Monday, March 3, 2008

Early Intervention

At a time when their counterparts on college campuses have not even a vague idea of which civic ward they live in or who their local corporator is, this group of six is a refreshing change. They talk about politics and how people’s participation can help the city get better governance. And these 20-somethings who are all still in college have set out to demand accountability from corporators, holding them responsible for the state of affairs in the neighborhood.

Meet members of Yuva Satta, the youth wing of the Lok Satta movement which has initiated the ‘Hisaab Do Abhiyan’, a movement that demands to know exactly how and where the corporator’s funds allotted to each elected representative of the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation. With each of the 227 corporators having spent Rs 35 lakh through the current financial year, it’s a kitty of Rs 80 crore for which they want to see audited results.

Ruben Mascarhenas, co-ordinator of the campaign, explains how the need for transparency fuelled the idea. “We want the corporators to consult citizens of the wards and then initiate projects for the area. It is their responsibility and duty to explain how they spend their funds,” he says. Explaining that today’s youth are as socially conscious as they were in the period just before and just after Independence, the student of information technology says it’s ignorance that causes people to believe that nothing can change the system. “We need to change this by bringing reforms,” he says.

The NGO has printed 227 forms asking each corporator to provide information regarding the fund utilisation. Volunteers will now meet corporators to follow up and get the forms submitted.

Mascarenhas says that there is an image of corporators as ‘mai-baap’, without whose consent and desire work cannot get done. “It is time citizens understand that they are stake-holders in the democracy and demand answers from corporators.”

Software engineer Geeta Ranjan says she had the same view about politicians and the system. “But when we blame them, we are equally to be blamed. Only after one gets actively involved can will be change,” she says.

This is true of 20-year-old mass communications and journalism student Rahul Dubey from Dombivli too. “At first I was unaware who my corporator was. I used to feel there was no need, but later I made the effort of meeting him and getting to know him. I now have his number, I know who to contact in case there are civic problems in my area,’ he says.

While the group’s members feel that criminalisation of politics has turned too many youngsters away from politics, they do advocate active participation. “Like arts and entertainment is part of our everyday life and we all know who Shah Rukh Khan is, we should be equally passionate about politics and our corporators,” says St Xavier’s student Renuka Rao.

These students are also not averse to the idea of joining politics. “We should first try to bring in reforms into the system. But sometimes to change the system, you need to be a part of it,” says the youngest member Jui Gangan, giggling when asked if that’s a dialogue from a film. “No, but isn’t it true?” she asks.

B Tech student Abhinav Dayal cannot help but draw a comparison with the political scenario in the USA. “Like Barack Obama says, change we can believe in.”

Source: http://www.expressindia.com/latest-news/Early-Intervention/279475/

Forget yourself for others, and others will never forget you.

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