Bangalore, Feb 4: They have built world class institution but are helpless in their own city. Now, they are challenging the political class and the apathy of the middle class while offering to contribute to make Bangalore a better place.
Giving a new meaning to the citizen activism, Infosys chairman emeritus NR Narayana Murthy, Biocon chairman Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, Infosys Ltd's former chief financial officer T.V. Mohandas Pai and other well-known Bangalore citizens have formed a committee with a specific purpose to improve governance in the city.
Bangalore Political Action Committee (BPAC) on Sunday resolved to promote formal inclusion of citizens in the governance of Bangalore by giving financial support to selected candidates contesting municipal and national elections in the city, improving finances of local government bodies and demanding implementation of reforms and policies.
"As Bangaloreans, it is disheartening to see Bangalore's governance structure falling to such low levels coupled with the lack of accountability and indifference towards issues. BPAC is a forum that aims to be a ‘rating agency' on governance that will help to build administrative excellence within government," said Mazumdar Shaw, who is president of the committee. The BPAC will be incorporated as a public charitable trust.
Though, some of the members of BPAC have political affiliations like Ashwin Mahesh, who was the Lok Satta Party candidate for the (Graduate constituency) Bangalore in 2012, Prithvi Reddy, coordinator for India Against Corruption, and R.K. Misra, the founder of Nav Bharat, Majumdar-Shaw stated clearly that BPAC aimed to be an apolitical entity in terms of parties, but political in the way it would work to ensure good governance.
According to her "it is about shaking off apathy." She felt that "we as citizens have not engaged with the political process. For far too long, we, the taxpayers, have allowed politicians to be the entitled class. We have to change the political culture in our city first," she said.
With elections in Karnataka in next few months, two key areas of immediate focus for BPAC will be ensuring wider voter registration and endorsing suitable candidates for elections.
BPAC vice-president Pai spoke about the process of its involvement in the polls. BPAC will screen candidates across political parties and support and endorse those who have an "agenda that is in line with our agenda for Bangalore," Pai said. "The criteria for supporting candidates includes that there are no offences against women by the candidates; there are no criminal or corruption cases against them; they have a good track record of public service; and, they have a chance of winning," Pai said.
About the funding the elections, he said the committee will ask rich Bangaloreans to contribute money to a fund which will be used to financially support the candidates that BPAC chooses to endorse. The expenses of BPAC will be met by its members. "We already have a commitment to meet our running expenses for five years," Pai said.
Other members of the BPAC are sports persons Nisha Millet and Prakash Padukone, brand consultant Harish Bijoor, sports commentator Charu Sharma, former bureaucrat K Jairaj, and danseus Vani Ganapathy.
A gentle Narayana Murthy said BPAC would have to play the role of a "friendly, gentle persuader of existing political parties" to ensure good governance. Rather than create new institutions, the need was to transform the existing ones, he said.
Throwing light on the timing of the launch, Murthy said this was the right moment to draw up an action plan for realising an "aspirational dream" since the country was receiving global attention for the first time in centuries.
"For the first time in the history of India in the last 400 years, India has received the attention of the world. Therefore, this is the right time to wake up and build an aspirational dream and an action plan to make such a dream a reality," he said.
Among the initiatives under the committee's agenda are accountability of civic agencies, integrity and transparency in all arms of the government, developing good infrastructure and strengthening the foundations of urban politics.
To ensure that BPAC agenda is implemented one has to heed to Majumdar-Shaw's advice. "The onus is, I believe, on each and every one of us to take responsibility and become agents of change to bridge the governance deficit through concerted efforts led by a defined set of objectives."