A deliberate political action group for Bengaluru

It’s a very unusual development in the annals of democracy in India – for the first time, a deliberate political action group, with a specific agenda to be pursued through its activities, is being formed — the Bangalore Political Action Committee

PACs are nothing new around the world. In the US alone, there are thousands of PACs, each committed to its agenda. In India so far, we’ve had industry associations, which are in some ways PACs, but apart from this there aren’t very many. The usual organising themes for PACs – labour, environment, health, education, etc. – have not year coalesced into interest groups of their own, but are folded into party apparatuses. Thus, we have a women’s wing of each party, a labour wing of most parties, etc, rather than genuinely independent issue-focused PACs that engage with all parties.

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Launch of BPAC: Mohandas Pai, Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, N R NArayana Murthy, K Jairaj and Ashwin Mahesh. Pic courtesy: BPAC

There is bound to be some scepticism about whether BPAC will be impactful. But, as I see it, by its very existence BPAC is achieving something – spreading the idea that it is alright (and even necessary) for those who care about something – in this case, our city – to get together and become champions of change to achieve very specific goals, THROUGH POLITICS AND GOVERNANCE.

That last part is the most important thing. There have always been those who wanted change, and worked for it in NGOs and advocacy groups. There are also those who seek this change at the ballot box, by contesting elections. What PACs can do, for the first time in India, is to provide a layer of strength and support to those ongoing efforts. That changes the game.

What can you do to help? Two things. Study the agenda of BPAC and if you agree, become a supporter in some way – find good candidates, join election campaigns, support advocacy, help in voter registration, and much more. Second, on election day, make sure that everyone you know who agrees with the agenda shows up at the ballot booth, and votes for the change you want to see.

At the Bangalore Political Action Committee’s launch yesterday, we (members — Kiran Majumdar, Mohandas Pai, K Jairaj and I) said quite predictable things about BPAC, since we’re speaking from the inside, about what BPAC proposes to do. These details are on the BPAC web site too. What I found more interesting is what NRN said.

He said that leadership in politics should set goals that resonate across the party. To his mind, he said, only two things are needed. We should work to make India’s private sector the most competitive in the world, and make India’s public sector the most fair, transparent, and accountable in the world. If the goals are lofty and clear like that, we can go on measuring ourselves against them, and that will provide motivation for all the things we need to do. And millions of people can understand these goals quite easily.

I felt there was a lot of goodwill for BPAC, even from the media. It’s natural that our invitees should wish us well, but when others are optimistic about what we’re attempting, then that’s a good sign. Many cameramen and reporters came to say ‘good luck, Sir’, and ‘I hope this succeeds, Sir. Bangalore needs more people to participate’. That is the key, as I always say. We must increase the number of people working to solve problems. And the rest will take care of itself.

Ashwin Mahesh
About Ashwin Mahesh 85 Articles
Ashwin Mahesh has been involved in public policy for Bengaluru through his work with the Karnataka government. The views expressed here are his own. He is a member of the Lok Satta party. He is also CEO of Mapunity Information Services, and a director at Oorvani Media, publisher of Citizen Matters and India Together. He is also a visiting faculty with the Centre for Public Policy at IIM Bangalore.

2 Comments

  1. Formation of BPAC is long over due and welcome step.Policy of BPAC should be that all actions of BPAC should uphold that people of India will have an upper hand on politicians and political parties on their actions to promote betterment of people.All the positions of MPs and MLAs should be made sacrificial in nature without any personal gains of wealth so that greedy people will not contest elections.

  2. Dr. Mahesh,
    Firstly, for someone who is advocating transparency and accountability,[…]. Please let the citizens of Bangalore know who funded your MLC Campaign. You yourselves have said that you spent Rs 25 Lakhs […]
    Secondly, India Against Corruption (IAC) owe it the people of Bangalore an explanation of what they did with the funds collected during the Anna Hazare anti-corruption movement. Many have witnessed the collection of cash by Lok Satta members […] anti-corruption activists, collected cash […] IAC, especially, the esteemed member of your B-PAC panel Mr. Prithvi Reddy must be made accountable for the funds collected. So far, people of Bangalore do not know how much was collected […]
    Thirdly, more about your highly regarded B-PAC members – Mr. Mohandas Pai, Mr. Prithvi Reddy and Mr. RK Mishra. […] During the anti-rape protest held as a mark respect for the victim of Delhi gang rape, all of them just showed up minutes before the Times Now camera switched on, made some comments on-camera and left within minutes after the camera was turned off. Is this how B-PAC is going to stand up and fight for the issues of people of Bangalore. It was […] marked disrespect for the victim.
    Finally and more importantly, PAC as a concept in India is fundamentally flawed. Borrowed from the United States, it is not conducive for India. As you are well aware, in the US, PAC’s make a huge difference in primaries and align themselves towards the respective parties in a general election. In India there are no primaries and in a general election, the mainstream political parties do not need your funding.
    I am sure your panel members are very smart people and are well aware of this.
    So it will be wise of you to reveal the […] AGENDA of B-PAC.
    Regards,
    Krishna
    This comment has been edited to conform to our comments policy – Ed

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