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Manifesto points

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The Times of India has invited the Civil Society to send points to be raised under their 'Bangalore Asks Candidates' programme. My list would read as below:

Muralidhar Rao

Urban Governance

Implementation of the Kasturi Rangan Committee recommendations in order to empower the citizens in line with the spirit of the 74th amendment.


Police Reforms

Implementation of the Soli Sorabjee Committee report.


Judicial Reforms

Provision of the necessary support to the Judiciary to speed up their work, particularly in lower courts, by modernization.


Adequate Representation for Civil Society members on Regulatory bodies like KSPCB, LDA, BMLTA, KERC, etc.


Government size

With a sizable chunk of the revenues going to meet just the salary burden, the Government size is unsustainable even as of now. With the latest Pay Commission recommendations, it is going to become even more so. And, the fact of the matter is that, with increased computerization and out-sourcing, the size can in fact be reduced to less than a third of what it is at present. This needs to happen immediately.


Water Supply

Urban water bodies have failed miserably in supplying adequate water to citizens, even with the governments having spent over Rs1105 billion on drinking water up to the 10th plan. On account of this, it's largely the poor who land up spending around Rs 6,700 cr annually on treatment of water-borne diseases, in addition to the colossal cost they pay for its availability. It is therefore high time new and credible PPP models for take over of the function by reputed private sector players are set up, after constituting a Regulatory Authority to control the resources.

Power

Facilitation of take over of power distribution in cities by reputed private sector players (atleast two per city) as already envisaged in the reforms agenda, and in the rural areas by co-operatives.

Note: Bangalore today produces goods and provides services of the highest quality to its clientele right across the globe. For such a city, the interruption-ridden service of BESCOM is nowhere near good enough. And, it is not as if better level of service is not possible in the Indian context, or anything like that. Cities such as Mumbai, Ahmedabad, Surat, Kolkata, Greater Noida, enjoy far better quality of power supply. This is evidenced by the fact that, while Bangalore is currently a Rs 1500 cr market for gensets, inverters, converters, batteries, emergency lamps, candles, match-sticks, and what have you, these products have a marginal presence, if at all, in the cities listed. And, now, New Delhi is all set to join them. The reason for the same is also not too far to seek - while Bangalore is served by the government-owned BESCOM, all the other cities are served by companies in the private sector. Need one elaborate further?

The apologists would immediately go on to talk about BESCOM's social responsibility of having to cater to the needs of the rural sector. But, then is it doing any better than its counterparts in the other states in this aspect? The records do not show anything like that, either. In effect, whereas in Karnataka, the people in both the cities as well as in the rural areas have to suffer the incapacity of the government agency, people in cities like Mumbai get the benefit of quality power supplied by private sector companies even as their rural brethren may not be in such a privileged position. Perhaps that is the idea of social justice of Karnataka politicos! But, in today's competitive world, can a city afford this?

Ironically, however, in Karnataka itself, there has existed from long an excellent model for sustainable rural power distribution in the form of the Hukeri Co-op Society in Belgaum district. The Society buys power in bulk at high voltage from the Karnataka Power Transmission Corporation (KPTCL), arranges its distribution, collects money, and remits it to KPTCL on time, thus ensuring quality power supply from them, and, in the process, keeping everyone including the many farmer members totally happy. Where this model may not be feasible, particularly in geographically isolated communities, stand alone solar systems are a far more sensible option, than running kilometers of transmission lines. Very clearly, therefore, the rural sector load has been pooled in by BESCOM only to provide a convenient scapegoat to mask its poor planning and management.

Answer simply is to facilitate the take over of power distribution, particularly in cities by the likes of TATA's, Reliance, GMR, etc, very much as envisaged in the reforms agenda, and in the process reducing a subsidy burden of the extent of Rs 2,000 crores on the state exchequer.


Bus services

Capt Gopinath has given the common man 'wings'. But, unfortunately, he doesn't have the more basic wheels. Physical connectivity, both in cities as well as in the rural areas, is a very serious problem today, which can be solved almost overnight by facilitating the entry of organized, private sector players onto the scene, after addressing artificialities like the Contract Carriages Act, etc. Urgent reforms of Public Bus Transport Services sector, along the above lines, is called for.


Healthcare

It will be more apt to call it 'health-care-less'. Here again, the government has failed totally. The conditions in the government hospitals keep deteriorating from deplorable to pathetic, to even worse, day after day. The only way out is for their operations to be made over totally to any of the many reputed institutions existing in the field, like St John's, St Martha's, St Philomena's, Chinmaya Mission, Mata Amrutanandamayi trust, etc, etc, possibly monitored by a Healthcare services and Education Regulatory Authority, set up replacing the state Health Ministry.


Education Reforms

Whereas India could easily become the knowledge capital of the world if the initiatives by the private sector in this field, particularly Higher Education, are harnessed properly, we are today faced with an unfortunate situation where we are not even in a position to meet our own demands for skilled man-power. The bigger irony is the growing levels of unemployment amongst the so-called 'graduates'. The cause of this tragic mis-match has clearly been identified by the 'Knowledge Commission' as resulting from the stranglehold of the sector by organizations like UGC, AICTE, Medical Council, etc, which has recommended their replacement by a more liberal regime under the overall purview of a Regulatory Authority. This needs to move on a war footing.

Comments

ssheragu's picture

you may send all issues that

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you may send all issues that are being deliberated and only those solutions to problems which have acceptance by the praja community

Srinath Heragu

shobha koppad's picture

Here is a 20 point agenda

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Here is a 20 point agenda what I found in another blog

http://karnatique.blogspot.com/2008/05/dear-next-government-twenty-things-that.html 

murali772's picture

very little has changed

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The state assembly elections are not too far away, and it is perhaps time to start listing out the various issues on which the voters would like to know the views of the parties/ candidates. Well, it didn't take me much of an effort at all, since, as far as I am concerned, the list I had prepared the last time around, has become even more valid now, based on the learnings over the past five years, as also the inaction of the government over the period.

The list and comments thereof can be accessed on the opening post. Herebelow, in addition, I am listing out links to the main discussions, that have already happened on the subjects, on PRAJA.

1) Urban governance reforms - http://praja.in/en/discuss/2008/05/kasturirangan-committee-executive-summary
2) Police reforms - http://praja.in/en/~bangalore/blog/murali772/2008/10/30/police-accountability-authority
3) Judicial reforms - http://praja.in/en/blog/murali772/2012/08/10/time-deeper-judicial-reforms-dr-j-p
4) Civil Society representation - http://praja.in/en/blog/tarlesubba/2008/05/26/expectations-new-govt
5) Government size - http://praja.in/en/blog/murali772/2007/12/29/less-government
6) Water supply - http://praja.in/en/blog/murali772/2012/07/21/can-sheila-dikshit-make-success-water-supply-outsourcing
7) Power supply - http://praja.in/en/blog/murali772/2011/12/24/delhi-power-distribution-privatisation-model-all-cities-follow
8) Bus services - http://praja.in/en/~bangalore/blog/murali772/2009/04/24/petition-cm-end-bmtcksrtc-monopoly
9) Healthcare services - http://praja.in/en/blog/murali772/2011/03/11/govt-hospital-management-heading-ppp-way
10 A) Education reforms - pertaining to schools - http://praja.in/en/~bangalore/blog/murali772/2008/10/05/fund-children-not-schools
10 B) Education reforms - pertaining to colleges - http://praja.in/en/blog/murali772/2008/06/07/private-colleges

On going through the past debates, this comment from my good friend, Yajamanru, I would endorse as amongst the most relevant. Also, I guess there would be fair amount of unanimity of views of PRAJAgalu over the points listed at sl nos 1 to 4. On the others, we can keep debating, and see if we can arrive at a consensus on any of them to put forth as the collective view of PRAJAgalu. If not, each of us can continue to flog his independent view.

Of course, to the above, we now need to add Namma Railu. What else? - I can't readily think of.

The inaction of the government over the last five years can perhaps be blamed on the instability on account of lack of majority for the ruling party. But, that didn't deter them from indulging in every kind of scams - mining, land-grab, NURM (TTMC), to the run-of-the-mill BBMP ones. The important difference, I would like to believe, is that the Civil Society has become a lot more active in the meanwhile, and it is going to be that much more difficult for the corrupt lot to carry on in their old ways in the days to come.

In this, I would also like to believe that PRAJA's role has not been insignificant. So, let's continue demanding changes for the better.

Muralidhar Rao

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