BBMP Polls a Rare Opportunity for Bengaluru and Bangalore
Why the Bangalore municipal polls are critically important, by Kiran Mazumdar Shaw.
Bengaluru was once a little-known Indian city, but today it’s recognised by the world for its IT excellence. The upcoming Bruhat Bengaluru Mahanagara Palike (BBMP) elections provide an excellent opportunity to transform Bengaluru into one of the best-governed smart cities in the country and a model for others to emulate.
The goal should be to find new solutions for old challenges and come up with creative ideas for delivering a good quality of life in a sustainable and enduring manner.
This is of crucial importance as the city’s population is projected to exceed 16 million by 2020 from 10 million today.
It is in this context that the role of a strong, local elected body like the BBMP assumes crucial importance. Municipal authorities with long-term vision can help create suitable governance systems and infrastructure to ensure a good quality of life for every resident of this fast-expanding metropolis.
Fortunately, the Supreme Court’s latest order has brought certainty to the timeline for the BBMP elections after legal to’s and fro’s in the past few months.
All political parties have accepted the Supreme Court order extending the deadline for the completion of BBMP polls to August 28, 2015.
This will give both the State Election Commission as well as political parties more time to prepare for the ballot.
I am confident that these elections will help address the present shortcomings in the functioning of the BBMP in terms of poor planning, lack of transparency, corruption, low accountability and dearth of finances to execute key projects.
Creating Civic Leadership
By 2030, India’s cities are expected to accommodate nearly 600 million citizens, generate 70% of the new jobs created and produce more than 70% of the country’s GDP, according to McKinsey. Such a rapid pace of urbanisation will require our municipal bodies to be well-equipped to tackle this governance and infrastructure challenge.
To ensure that Bengaluru becomes one of the preferred and most liveable cities of the future, the Bengaluru Political Action Committee (B.PAC) has been working tirelessly towards that direction over the past couple of years.
This apolitical organisation, which I am proud to be associated with, has been engaging with the government, political leadership and civic bodies for laying the foundation of a world-class city in the years to come.
To create a pool of good civic leaders, we had launched the B.PAC Civic Leadership Incubator Program (B.CLIP) in December 2013. B.CLIP aims to develop civic leadership who will actively engage in ward-level management and administration of Bengaluru to improve its governance. Over 100 individuals have already been trained. After undergoing three months of intensive classroom sessions, these B.CLIP participants are making an impact on the ground through specific projects related to water supply, sanitation, solid waste management, public safety etc. in their localities.
I am looking forward to some of the B.CLIP participants being chosen as political candidates for the forthcoming BBMP polls.
Rare Opportunity Beckons
Bengaluru has earned the status of India’s ‘IT & BT hub’ as well as the ‘Start-Up Capital,’ however the city’s crumbling infrastructure has not been able to sustain the massive development and industrial growth witnessed in the past decade.
To remedy the situation and transform Bengaluru into a world-class smart city, all stakeholders need to work together towards the common goal of addressing the challenges in the areas of infrastructure, social and civic set-ups.
I believe the upcoming BBMP elections will be a first step towards that end.
(Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw is Chairperson and Managing Director of Biocon Limited. Her pioneering efforts in biotechnology have drawn global recognition. She has been named among TIME magazine’s 100 most influential people in the world.)
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