Goodbye 2018, Namaskaara 2019!

As the year draws to a close, I can’t resist recollecting the valiant efforts put in by CfB volunteers this year. Your passion and sustained selfless efforts helped make our city a little better. Our work is hard and results are not easy to come by and yet you stuck around, spending enormous time and energy that you could have used for many other things. I’m sure your friends and family think you are a gone case when you disappear for meetings on a Wednesday or send post cards like a maniac! But they do understand and appreciate what you are doing.

Our biggest success this year has come in the last months – the ward committees. From zero to 68 is no mean achievement and you did it! Ward committees are the systemic change we long for – and will make our city governance transparent and accountable like nothing else can. We saw glimpses of that already. Our job now is to enlist more and more active citizens to get involved locally and let them take it forward. Don’t let the naysayers and armchair critics deter you. Ward committees are silent revolution in urban governance. Period.

#ModaluTrainBeku campaign shocked all of us – pleasantly – to see nearly 1000 people on a working day afternoon at Heelalige raised the demand for suburban train loudly once again after #ChukuBukuBeku. A lot of people are now taking the train and we can say with all humility that our efforts led to many cars left behind. The project is now moving, as we saw encouraging announcements this week but we must keep the pressure on getting few trains immediately sanctioned to ORR using existing infrastructure. The Banaswadi Hosur train has been reintroduced as well.

We often get branded as “anti development” and beda brigade by those that don’t even understand what “development” means and act as if their children can somehow live in a bubble and breathe better quality of air! We can’t win over everyone, especially those stuck in their private car centric visions of the world, but we can reach out to the lakhs that suffer and want to use better options. Most people naturally feel a sense of responsibility towards the city and the planet – they will gladly adapt when public transport is made viable. It is this section of people we need to appeal to and ask them to join the chorus for mass public transport first – before the city gets permanently dug up with ugly concrete that not only kills the very essence of this garden city but also will put our children in harms way. Elevated corridor leads to heat islands and even more vehicles – this is what real experts with real knowledge say; not self serving people advising government using positions of power they don’t deserve. Our goal from day 1 is to help build a sustainable and inclusive city that is liveable for all. During the early part of 2018, we pushed the CfB manifesto “Pattanadi Patti” built by thousands of citizens, to all political parties and tried to change the narrative of elections based on issues that matter.

As I renew my commitment to the city in the new year, I ask you of the same.

Let’s put all our collective energy together and push even harder. We often feel helpless and powerless but our recent successes inspire us to press forward. When we work together as a team without ulterior motives, good things will happen.

CfB always believed in numbers because politicians care about numbers. We are not shy about it. Our core strength is the ability to execute campaigns on the ground. We need more volunteers. We need more people to come to meetings. More coordinators to help organise and mobilize. We need active citizens that participate in ground campaigns and then write blogs to inspire others. We need creative people that can make amazing infographics and videos. We need your help in bringing all this talent together.

Each of us need to stand up and proudly say to our friends “I’m doing something useful for the city and I want you to walk with me” there is no leader, no role model here. It is you.

Wishing you all a happy new year!

**Do share your ideas on how we can make this citizen movement more effective in the new year. **

May we help bury the elevated corridor project in the PDFs in 2019 and may we see a new Bengaluru that breaks free of traffic.

#ಉಳಿಸಿ ಉದ್ಯಾನ ನಗರಿ
#uLisi Udyaana Nagari


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About Srinivas Alavilli 24 Articles
Srinivas Alavilli is a citizen activist based in Bengaluru, working on a variety of issues. He is the co-founder of Citizens for Bengaluru, and is currently Fellow at WRI India.