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BATF model - love it, or hate it?

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Governance

In the midst of reams of paper devoted to potholes and sticky roads (come rains, and newsmedia remembers road quality issues) I caught two tiny paragraphs devoted to things that may deserve Prajagale's attention. Our state government has created a new BATF (remember it?) like body. The "Agenda for Bengaluru Infrastructure Development" team is headed by an Rajya Sabha MP Mr Rajiv Chandrashekhar (Convener), and other members include:

... minister Katta Subramanya Naidu, Dr Devi Shetty of Narayana Hrudayalaya, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw of Biocon, Ramesh Ramanathan of Janaagraha, traffic expert M N Srihari. Official members include the BBMP commissioner, Bescom MD, BDA commissioner, police commissioner, BWSSB chairman and Namma Metro MD.

No infosys in there, how come!? Wait. GoK doesn't care for Bangalore and Bengaluru alone. There is a similar body setup at state level as well. Its called "Karnataka 2020 task force", and the eminent names in there are:

... Nandan Nilekani ... Capt G R Gopinath, IT honcho M P Kumar, PAC’s Samuel Paul, NIPFP’s M Govindarao, environmentalist Yellappa Reddy, Dr Sudarshan of the Vivekananda Youth Movement, former MP Basavaraj Patil Sedam, MLC Vijay Sankeshwar, Ajay Kumar from Mysore, and directors of IIMB, ISEC and NIAS ...

Hmm, some big names in there as "ex-officio" members of cool sounding task forces. How do you like this model - hand picked eminent citizens picked as partners in (I assume) planning activity. Love it, hate it, or simply don't care?

A warning first. Its nobody's business to discuss the integrity and valor of these VIPs in their chosen fields of excellence. Moderators will do well to keep Praja clean of those types of comments. But as far as these task forces are concerned, its fine to express what may be later termed as arrogant ignorance. If I say something stupid or incorrect about BATF/model because I don't know enough about them, is that my problem? That is the point, isn't it - do we really know:

  • What exactly these task forces are supposed to do? planning? monitoring? or execution as well?
  • How are these measured on effectivity?
  • What is the accountability process here?
  • Any dates or deadlines?
  • What sort representation is assumed here?

I sound critical, but I am sort of torn between the possible verdicts here - love it, hate it, or don't care. Here are the love-hate sides as I reasoned them

  • Love it - Why not!? These folks have excelled as leaders and visionaries in their fields. It'd be nice to get some of that thought-leadership and creativity to help with matters of governance. Government can never hope to get eminent folks like these to participate full time, so why not get whatever pearls of wisdom possible?
  • Hate it - Subversion of democracy!? GoK is better off creating institutions for doing what it expects these handpicked task forces to do. Instead of getting part timers who will play one hole less on the golf course to drop some golden words of wisdom, create a School of Planning if planning is where we think the problem is. Get professionals and experts in the field to run this school and build legacies or students that will live for ever. Remember, institutions last, personalities don't.
  • Don't care - Who said planning was the problem? The issue is execution - plain simple project management, and auditing and monitoring them. Do you think that folks who have come from grass-root levels (politicians) don't have a grasp on problems, and idea about the solutions? Ideas and thinkers are dime a dozen. Hundreds of them right here on Praja, even more in political circles, and thousands around the city - just go pick. Take help from whoever you want, and plan whatever you want, how the hell will all this matter?

So now that I have biased you with some leads in all directions, whats your say? What do you know about BATF and the likes of past or from elsewhere?

Comments

blrsri's picture

BATF bus stops?

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All that I can recollect of BATF and which still stands are the bus stops..with BATF Bangalore Forward logo..Nandan Nelekani was a prominent figure last time..this time the list is different!

..and where is Mr. Kasturirangan? shouldnt he be part of this? 

Can praja do something with Abide? 

tsubba's picture

ABIDe members - full list

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ABIDe Members
President: Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa
Vice-President: H.N. Ananthkumar(MP)
Convenor: Rajiv Chandrashekar(MP)

Members: Katta Subramanya Naidu(MLA & Minister), R. Ashok(MLA, Minister), A. Ravindra(for Chief secretary), Dr. Devi Shetty(Narayana Hrudyalaya), Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw(BIOCON), Ramesh Ramanathan(Janaagraha), MN Srihari(Prof & transportation expert), AnitaReddy(social service), Nagesh Hegde(environmentalist and journalist), and Lakshminarayana of Bosch company will be the ex-officio member.

Source: The Hindu

silkboard's picture

okay, looks like

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okay, looks like nobody wants to go public with their opinion on BATAf/ABIDe model. no issues.

Whats the latest on Kasturirangan Co. recomendations? I see some discussions on CAF group, but nothing in regular newsmedia lately.

silkboard's picture

Live with it

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Some googlegroups are abuzz with criticism of ABIDe and the new Vision Group. I say folks, please live with it.

It may be 'unconstitutional', but so is any form of advocacy, lobbying, or networking. Strictly speaking, there is no legal standing of many Resident Welfare associations - what prevents me from claiming I am the president of Mahadevapura Residents Welfare association? Without local governance reforms, whether its ABIDe, or RWAs, whats the big difference? So, let both of them try and do their things.

Now, a Cheif Minister is within his rights to keep personal advisers for help on matters of governance. I would rather live happily with the fact that the CM has made his list of advisers public, they seem to be educated and imminent personalities. Assuming that each of these advisers have CM's ears on a regular basis, all of us have a dozen more pair of ears to impress and share our suggestions and ideas with.

My conclusion? This model may not be the best or very democratic, but lets all work with it, be watching and tracking it closely and carefuly, and make use of it if we can.

sun_n_moon's picture

Getting a foot in is worth it

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The future of improving cities lies in collaboration between Govt (political / administrative) & Citizens (of all hues). Expecting Govt to deliver won't work - issues of capabilities, commitment, interference, short term focus, etc. Any mechanism (typically task forces) created that allows folks from outside government to get involved is welcome - the resultant osmosis will do some good to both parties. Eminent folks do get nominated often but there are instances when aam aadmi do make it ! Task forces where non govt members focus on getting things done alongside govt agencies likely to be more effective than those giving advice / reports. The biggest role they can play is one of integration across civic agencies to deliver on desired outcomes. What are desired outcomes and who decides priorities - the elected leadership in my view. So getting a foot in is worth it. But if foot in mouth, expect trouble ! There is no substitute for eternal vigilance.
murali772's picture

relevant role

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Sun_n_moon avare'

I had in fact tried to impress upon the BATF the need to usher in competition for BMTC, which even today I would like to maintain is the best and fastest way to get them to perform. Nandan Nilekani had summarily brushed aside the suggestion saying they do not have the mandate to interfere in policy matters. Though I was disappointed, and expressed it also, I could see that he was very correct in his stand.

(Subsequently, of course, I took up the matter with Sri S M Krishna directly, and that resulted in liberalisation of the monopoly regime atleast in cities other than Bangalore).

As such, I can't see how BATF can be criticised as having played any extra-constitutional role, as many of the status-quoists have indeed been doing. They were only providing technical support to the stake-holders in helping implement programmes drawn up by the stakeholders themselves. The half-yearly public presentations were also made by the officials of the stake-holder agencies.  Well, BATF members may have influenced the programmes. But, the decision was of the stake-holder, and its official presented it to the public.

The role of the stake-holder, in the form of the parastatal agency, is itself the subject of another debate - check:

http://bangalore.praja.in/events/para-statal-agencies-and-task-forces-karnataka

My whine against the BATF remains that it didn't do enough to check the automobile centric growth of Bangalore. On the contrary, it may have been partly instrumental in propagating it.   

Muralidhar Rao

Muralidhar Rao

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