Manoj Rai raised his concern over the Manipulating…

Manoj Rai raised his concern over the Manipulating Municipal Governance? Read below and join in the conversation!

Recently concluded MCD elections in Delhi on 15th April have thrown some interesting questions. Some of the highlights of election processes, beside usual chorus and blame games among different political parties, have been:
(i) Media was regularly raising number of issues ranging from poor development to proxy women candidates.
(ii) Other apolitical actors were also equally engaged to aware common citizens about importance of participation in voting process.
(iii) Polling percentage has increased significantly by 12-16% to record first ever 55-58% polling figure, as the initial estimates suggest.
These results are encouraging. But what worries most is between the lines of comments from State Election Commissioner Mr Rakesh Mehta. He said, “If it wasn’t for the apathy of the upper middle-class areas such as Greater Kailash, Vasant Kunj and Vasant Vihar, the voter percentage would have been even higher.” What does that mean? Does upper middle class damn care for their local governments and service from them?

Though at this stage that it can’t be conclusively claimed that in general upper middle class is apathetic to urban governance. But it cannot be out rightly rejected if we take into account experiences from other cities. So, situation could be somewhere in between. If that is the case then?

We all know that this urban upper middle class is often in the seats power, which make policies and programmes to strengthen (or weaken) urban local governance. So, what (is) would be consequence of their apathy towards municipalities. Who will strengthen capacities of municipalities to deliver development?

If upper middle class avail basic services from private service providers then the question could be who all are stakeholders in municipal services? One may also extrapolate to ask, whether only poor have expectations from public institutions: government schools/hospitals forced to degrade their services and so, reduced to cater poor and marginalized only.

We all know that upper middle class defacto controls these institutions through politico-bureaucratic means. Do then voting is the only opportunity for poor to influence at least one municipal process called election?

With so many questions, what lies in future for municipal governance?


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7 thoughts on “Manoj Rai raised his concern over the Manipulating…

  1. Nidhi April 16, 2012 at 11:08 am Reply

    This is true to large extent, if you read todays paper it quotes a resident from haus khas saying that their need was for better parking. The reality on other hand is that MCD is trying its best to decentralize all service, encourage non-motorized transport (all aspects of sustainable living)and amongst that a upper middle class person concern would always be space for parking.
    I met some social activist the other day, an ngo – which was raising concern over slums in Gurgaon – and mind you it wasn’t a better development for slums, was quite the reverse.
    Ideologies and aspiration of different sects of society have always been different, and in such disparity one needs the acceptance of all to be reinforced.
    Another ironical aspect was that the voter turnout was lowest in vasant vihar, with one of the strongest RWA in the city- with most top notch part of it.

  2. swatisharma985 April 16, 2012 at 11:28 am Reply

    Well the increased voters turn out is a positive sign of initiative taken by the denizens in the city but as goes the records of areas like GK, Vasant Kunj and Vasant Vihar, the services provided by the municipality are anyway considered abysmal. They call a tanker in seconds if there is no water supply, arrange for a sweeper if the trash has not been lifted and so on. Even in yesterday’s experience of voting people from well off families who did turn up were complaining of long lines and were joking asking the Councillor about what will they be getting if they vote in his/her favor. The whole thing is taken in a casual manner knowing that decision of every individual determines the level of services received for the next five years. As for the poor the influence on municipal elections is anyway influenced by the candidates who lure them with short term benefits so i really doubt if their decisions of voting for a candidate are rational and free from bias.

  3. Anshuman Karol April 16, 2012 at 12:10 pm Reply

    This is the reality of India shining and Bharat depriving. As you see that in the major civic body elections held this year, the voter turnout is 45, 51 and 58 % in Mumbai, Pune and Delhi respectively. On the other hand the panchayat elections held recently in J & K, Himachal Pradesh, Jharkhand, Gujarat have seen voter turnout ranging from 70-80 %. What does it depicts?
    Do urban areas or Class I and II city voters are relaying heavily on private service delivery mechanisms? So why to bother about voting? In contrast to these in rural India, do people believe that panchayats are the better source of ensuring service delivery? And these areas are devoid of those private institutions (inability to pay for the services by rural folks)? Or it is easier to bring in poor- illiterate rural folks to the pooling booths as compared to educated urban citizens?
    Indicators may be many but lesson we can draw out of this is one. We only bother about ourselves; we only bother about what we are getting? We hardly concerned about our action towards the better future of others who are deprived of basic services and basic necessities of life.

  4. Dhirendra April 16, 2012 at 12:33 pm Reply

    The upper middle class is in the catch 22 situation, giving a precept while remaining apolitical is really absurd. They seem to be least bothered by the system of municipality through availing private services by only complaining rather amending, whereas the politico dragons tries to maneuvers the poor by let them remain poor in order to have at least one issue for wooing the desperate.

    We can learn from the country like Maxico, where the accountability always seem to remain on high stake. Municipality there works more properly with more tenure to cease the leak. Higher vote percentage is the nice symptom, but upper middle class should also sense their responsibility by not only participating but also through increasing the decibel of ire against the non performing system.

  5. swatisharma985 April 17, 2012 at 4:37 am Reply

    These elections have been the playing ground for the lower middle class or slums, because they have a direct relationship with what the state has to offer,” and rely on public services for basic needs said Sanjay Kaul, the founder of People’s Action. “That’s not the case in an upscale colony because people are more insular”.

    Rajnish Dewan, who is part of the GK-II Resident Welfare Association, said that of the roughly 11,000 registered voters in the neighborhood, only about 3,000 come out for elections, while he thinks neighboring Chirag Delhi has more of a turnout. “You know how villages are,” he said, referring to Chirag Delhi, “those people are very close. And in the posh colonies like GK-II, nobody knows who is staying in the next house.” But he maintained that despite low turnout, GK-II residents have concerns of their own, the foremost being illegal parking and traffic congestion.

    These statements reconfirms our observations on the urban poor and upper middle class in context with municipal elections.

  6. Anshuman Karol April 17, 2012 at 5:02 am Reply

    Referring to basic services like health, education, electricity, water etc. one thing which constantly banging my head is that how would one (the so called high income, mid income class) realise the importance of local bodies (municipalities and panchayats) in ensuring the delivery of these services. Now days, in big cities or even in class II or III category towns, private market is playing a big role and people also have higher proportion of disposable income in their hands. Hence citizens have not any realisation of what they can get or how much they can save if they will get these services through local bodies and to the extent funded by local bodies (by increasing the revenue of these bodies).

    Let’s think of a situation, one day while visiting the private hospital you will find a comparative chart in the reception indicating cost of treatment in this hospital Vs cost of treatment in the hospital run by municipality. One day when you go to the school of your ward you will find a board at the school gate indicating cost of education in this school Vs cost of education in school run by local government. I firmly believe that, how rich you are the first thought came to your mind is that “Am I fool?” The second thought obviously is quality of service in government run hospital and school? So, we must blame the quality of service not the institution. And the real problem lies in the planning, participation and own revenue of these local bodies.

  7. Anshuman Karol April 18, 2012 at 5:51 am Reply

    MCD election results were declared yesterday. The party who lost the elections is giving their own reasons and the party who won the elections has their own reasons. But the main points culled out from the debates, discussions and media reports held around the results highlighted that inflation and corruption are the main factors contributed to the race. I am wondering that the same issues are the deciding factors for the assembly and parliamentary elections (may it also come down to the election of President in the coming days the way politics is moving in this largest democracy).
    As far my understanding the issues in the local body elections should be around what local bodies have been mandated (constitutionally) with and similar should be the case for state and national. And role of media is very important in highlighting this aspect. But our media is also not sensitive to this. This is the high time when we have to decide our priorities and what we should demand from our political leaders (as voters) as well as media (as TRP deciders). We also need to think that how much beneficial is the politicization of our local bodies? Since we have entered into the era of political bargaining which seems not very favourable to the well-being of ordinary citizen?

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