Tag Archives: Apoorva Tadepalli


What can a Councillor do?

by Girisha Shankar
Edited by Apoorva Tadepalli

The Civic Leadership Incubation Program prepares students to undertake civic governance at the local level in their wards. While the BBMP is organised as a gargantuan hierarchy with several roles at play, the elected representatives do have an important role. There is a lot that a councillor can aspire for and also achieve during his tenure at BBMP.

The most basic function of a councillor is to form and chair the ward committee. The ward committee needs to be selected carefully in order to fulfil political compulsions while at the same time allowing for adequate representation for all the citizens of the ward. The other important function of a councillor is to hold ward committee meetings, which also can be useful in coordinating civic agencies like BWSSB, BESCOM, BBMP, etc. Without such coordination, civic issues are not addressed efficiently – the simplest example of that being when roads are cut by one government body soon after another asphalts the road.  Another aspect of these meetings is that they help ensure the public’s participation, and the councillors can get to hear directly from the aggrieved parties instead of waiting for the problems to precipitate into a crisis, like with the garbage crisis of Bangalore in 2012. Most of the problems in ward can have a local solution, if proper coordination can be ensured. The councillor can be instrumental in making this happen.

It is essential that the councillor exercise their right to raise questions in the council meeting pertaining to the general proceedings and also bring up specific issues from the ward, which need attention. A councillor who stays as a mute spectator of the council proceedings without any proactive participation is a liability and it is a failure on his/her part in performing his/her duties.

Another role that a councillor can aspire to take on is to join various standing committees (though, not simultaneously). Unlike the previous roles where they are representing their ward alone, here the focus is wider – encompassing all of the city. Irrespective of whether the councillor happens to be a member of the committee or its chairman, the councillor has to manage dual role of representing their ward as well as taking a larger perspective of BBMP as a whole in dealing with specific business of the committee – be it large infrastructure works, health in the city, public schools and so on.

After a reasonably long stint in the council and having gained adequate experience with the functioning of the BBMP, a councillor can aspire to be a Deputy Mayor or Mayor, the latter of which has to ensure the execution of the council’s resolutions. Both the Mayor and Deputy Mayor have access to funds that can be used at their discretion. Here in lies the ability of councillors in ensuring that the funds are used appropriately – not just in their ward, but also for the city corporation’s entire jurisdiction.

All said, these are but the starting points for the role an ambitious councillor or corporator can play in a city like Bangalore. The true scope of a civic leader’s role, whether they hold elected office or not, is only constrained by their political imagination and drive.

Girisha Shankar is an urban policy analyst with the Takshashila Institution and a student of the B.CLIP pioneer batch. Apoorva Tadepalli is an intern at the Takshashila Institution. This was a part of Girisha’s lecture on a ‘Bottom-up Introduction to the BBMP’.


A Brief History of Bangalore’s Governance

by Girisha Shankar
Edited by Apoorva Tadepalli

Local governance has existed in India since the Vedic days. The Indus Valley civilization had well planned towns and governing bodies that took care of civic infrastructure. Municipalities were established by the East India Company in Calcutta, Bombay and Madras, and were later empowered to enact their own bylaws. Lord Ripon instituted a major reform in 1882 paving the way for representative form of governance in municipalities. This resulted in elected councils in several municipal bodies – including one in Bangalore as described below.

Municipal governance in Bangalore

Bangalore Town and Bangalore Cantonment, analogous to modern wards, had separate committees with several divisions, with two councillors for each division. By 1892, both these municipalities were free from direct British rule and elections were introduced. The Cantonment municipality, unlike Bangalore town municipality, saw communal representation of councilors. This arrangement continued until independence. This period saw Bangalore Town municipality under the administration of eminent personalities such as Arcot Srinivasachar, K P Puttanna Chetty and A S Nagarkar.


In 1949, City of Bangalore Corporation Act merged the two municipal committees in Bangalore and all their constituent divisions were brought under a single corporation. The resultant body was what we now know as Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike, or BMP. At the same time, there was another corporation in operation in Karnataka- Hubli-Dharwad Municipal Council.

The State Government of Karnataka intended to bring these two bodies under the purview of same act. Hence the Karnataka Municipal Corporations Act -1976 (KMC Act) was introduced. This act with its various amendments continues to govern the Bangalore Corporation even today.

One of the major amendments done to the KMC Act was the Karnataka Amending Act 35 of 1994, after which Bangalore Corporation got reconstituted with larger urban area under its jurisdiction, and an election commission was set up for running the elections to local bodies in the state. A finance commission was constituted to review the financial position of Corporation vis-à-vis that of state government. This was the first time that state government endowed power and authority to local urban bodies in general and BMP in particular. This included powers to prepare and implement plans for economic development and ensuring social justice.

The next major change into Corporation came in 2007, when the state government issued a notification to merge the BMP with adjoining 7 city municipal councils (CMC), one town municipal council (TMC) and 111 villages. This resulted in a much bigger area of administration for the Corporation which was rechristened “Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike”, or the BBMP.

Electronic City, one of the city’s fastest growing areas, remains out of BBMP’s jurisdiction; in June 2007, BBMP passed a resolution to bring the Electronic City under its administration. However, Electronic City Industries’ association has stiffly opposed this move. This tug of war is went on till March 2013, when a Karnataka state government order declared the creation of an independent Electronics City Industrial Township Authority or ECLIA.

Girisha Shankar is an urban policy analyst with the Takshashila Institution and a student of the B.CLIP pioneer batch. Apoorva Tadepalli is an intern at the Takshashila Institution.


City, Governance and the Rule of Law

by Apoorva Tadepalli

Classes for the second batch of the B.PAC Civic Leadership Incubation Programme started this past Friday, with Nitin Pai taking an introductory session.

Government is an institution that prevents society from falling to anarchy, which is social and political disorder wherein every individual operates with their own guidelines of behaviour. Cities need government a lot more than villages as the descent into anarchy can be a lot faster. The government (or more technically, the state) enforces a rule of law to prevent violence and chaos, and promote harmony and smooth functioning of all aspects of a society. An egalitarian city is conceived as having all its residents as equal before the law, and so the functioning of a city depends on citizens subjecting themselves to this rule of law. This method of functioning in a society is characteristic of a democracy, and contrasts with the concept of divine right of kingship (characteristic of a monarchy) wherein the lawmaker is above the law.

Image copyright China Digital Times 2012

“Those who defend authority against rebellion must not themselves rebel.” – JRR Tolkien, The Silmarillion.

It can be argued that the rule of law is more important in cities than villages. As villages are relatively small and less populated, they often lack anonymity, thereby making social norms sufficient to prevent anarchy. A person may find it difficult to wrong another person in a village because they are more likely to know each other as well as everyone else in the community, and the collective enforcement from the community can be enough of a deterrent. There are other frameworks with which to establish a rule of law in other communities. For example, large slums often are illegal and slum lords use this as leverage to take protection bribes; in such cases, the mafia establishes a parallel set of rules which govern behaviour.

Note that while both village communities and slum lords can have their own means of enforcing a certain set of rules, they do not guarantee the same amount of liberty. While liberty is a quality of each state and government, all of them have to be strong enough first to prevent anarchy.  In a city, where population and therefore anonymity is high, social norms are not enough to establish common rules for behaviour. The best thing for a city, therefore, is to have an elected government representative of all citizens to establish rule of law in the society. When citizens elect representatives, they form a social contract with the government. With this contract, they exchange some liberties for the protection of others. For example, they exchange their liberty to use violence for the liberty to walk in public safely without being robbed. The social contract with the governing body is more important in a city than a village because in a village, social trust exists with other families. In the anonymous setting of a city, however, a lack of relationship with the rest of the community makes the government is essential to maintain law and order.

This is relevant to aspiring local civic leaders because it is important to recognise that there are many ways in Bangalore in which the rule of law is overlooked or flouted. Enforcing the rule of law is the fundamental duty of the government – providing security, welfare, growth, etc., all stem from this fundamental duty. Therefore, anyone aspiring for public office should pay attention to the rule of law above all else. Governance starts from local leaders at the level of the ward; only when people are responsible citizens of a ward can they be responsible national citizens.

Apoorva Tadepalli is an intern at the Takshashila Institution and a student of development studies and communication.