Bangalore initiative: Training local leaders to be good corporators

Bangalore, June 12 (IANS) Fed up with Bangalore being in the news for all the wrong reasons - strewn garbage, chaotic traffic, air pollution, water scarcity, et al - a citizen's group is to launch a "leadership incubator" for aspiring corporators aimed at raising the governance quotient in the city known as India's tech capital. Civic elections are due in less than two years.

"Currently this is meant for aspiring corporators. We will examine if we need to extend this to existing ones as well," said Revathy Ashok of the Bangalore Political Action Committee (B.PAC), which is backed by the city's top movers and shakers.

While details of the course are being worked out, Ashok said "the programme is planned to be of 18 months' duration."

The first three months would centre on induction of selected participants with "sessions from experts on leadership, campaign management, branding , outreach and communications, public policy, ethics, BBMP (Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike or the Greater Bangalore City Corporations) and governance structure, legal and financial issues related to BBMP, development and diversity issues in the city, PPP (public-private partnership) models and the like," Ashok told IANS in an interview.

The next 15 months would be "on the field work at the ward level consisting of documentation of issues, identification of problems and suggesting solutions and working with citizens' groups to solve at least two key issues," she said.

"This is to ensure that theoretical knowledge is supported by strong grassroots experience in public service", Ashok pointed out.

B.PAC president Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, head of biotechnology major Biocon, last week unveiled plans to start the training course.

B.PAC was formed in February by leading entrepreneurs, former bureaucrats, sportspersons and artists to work for a better Bangalore. It has the backing of IT icon and Infosys co-founder N.R. Narayana Murthy.

While Mazumdar-Shaw heads B.PAC, former Infosys director and now head of Manipal Global Education Services T.V. Mohandas Pai is the vice president and former Karnataka additional chief secretary K. Jairaj is the secretary. Former athlete Ashwini Nachappa, swimmer Nisha Millet and Bharatanatyam dancer Vani Ganapathy are among the trustees.

The plan appears timely as elections to the 198-member BBMP are due in less than two years. The city is divided into 198 wards.

The last election was held in April 2010 when the Bharatiya Janata Party captured the civic body for the first time.

On whether B.PAC would provide the training free or charge a fee, Ashok said "a fee will be charged so that the candidates take this more seriously. However, we will try to subsidise this to the extent possible".

Details about the quantum of the fee are being worked out.

Asked if political parties were willing to support the programme, Ashok said: "These are early days. We have not been approached by any political party. Whatever we do, we will be party agnostic, non-partisan and apolitical. We want to develop at least 100 young leaders from the grassroots to become good corporators."

Bangalore is now home to nearly 10 million people and over four million vehicles but infrastructure development has not kept pace with its rapid growth, particularly after it became the country's IT hub in late 1990s.

With the growth came traffic congestion compounded by poorly maintained roads and vehicular pollution. In the last one year, the city's biggest problem has become garbage disposal with BBMP officials and the elected representatives seemingly clueless on finding a lasting solution.

(V.S. Karnic can be contacted at vs.karnic@ians.in)

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