I had posted this blog on the Hasiru Usiru Yahoo-group, apart from a few others, which can be construed as campaign material favouring Dr Ashwin Mahesh for the MLC graduate constituency vacancy, election for which is coming up in June.
After one or two rounds of proddings, one member responded positively. This set off an active and interesting debate, with many coming on 'against' and an equal number 'for'. I am reproducing below some of the relevant ones, which I thought provided material for a larger debate.
1. Whats wrong with "wanting to be an MLC"? More of us "good ppl" should participate, not fewer.
2. He's gotten me into a bus :) He's made significant creeping changes through mapunity. He's been involved in the lake rejuvenation next door. But most importantly, he's a guy with the right intention, with his heart in the right place, who wants to jump in and try make a difference. Reason enough, I'd think.
3. You don't get to be involved in political activities without getting involved in political activities.
I liked the question someone raised about the existence and need for a graduates constituency - its a very logical thought - and representation along any such lines - caste/ community/ education should be questioned. On the other hand, assuming it exists for now within the current framework, I'm for more folks like Ashwin participating, than the usual set we've gotten so far.
I am aware of limitations of Ashwin Mahesh as mentioned by some people here - "being elitist" etc....but he has been very supportive of cycling and he does not endorse the Signal Free Concept being implemented by the BBMP with no space for pedestrians and cyclists.
We intend to have a workshop with BBMP and BDA Engineers to make them understand the needs of the pedestrians and also cyclists. Simply intimidating the government or politicians or going to court has not solved any problems.
Let us explore other options and see how we can have some one talk/negotiate for cyclists and pedestrians in the corridors of power.
I want to give it a try and hence supporting Ashwin .
People are free to choose as it is a democratic system. So let the people decide whom to support and whom not to support
Dr.Ashwin Mahesh is for all "GATED" gated communities - - . He will actually drive away the cyclists and buses with his logic. His understanding of education system is also poor. Like some characters in this group, is all for privatisation.
How can he be good? I just dont understand why people like Justice Santhosh Hegde supporting this kind of people?
I was not sure I wanted to post this comment. However, I have done it after editing out the author's usual hyperbole.
Assume for a moment he's all that you say (though it reeks of hyperbole more than reasoned logic).
He's still a guy who's
1. well intentioned
2. willing to participate and try - not just cynically crib from the sidelines as many in the middle class do
Have you tried having a discussion with him on all you disagree with? Of course its absurd to expect that he, you or any one other individual has it all figured out and will get it right to start with. From the tone of your mail, and from my past interaction with him, he seems more open to discussion, and looking for a 'way forward'!
For that alone, I think we should be thankful people like him (I wish there were more - we'd actually see less shrill and more issue based debates) are willing to participate in elections etc.
I too am opposed to signal-free corridors, and had in fact taken up Ashwin on debates on the issue. Like-wise, there are a few other things too that we have our differences over. But, like SS has pointed out, "its absurd to expect that he, you or any one other individual has it all figured out and will get it right to start with". The important thing is that we can engage with him over debates, and expect the majority decision to prevail. And, that's as democratic as it can get.
Ashwin Mahesh might have good intentions, that is not sufficient enough reason to approve someone does it? the issue is something else.
On his FB page today, he speaks of how a group of them wanted to get the K.R.market second floor, which is lying nused to be set up as a electronic media studio. there was a proposal to the BBMP from some ngos working with the homeless to make the 2nd floor into a shelter for the urban homeless(somehting which the supreme court said BBMP has to do - 1 shelte per 1 lakh people). this proposal makes sense also because there a lot of labourers who work oin the market who are homeless and its best if they got a shelter there. however this may not work now because of ash mahesh and his freinds.
the point is, when he thinks something makes sense, he pushes for it so hard without any process of consultation, any democratic process.in this case it is good that he wants to push for the 2nd floor to be used, but he cant make bbmp do something which he thinks is good. why not push for a discussion in the bbmp council on this?
this is not the first time he has done something like this. and its not about him, its about this whole new set of technocrats, him, rk mishra, nandan nilenkani, they like a idea, they think it is good, they push for it.
ashwin mahesh was pushing for a bangalore region governance bill which would make ramnagar, bangalore rural and bangalore urban into one big metropolitan region. and he was trrying to get this bill passed, without any discussions. let alone people knowing it, elected reps from ramnagaram and bangallore rural were not even told about this nor was this discussed with them. CIVIC organised an discussion on this and only then did we get a copy of this bill. this bill was aimed at more people power and decntralization apparently, wonder how come people like him didnt think it fit to release even a public draft of the bill or have any discussions on it. in that CIVIC discssion, elected women reps from these places ticked him off for bringing a bill with such far reaching consequences without even informing the affected regions and discussing it.
this then is the danger of this group - ramesh ramnathan, rk mishra, ashwin mahesh, v ravcihander. look at jnnurm - ramesh ramnathan and janaagraha keep pushing for local governance etc. and then they sit in delhi and decide what kind of development 60 odd cities should have, without checking with the city governments.
look at the plans of ABIDe of which Ashwin was a key member. they came up with a plan and pushed for it. See pg 14, of 2009-10 Budget speech by the BBMP Comissioner. He clearlay states that ABIDE has directed BBMP to develop these roads as signal free corridors over the next 24 months. sure abide or whoever else has rights to make reports and ask govt to consider it, but is it right to force your decision on the government?
this kind of "we know best, we will get the govt. to do what is best for ppl in our view" mindset is dangerous.
The above comments are by Vinay Srinivasa, the Convener of HU, whom I consider genuinely driven by youthful idealism (as compared to many others whom I would label pseudos, without any hesitation). Even as of yesterday morning, when a member made a posting saying that there was an old tree facing the axe, somewhere in Jayanagar, he immediately responded with a post saying that he was headed to the site to intervene, alongwith a request to the others to join in, complain to the tree officer, etc, etc. Fortunately, this turned out to be a false alarm, and by around noon, he made another post narrating all that happened, alongwith pictures of the lovely old tree. Even as I am not quite in agreement with him and his lot over quite a few issues, I can't help but admire their commitment to green causes, and consequently my respect for them. If the city still has a lot of greenery left, it is thanks to the likes of them.
I think he has made a lot of relevant points here, and even though I may not be in agreement with all of them, I thought they called for a larger debate.
All I know is, ABIDe is a advisory body constituted by GoK. How can the push or pull or demand BBMP? Quite strange and tough to believe or understand. Hope, someone will help me understand.
Like I said, the BBMP Commissioner said in his budget speech that he was directed by ABIDe to do this. You can go to the BBMP website, download the budget speech for that year and look at the page number i mentioned to verify. You can ask them how or why they did it :-)
Agree to everything you have said. The point I believe Sameer or anybody else is trying to make is he has good intent though his _knowledge_ / _experience_ in this space may be limited but if he is open to listening to who are what is the harm?
He or the likes push for what they feel is right and I don't see why that can't be corrected - at least with these I personally have some hope. Now as in your example about the possible use of space as shelter - have anybody approached Ash Mahesh about it? If yes has he been adamant about what he thinks is right? If not then it is worth our time discussing this else not.
The question really is whether someone like him can be put to good use to get some work done as he is possibly a person we can reason with compared to the politicians today. I am not sure there will ever be a person _perfect_ for the work that is to be done. A person well qualified and knowledgeable may not contend the elections. If there is such person then let's talk!
Another interesting aspect is how a particular member, who sees himself as a general crusader against the establishment, used some technicality to try and stifle the discussions when he found that there appeared to be more support for Dr Ashwin Mahesh than he had expected. But, the group is a lot more mature today to be taken in by all that, readily.
Coming to the question posed in the caption, the fact that BATF, ABIDe, etc have been seen as coteries, interfering in governance without accountability, even though they were supposed to be only advisory bodies, cannot be wished away. Well, you may then say, that by contesting the election, Dr Ashwin Mahesh is now offering to become accountable.
Further, it is perhaps appreciating the fact that, in a yet to mature democracy, the quality of elected representatives may be found to be wanting, that the founding fathers of the Indian Constitution deliberately provided for the "upper house", where the membership is supposed to be of people of eminence from various fields, generally nominated and not directly elected. Our democracy is still a long way from maturing, and therefore, it may be said that we still need the expertise of the Sam Pitroda's, as also our own lot, even if they are not directly elected. Yes, they need to become accountable, and perhaps this is the beginning of that process.
Also, there needs to be a lot more public consultations, debates, transparency, etc, which is perhaps where "praja.in" comes in as an ideal platform to achieve that goal, something set for us by none other than the redoubtable Mr Manivannan (check this). Towards that objective, my father, let my country awake (modifying slightly a quote by Gurudev Tagore)!