Tag Archives: urban governance


Project implementation in the city

Bangalore today is faced with several issues-ranging from messy sewerage disposal to poorly light roads. In the face of such issues, a civic leader would want to propose and implement solutions by communicating with city governmental officials. In order to implement her project proposals, the civic leader must coordinate with several organizations, stakeholders and contractors-it is a tough row to hoe.

For example, if the citizen wants a park to be developed in her locality, she needs to first map out the universe of organizations and the people who are involved in the park’s development.

The leader would have to specifically approach the different organizations, who would be the owners of various sections of the park. The projects department of BBMP would be the first point of contact for the citizen to seek approval for the development of a park and land allocation, among other operational details.  The Horticulture and Forest departments of BBMP would oversee the planting of the shrubs and trees in the land allocated by BBMP.  The BWSSB would play a pivotal role in ensuring the supply of water via pipes or by sanctioning the drilling of a bore well within the park. The citizen would also have to rope in the BESCOM to keep the walkways in the park well illuminated.

It is important for the citizen to identify the stakeholders of the operation. In the case of the park’s development, the stakeholders would be the owners, the families , the residences, offices and shops in the area surrounding the park, the users of the road-both vehicle commuters and pedestrians, among others. The citizen would do well to spread awareness among the stakeholders to generate public support in favour of the park’s development.

The citizen must also develop a rapport with the officials overseeing the various operations involved in the development of the park. This will allow her to seek out the specific officers and report to them in the event that issues crop up in the setting up of the park.

The contractors and on the ground workers are crucial players in the implementation of the project. Ground realities sometimes might be in stark difference to the plans on paper; awareness of such issues will allow the leader to approach the specific overseeing officers to ease bottlenecks. By keeping regular tabs on their work, she can ensure the completion of the project.

The sequence of work in the project is also crucial to the project’s success. In the development of the park, for example, it is important to sufficiently plan out the location of the trees and the lights so that the trees do not act as obstructions to the lighting in the park.

The civic leader and her team must, therefore, involve all the players of the game-the owners, the stakeholders, the overseeing officers, the action-takers and most importantly, the sequence of actions in the implementation of the project. It is important for the leader to understand that city leadership is a long drawn affair, requiring immense patience and artfulness.

This was covered by Subbiah in the B.CLIP classroom sessions.


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’.

Mukul Asher1

Mukul Asher on Public and Municipal Finance

Takshashila councillor Mukul Asher talks about Bangalore, public finance and urban governance in his interview with DNA. This was on the sidelines of his lectures on public finance, municipal budgeting and a review of BBMP’s budget for students of the B.PAC Civic Leadership Incubation Program (B.CLIP).

Speaking on the role of the programme, he said that B.CLIP can provide economic literacy to future politicians, enable them to ask the right questions and improve policymaking from the ground up.

Q: It’s agreed that Bangalore is in a mess. The most difficult thing to get out of a mess is to find a starting point. What can be a starting point for Bangalore?

A: Out mindset is still that we are largely a rural country. But India is rapidly urbanising. By 2040, the majority of the population will be urban. Yet, we have not given enough focus either on a policy level or in terms of governance structures or resource raising to urban issues. We find that Bangalore is not so unique in the Indian context. It is also not so unique in terms of middle income countries. For example, a city like Jakarta has many similar types of issues. It is not just one thing or one factor or initiative that will bring about a change. There should be a much higher priority for urban issues. And the urban management and urban accountability/transparency need to be aligned. We still have state governments who appoint municipal commissioners. Mayors have very little power. So, the time has come to rethink as to how we create an urban governance structure where there is a sense of responsibility, accountability and transparency. Multiplicity of agencies, the split relationships between states and urban bodies on one hand, and states and the union government on the other, are all leading to fragmentation of responsibility and the way resources are allocated. We now need a more integrated and newer ways of addressing urban problems. This is going to take time, but the debate has to begin. In the meantime, for municipal corporations like the BBBMP here as well as in other cities, there is a need to make them a lot more professional and provide them with the backup support that they need in terms of technologies, financial and budgeting system, so that we can begin to get better urban outcomes.

The full interview can be read here.