building with luxurious facilities and hierarchy of personnel. But there are several flies in the ointment.

The participants are all from high and affluent strata of society, English-educated, elitist, and with no immediately evident record of familiarity with the pains and sorrows of the people at the grass roots, leave alone having worked with them, or having been exposed to their daily hassles or even having mingled with them on par.

I know it for a fact that many of the luminaries do not even acknowledge letters written to them or pick up the telephone when persons of some standing, who are also into public causes, wish to talk to them. In short, those constituting the PAC cannot be said to be conspicuously different from those whom they wish to reform. They come from the same cultural stock, with their noses up in the air, and capitalising on the deference they evoke because of their pelf and power to sermonise to others. Gandhiji said, “Be the change you want to see”. Not many in the Bangalore PAC will make the grade judged by this yardstick. The tendency of such do-gooders is to put pressure on others to change, while remaining unchanged themselves in any of their attitudes.

IDEALS OF SERVICE

In this light, the members of the Bangalore PAC should first submit themselves for an induction course of a week or 10 days under persons such as Anna Hazare and Aruna Roy, to get the feel of the problems they want to address.

Second, they should themselves in their personal and public conduct reflect the ideals of service, the first letters of the word standing for sensitivity, empathy, responsiveness, values, involvement, commitment and example.

The work they are taking up should not be just a pastime or publicity stunt, but should consume their whole being for the better part of every day. They should themselves be prepared to jump into the fray and soil their hands, instead of ordering about some paid minions to do this or that.

Third, they should be willing to shed their ego, join hands and network with tested organisations in the field, and share their resources with them and build up their infrastructure.

For instance, the Catalyst Trust of Chennai, which is also into clean politics, good governance and people-participation, has been running more than 200 citizens centres in all the districts of Tamil Nadu, through which the people are encouraged to take charge and activate the official and non-official agencies to solve problems at their own level.

The PAC could convene a meeting of other known civil society organisations, not only to profit from their experience, but also to ascertain their needs and strengthen their hands in their respective spheres of activities.

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Published on February 10, 2013
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