Category Archives: public governance

NDTV seeks BCIL viewpoint on Bangalore 2031


bangalore-city-view
NDTV Profit invited a small panel of building industry experts across India for a debate on Bangalore and its plan for 2031 and 2035. The news peg was the need of the Bangalore Development Authority to validate the 2015 CDP and the creation of the new CDP 2031.

It was also to discuss the regional metropolitan plan 2035 that the state government is now toying with. The panelists were, apart from Hariharan, Naresh Narasimhan who heads one of the largest architectural practices in India; the head of a Bangalore-based builder company and an urban planning expert from Mumbai.
The discussion revolved around the government clearing the Intermediary Ring Road at a massive cost of Rs 50 crores to a kilometer for a total of 116 kilometers that will girdle the city.
The panel questioned the brutality of such public expenditure. The panel questioned the surreptitious internal debate on RMP 2035 being carried out by the Govt agencies without an opportunity for the public to be consulted. The experts explored options of Govt contributing to the possibility of such public consulting on public decisions.
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Independence or in-dependence?

We have to know that there is always another side. The stand you take, as they say, depends on which side you sit. The need to see the other person’s viewpoint is central to any enrolment we seek of other people to our collective concerns.

There is an identity that is whole, and many ways of see what that means as quality of life, in the end, for India and us as people.

There are 600 million young Indians under 25. Nearly 150 million of them are just turning 18. We need 1 million jobs a month for the next 300 months if we have to keep young aspirations fulfilled. There are less than 2 pc who are graduates, and 94 per cent of work force in all segments is literate. The make the wealth. The small majority of educated only manage the wealth.

There are 260,000 panchayats. Every 30th Indian is an elected person, with nearly 30 million who are elected by some body or other — panchayats, urban local bodies, cooperatives, unions, different administrative bodies across both rural and urban India.

Clearly those who have 20 to 30 years of good working years before them should focus on building opportunities out of every challenge and deficit that exists.

In the room today at the CSO meet, the elephant that was terribly missing and we were not even aware of is Governance. Not government. Lincoln’s famous line from the Gettysburg address, “of, by and for the people” needs amending. He forgot the 4th preposition: from the people.

Governments as we have known them in the last hundred years have outlived their utility, if ever they had one. For 2,000 years India saw self-governance at the village. We need to reinvent that mechanism of self-governing with actions on all urban infrastructure needs coming from the people, all of us. No one stops us from doing it, except our own inertia. Hamare Mai baap sarkar to karegi, is the stock response you get in many villages of today. We heard Sunday too at least two participants saying that the government should be doing it.

Over 50 years with multiple subsidies and incentives and the government trampling over every institution of governance, people at the local levels of administration have been emasculated of their ability to govern themselves. In every village there are now at least 32 schemes running — from housing, to health, to farm subsidies, to charities and donations for temples and mosques and churches. The need for planning and shaping one’s own destiny is non-existent.  

There has to be a return to that past into this future if we have to get the 600 plus districts to secure sustainable ways of working. The single biggest hurdle is the government of course, for the beast will resist every attempt to cage it. How do we the people decide therefore to find ways of ridding ourselves of our dependence on the Government, and not increasing it? How do we stop ourselves from saying, The Government should do this, or that? How do we discourage any debate on what the Government should be doing to mend their ways and bringing efficiency?

That will indeed be Poorna Swaraj. We are colonized still. By many forms of government and the bureaucracy that touch our lives. It is more so in small towns and in villages than it is in urban India. Its invidious influence has to be stopped.

But this will mean taking upon ourselves all those things we can do without the government — energy, water, waste, education, health, food and agriculture, housing. If in each of these areas we are able to find solutions and make investments in our own homes, and villages and city wards, we will then secure freedom from the government and its tentacles. Imagine a situation where as amass of people we are able to say No to the Government and run our housing colonies with the water supply board, or the sewerage board, the electricity board, and the waste-collecting contractors of the city municipalities. All these agencies will panic! We would have shown them we don’t need them.

It is not an ideal. It is within the realm of possibility. Look at what happened to the Telephone Exchanges of the 1980s which used to suppress demand so badly that you had to wait in years-long line for securing a telephone line. They have been consigned to the dustbin. The same happened to the Post Office system which was as large as it used to be. Can you now imagine making a ‘lightning call’ and waiting for 3 hours to reach someone who is just 12 hours away? Many in young India do not even know of such scenarios that existed here until 20 years ago.
It is such Poorna Swaraj from the Government that we should secure.

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Bhaskar Save : “Gandhi of Natural Farming”

Bhaskar Save, acclaimed as “Gandhi of Natural Farming”, is a 92 year old man who has redefined the principles of natural farming incorporating Gandhian philosophy into the agricultural practices. He owns a 14 acre orchard farm, with 10 acres covered by a mixed crop of coconut and chikoo (sapota) and a few tree species. Another 2 acres is used for cultivating seasonal field crops in an organically sustainable manner. And the rest 2 acres is a nursery for coconut saplings that grow well in the coastal region of the location.

“Coooperation is the fundamental Law of nature”, reads the sign at Bhaskar Save’s farm, Kalpavruksha, located on the Coastal Highway near village Dehri, District Valsad, in southernmost coastal Gujarat, a few km north of the Maharashtra-Gujarat border.

Bhaskar supports the theory that nature is only creator. He says that there are six factors of nature that interact with sunlight and maintain a balance in Nature’s grand symphony. These are air, water and soil along with the three orders of life – vanaspatisrushti (plant kingdom), jeevsrushti (insects and smaller organisms) and pranisrushti (animal kingdom).

Today’s farming practices are more economy centric as opposed to sustainable farming. The pressure on farmers for increase in yield has led them to resort to measures that are unhealthy for the soil and the organisms in them. Excessive uses of pesticides and chemical fertilizers have direct effect on soil organisms and on us when we consume this infected harvest. Later these pollute the water bodies and aquifers.

Save adds,” Trying to increase Nature’s ‘productivity,’ is the fundamental blunder that highlights the arrogant ignorance of agricultural scientists.  Nature, unspoiled by man, is already most abundant in her yield. When a grain of rice can reproduce a thousand-fold within months, where is the need to increase its productivity! What is required at most is to help ensure the necessary natural conditions for optimal, wholesome yield.”

Eight years ago, Save wrote an open letter plea to M.S. Swaminathan, then chairman of the National Commission on Farmers, highlighting the issue of farmer committing suicide across the nation. His letter presented a devastating critique of the government’s agricultural policies favoring chemical farming and made a plea for fundamental reorientation.

Bhaskar Save’s farm yield is superior to any farm using chemicals. This is true in all aspects of total quantity, nutritional quality, taste, biological diversity, ecological sustainability, water conservation, energy efficiency, and economic profitability. The costs (mainly labor for harvesting) are minimal and external inputs almost zero.

The farm will soon launch an in-house training program at the farm to educate farmers on natural and organic farming practices.

This will change the way we grow our food, the way we enjoy the fruits Mother Nature has to offer in its purest and sweetest form.

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Citizen Journalist ‘Govt must make Housing Affordable’ by Chandrashekar Hariharan

Citizen Journalist ‘Govt must make Housing Affordable’ by Chandrashekar Hariharan

Bengaluru has the dubious distinction of being a city with a very high slum density. We have had this tag for the last 12 years as over four million people live in semipermanent homes in the city.

Over the last five years, things have gone from bad to worse. It is time the government came up with a viable solution. What we need to do is make homes more affordable for people. But how can we do that when the land prices are soaring and nobody wants to make a bad investment?

The solution could be letting private builders own the buildings rather than selling them the land and then allowing them to lease or sell the houses at affordable EMIs or rates that would encourage the real buyers.

Now what the government is doing -the job of the realtor builder without addressing the issue of providing affordable houses. If we had controlled private players instead, we could make houses available for all.

The problem that Bengaluru is facing is not unique. Ahmedabad too has a similar problem, but we can learn from the way it is addressing it. If we are ready to learn and adapt, there are several lessons to take from Japan, Singapore and other countries as well.  But to start with we must be willing to learn.

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