As we begin the New Year with our 25th issue, it’s time to celebrate as well as reflect. The journey thus far has been enjoyable and rewarding. We have received praise from Bangaloreans, as well as those elsewhere. With recognition by Mint Business newspaper in 2008 and BBC in 2009, we have been accepted by citizens as well as other media as a credible source of pathbreaking local journalism.
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Nevertheless challenges remain. As we endeavour to inform, interest, and involve, we too encounter apathy and stonewalling. Unhelpful government officials, unprofessional ministers and MLAs and even unethical community groups are part of a day’s work.
A few weeks back, it was my pleasure to attend the monthly meeting of Manjari Ladies Association based in JP Nagar, as their special guest. The members were gracious and hospitable. Many of them shared their stories about careless neighbours dumping garbage and callous officials not heeding complaints. I could relate to their frustration.
Apathy can be overcome by enthusiasm, and enthusiasm can only be aroused by two things: first, an ideal, with takes the imagination by storm, and second, a definite intelligible plan for carrying that ideal into practice. – Arnold Toynbee
Enthusiasm is slowly increasing. Earlier it was just a few conscientious citizens like Col Seshadri and T K Jagannathan who question the civic authorities when they failed in their duty and NGOs fighting individual battles; now professionals and the young are involved in civic affairs too.
The children of Renaissance Regalia, a Malleswaram apartment are on the right path, initiating waste management programme in their flat complex; the youth group, Indian Youth for Climate Network (IYCN) have launched a community plastic waste reduction and recycling programme in HSR Layout. They are enrolling local shops, to help reduce plastic carry bags.
In Bangalore East, a group of Krishnarajapuram residents took it upon themselves to clean-up the voter list of one polling both, ahead of the Lok Sabha elections. With the help of Election Commission officials, they managed to make an almost error-free voter list.
The green brigade, including groups like Hasiru Usiru, keep a watchful eye on how government actions impacts the city environment. Virtual and real-life communities like Praja, and Ride a Cycle Foundation contribute to public discourse and lobbying for pro-citizen policies.
These are the ones who show that Bangaloreans will not ‘go quietly into the night’. That we will not accept a slide into an urban devastation.
Highlighting their work has inspired many others in the city to follow their lead. From rainwater harvesting, solid waste management to volunteering with children, our stories have helped Bangaloreans take the first step towards being active citizens.
May their tribe increase! ⊕