Each year, for the past few years the Namma Bengaluru Foundation has been honouring those who serve the city in different ways, by recognising them thorugh its annual awards. I’ve been a jury member all four years, and during this time, I have been fortunate to learn about the work of so many inspiring Bengalureans, and occasionally to be able to work with them too.
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The first year we received a few thousand applications. The second year the number grew to 14,000 and stayed at that level for the third year too. This year, we received 61,000 applications. Clearly the awards are here to stay, and the growing interest in them is an extremely heartening step.
A city is more than the sum of its neighbourhoods, more than the sum of its citizens and government. Any city of ten million residents has a tremendous churn to its daily life. Amidst this hustle and bustle, there is a great deal that happens that makes Bangalore what it is, and thousands of different people have a hand in shaping this.
Many of those who serve the city do so quietly, without any of the recognition that they deserve. They take care of children and the elderly, they create jobs for thousands of people, they are exemplary public officials, they are great innovators for solving problems, and so on. Their energies and achievements make our city what it is, and without ever knowing it we benefit everyday from their work.
Today, thanks to a growing culture of working together to tackle the problems of the city, Namma Bengaluru is poised at the forefront of a great Indian transformation. This is already the city of the future of India, where many things are possible in ways that are not true in other places. Here, civic engagement is higher than anywhere else in the country. Collaboration between bureaucrats and citizens is growing, making progress much less dependent on government. Ideas from the citizens themselves often make it to government policy.
All of this presents a real hope for the future of democracy in India, and it is exciting to be at the heart of it.
On awards day later this weekend, once more the city will say thank you to its finest individuals and institutions. It is the only city in the country to do so each year. The appreciation of the citizens has given these awards a quality like none other. Those who have won the awards in past years say that winning motivated them to do even more. All who were nominated, whether they won or not, have been great inspirations for countless others.