On a cloudy Saturday morning, Bengalureans who frequent Lalbagh Botanical Gardens were in for a baffling visual, as a bunch of youngsters and activists were seen holding posters and banners that read ‘Corporator No. 1’ as part of a freeze mob. The objective, as it turns out, was to draw attention to the first-ever citizen driven Corporator No.1 awards, wherein Bengalureans rate their local body representative based on his/her efficacy.
The freeze mob, meanwhile, drew varied responses, with onlookers commenting about the futility of the award ceremony, given that most people don’t even know the ward numbers they belong to or their local representatives. Some were heard talking about how those in power are in it only for the money and so on and so forth.
Srinivas Alavilli of Citizens for Bengaluru , the organisation that conducted the freeze mob and is behind the upcoming award function, says that it is this mentality that has pushed the cause of the Corporator No. 1 awards. “We are used to rating everything today using our smartphones, be it a restaurant, a delivery boy or a taxi driver. But how many of us rate the most basic necessities like garbage management or public toilets. We want to award the best corporators and recognise their efforts,” says Srinivas.
He adds, “We aren’t comparing areas or having a race. We are trying to honour those who are encouraging citizen participation. It is six months since the ward committees have come into play. So, if a corporator has had six monthly meetings, as mandated by rule thus far, then there are chances that he or she is going to be a winner. This initiative will encourage those who are already following this initiative and push others to now have these meetings for efficient citizen partnership.”
Usually, ward committee meetings are held on the first Saturday of every month, where the corporator, along with other people responsible for the well-being of the area, which could include engineers from civic bodies like the BWSSB and BESCOM, local traffic cops and even the local transport in-charge officials, meet and partake in discussions with citizens. “It is hard even for the Chief Minister to get so many people together at a time, but the ward committees have made that happen. This is what we want citizens to also understand through this exercise,” says Srinivas.
The power of ward committees
l It lets people of a ward come together and resolve local issues locally in the presence of officials from all departments including police
l Allows people to plan ahead by reconciling demands from within
l Has 10 members who must be residents of the ward familiar with local issues
l Everyone can attend ward committee meetings
l If a ward committee decides to take up work and demands budget, BBMP cannot reject
How and why does a corporator win
It is six months since the ward committees have come into play. So, if a corporator has had six monthly meetings, as mandated by rule thus far, then there are chances that he or she is going to be a winner.