Very often, complicated social problems are left to activists and NGOs to battle governments for resolution. But our politics being where it is, these issues never get settled with the clarity and force that they merit, and in turn they come back to bite us at the local level.
This week’s lead story on the Hijra problem at JP Nagar is a clear case of such a felt-and-seen local ‘irritant’. Shopkeepers are tired of shelling out money to groups of Bengaluru’s Hijras day after day. Commuters at intersections have their own encounters to report. However, the Hijras are themselves ostracised in our society (read: no jobs), and what’s worse, have met with police brutality.
Read Vaishnavi Vittal’s story on page 6 to learn about the many sides to this reality.
Moving on, we recently reported on a new ABIDe-proposed legislation to bring governance reform to Bengaluru, one that promises more transparency and accountability according to its drafters. Citizen Matters met Karnataka LokAyukta’s Justice Santosh Hegde and asked him whether this law was really going to help him prosecute corrupt municipal officials, most of whom have never been held accountable. Members of ABIDe, and equally, the Chief Minister must listen to his detailed response, laid out with clarity and depth. He also pointed out which legislation needed to be amended. Look out for the detailed interview in Citizen Matters soon.
In the meantime, things are settling down after brouhaha over the Congress-led UPA’s sharp victory at the national elections. In Karnataka the state-level cross-wind prevailed in the elections, and Bangalore’s three urban constituencies voted BJP MPs to Parliament. Ananth Kumar (Bengaluru South), Chandre Gowda (North) and P C Mohan (Central) are all seasoned politicians. Chandre Gowda has even switched from the Congress to the BJP. Mohan is also a businessman with a retail background.
These MPs will no doubt be aware of the series of attacks on women earlier this year, including several in Bangalore. In response, a large number of Bangaloreans got together and signalled that enough was enough. As our MPs get into office this time, they have a choice between indifference and leadership. When the next rowdy group shows up on our streets to assault women, they must step forward and be seen and heard to be speaking out against narrowmindedness and divisiveness in Bengaluru.