Category Archives: Governance

URJA Editorial-यथा प्रजा, तथा राजा।

इस संस्करण में; आज की परिस्थिति में सार्वजनिक प्रशासन और स्थानीय राजनीती पर  सामाजिक व्यवहार का असर।

यह लेख हमारे समाज की एक बीमारी; विचारहीन तरफदारी, पर रौशनी डालेगा जो दिल्ली की बिगड़ी हुई शासन व्यवस्था का बहुत बड़ा कारण है.

बिना सोचे समझे, बुद्धि के प्रयोग के बिना कोई पक्ष ले लेना एक आदत सी  बन गयी है. सोशल मीडिया के आने से यह मनोवृत्ति और भी बढ़ती जा रही है. किसी भी मुद्दे को विचाराधीन करने से पहले ही बेबाक हो बयान दे देना या फिर पड़ोस में होने वाली हर अहम् बहस पर भाई-भतीजावाद करने लगना, नागरिकों के लिए अपने ही नुक्सान का कारण बनता जा रहा है. दुःख की बात तो यह भी है की हम इस बात पर ध्यान ही  नहीं दे रहे हैं की किस कदर यह सामाजिक परिस्थिति हमारा बेडा ग़र्क़ कर रही है

जब भी कूड़ा करकट, वायु प्रदूषण, गन्दगी, टूटी सड़क, जाम हुई नालियां या फिर सार्वजनिक भूमि पर अवैध अतिक्रमण की बात सामने आती है तो उसके पीछे बहुत हद तक इस प्रवृति का हाथ होता है

गौर फरमाइए, आपके इलाके में अगर नाली बंद हो जाये तो क्या सब निवासी एक ही आवाज़ में बोलेंगे? या फिर अगर सड़क टूटी हो तो क्या सब एक साथ होकर अपने पार्षद, विधायक और संसद के पास शिकायत ले कर जायेंगे ? हरगिज़ नहीं। साधारण से साधारण नागरिक भी, बिला वजह पार्टीवाद का हिस्सा बन जायेगा. अगर ऐसा नहीं होता तो आपके इलाके की सड़कें, नालिया, और ढलाव साफ़ होते , और सरकारी ज़मीन पर अवैध कब्ज़ा होते ही रोक दिया जाता।

हम अक्सर अपनी विफ़लता को राजनीती बोल, नेता के सर पर मढ़ देते हैं लेकिन ध्यान दीजिये, ये बीमारी तो हमने खुद पाली है , नेता का क्या दोष?

एक उद्धरण के माध्यम से इस मुसीबत पर प्रकाश डालता हूँ

अभी कुछ ही समय पहले दिल्ली के एक क्षेत्र में शराब की दुकान को लेकर कुछ ऐसा ही  हुआ. शुरुआत में ऐसा प्रस्ताव की शराब की दूकान रिहाइशी इलाके में खुलेगी, को लेकर वहां के लोगों ने विरोध करना शुरू किया. लोग सड़क पर उतर आये और जम  कर रोष प्रकट करते हुए बोले की वह अपने पड़ोस में शराब का ठेका नहीं खुलने देंगे

फिर क्या था, क्षेत्र के विपक्ष के नेता और निर्वाचित प्रतिनिधि भी मैदान  में उतर आये. बस यहां से खेल खराब होना शुरू हुआ और समाज की कमज़ोरी बाहर आ गयी. जहां नेताओं ने क्षेत्र के निवासियों पर एक छोड़ दूसरी या तीसरी पार्टी के मेंबर या अनुगामी होने का इलज़ाम लगाना शुरू किया , वहीँ लोगों में  ‘तरफदारी की बीमारी’ उत्पन्न हो गयी. कुछ लोग दुबक गए, कुछ अलग -अलग नेताओं के सामने बोलने में आनाकानी करने लगे, और कुछ चुप-चाप समझाने में लग गए की शराब की दूकान पास ही में हो, तो क्या बुरा है? विरोध अलग थलग हो गया.

सच तो यह है की वोट आप किसे भी दें, शराब आपके परिवार और बच्चों पर विपरीत असर डालेगी । शराब शरीर में घुस कर तरफदारी तो नहीं करेगी की फलां पार्टी के वोटर को कम चढ़ेगी और फलां पार्टी के वोटर को ज़्यादा। या फिर दुकानदार आपके बच्चे से ये तो नहीं पूंछेगा के ‘बेटा तुम्हारे पिता ने किसको वोट दिया क्योंकि उसके हिसाब से में तुम्हें शराब बेचूंगा या फिर नहीं बेचूंगा।’ जब शराब तरफदारी नहीं करेगी और शराब बेचने वाला नहीं करेगा तो लोग क्यों करने लग गए? क्यों इधर उधर भटक कर एक या फिर दूसरी साइड लेने लगे

ऐसा ही कुछ ट्रैफिक प्लानिंग में दक्षिण दिल्ली की एक अति धनवान कॉलोनी में भी हुआ. अब सब लोग ट्रैफिक में उलझे हैं लेकिन बिना सोचे समझे, ज़िद में, बिना दिमाग लगाए, राजनितिक साइड लेते हुए घर फूँक तमाशा देख रहे हैं

URJA में हम अक्सर देखते हैं की पुब्लिक और RWA अकसर इस तरह साइड लेने लगते हैं की टूटी सड़क, कूड़ा इत्यादि पर किसी भी तरह का कड़ा रुख अपनाया ही नहीं जा सकता। अफसर भी कुछ यूं सोचते हैं “की लड़ने दो इन लोगों को! और हम फ़ालतू में क्यों चक्कर में पड़ें?”

दिल्ली की बैड गवर्नेंस का यही एक बहुत बड़ा कारण है.

समझदारी तो इसमें है की कुछ ऐसे मुद्दे हैं, जैसे टूटी सड़कें, बर्बाद फुटपाथ, कूड़े के ढेर, सरकारी ज़मीन पर कब्ज़ा, सिक्योरिटी, बह निकलते हुए हुए सीवर, जिस पर हम, चाहे किसी भी पक्ष को वोट देते हों, उस के नेता से साफ़ साफ़ कह दें, की भाई यह नहीं चलेगा। हम किसी भी पार्टी से सरोकार रखते हों लेकिन दो टूक शब्दों में साफ़ साफ़ नेता से कह देना चाहिए कि ‘वोट की बात रही एक तरफ, लेकिन टूटी सड़क, गन्दगी, मच्छर काटने से बीमारी बर्दाश्त नहीं की जाएगी।

जनता से अनुरोध है की, समझदारी इसी में है की बिना सोचे समझे, बिना बुद्धि का प्रयोग करे, तरफदारी बंद कीजिये

आपके इलाके में वैसा शासन है, जैसा आप में से अधिकतम लोग चाहते हैं. जैसी करनी वैसी भरनी; हमारे पूर्वज व्यर्थ ही नहीं कह रहे थे।

आशुतोष दीक्षित

CEO

 

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URJA Editorial-Some Governance Basics

Every time the matter of garbage and bad governance comes up in our meetings, there is often the common comment that the

  • ‘Citizens are to blame also’ or that
  • ‘We have no ‘civic sense’,
  • ‘We must not ask of the Government but must also do it ourselves’

On the face of it statements such as these sound reasonable and create a sense of temporary guilt and shame in the mind of the citizen and taxpayer. This type of discussion in public meetings usually ends the discussion with people simply feeling helpless as if they are no good.

Over the years this thinking has been reinforced by the State Administration and the officers as it suits them to shift the moral blame on residents for their own administrative incompetence and corruption.

Recently in a posh area of south Delhi, no less than the Commissioner of SDMC, an I.A. S officer, made a ‘surprise visit’. A day before this ‘Surprise’ visit many encroachments were temporarily removed. During the course of his visit the Commissioner noted, that residents had thrown kabaad in their back lanes and covered their drains leaving them difficult to clean. The Commissioner pointed out that residents were responsible for the problem and should introspect, & the suitably embarrassed the RWA wrote a note chastising the members that they must themselves ‘introspect’ on this

The situation remains the same. The encroachments are back, the back lanes remain dirty

On similar complaints, the Municipal councillor landed up with a whole team, touting ‘swachh bharatabhiyan as motivator, joined by party colleagues and cleaning staff. The whole lot including the Councillor started sweeping.  Many Residents were all excited and started clapping. This was a major photo opportunity; the photo etc. was shared in whatsapp groups. At the end of all this tomfoolery, things remain the same

This is an example of how misled we are and how much it suits the officers and the politicians to perpetuate this thinking. It also shows that a combination of ignorance and laziness can keep even educated residents trapped in the same place.

This is important to understand, that ordinarily most people are law abiding but as a corrupt and lazy administration allows a few people to get away, more and more people take to breaking the law.

Please do not believe that residents in other countries are better human beings, but please believe that other countries punish law breakers and there Civic responsibility becomes reward able

Let us have a look by way of a table of what is happening and how we are misled into believing that are bad citizens, when in reality our officers a lazy and inefficient.

The distinction marked below can be applied to almost all areas of public administration

 

Wrong Way- Delhi will remain a Filthy city Right Way- Delhi will be a world Class city
SDMC Commissioner lecturing that Drains should not be covered The Commissioner ordering  immediate demolition/or penalties as per law and ordered an inquiry upon his officers for letting this happen
This not lack of Civic Sense This is illegal
SDMC Commissioner lecturing  that Kabaad should not be thrown in the back lanes

This not about lack of Civic Sense

 

The Commissioner ordering fines and penalizing the builders as well as residents for violating the law and relevant provisions of the DMC  act

This is about punishment for illegal activity

The Municipal councillor, no matter how excitable and sycophantic he is, is not meant to begin municipal work himself

 

The job of the councillor is to take civic problems to the corporation and get the Departments to act. He is not a Govt officer (even if he likes to think so) and does not have to perform Municipal roles designated for Municipal officers or staff
Councillor Sweeping back lanes are an aberration & example of very bad Governance should not be applauded by the public and there is nothing good about this activity to be shared on whatsapp. This public behaviour is harming the public

 

Public should have criticized him for failing to get the Government to work and not take the Voter for a ride by doing childish stunts. The public should have demanded that he ensure MCD action. This behaviour helps the public
This pattern of behaviour will result in remaining in garbage and filth, broken roads and encroachment. This is how our ‘Administration’ and misguided residents behaves and we remain a backward city

 

This is how Administration in USA, UK, France Tokyo, and Hong Kong would have behaved and that is why they are advanced Cities. This is how their officers behave and their residents demand for being taxpayers.
Officers will be paid for sitting in office and making money out of corruption &Indian taxpayer will be fooled continuously & will be blamed for not having civic sense. This wrong attitude shown above will ensure that Delhi will be a filthy city Delhi will be a clean city, The Tax payer would be rewarded and provided with services, the officers will have to work for their salary, & corruption will come down. Delhi will be a world class city

 

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Centrists must demand an amendment in the constitution

In the life of a nation, an idea must only be tested over a finite period of time; if the stated objectives are not met within this fixed time frame, then the idea must be modified and put to test again.

Strategic thinking requires making the necessary changes in our laws, in accordance with the needs of a changing society. That is the intelligent way to growth. Slavish adherence to one view, no matter how authoritative the source, is no different from religious mania.

In the year 1934, when our country was in the throes of the fight for independence, and our leaders strived towards making a new India, the idea of a constituent assemble for undivided India was proposed by the great humanist M.N Roy. Soon it became an official demand of the Indian National Congress and was accepted by the British on 8th august 1940.

Since independence, and the meeting of the constituent assembly of a divided India on 14th August 1947, several laws have been introduced time and again by the Indian parliament, and on several occasions the Judiciary has intervened to put an end to discriminatory laws. Similarly in laws relating to divorce and succession, the laws of the Hindus have been changed (and rightly so) as well as accepted by progressive sections of this society.

The Christian marriage act too was amended by the parliament in keeping with changing times and to end discriminatory practices, but when it comes to the sharia laws, any attempt to introduce a uniform civil code is perceived by the Muslim community as imposed majoritarianism.

The most politically significant Minority in India are the Muslims. Minorities like the Sikh and Christians are less in number & of lesser electoral significance to ideological factions that can exploit them and therefore: when it comes to Islam, the situation becomes completely different in such a manner, that in terms of a ‘minority’ the status of Muslims assumes a different significance altogether.

India has the 2nd largest Muslim population in the world (about 200 Million) which is a number sufficiently large to not be a minority in any real sense. With the visible and weaponised rise of Global political Islam, the social strife and conflict in European societies from massive Muslim migration, and in India, Jihadi politics and cross border association with terrorism in Kashmir, it is naïve to assume that the common man will buy into the complex arguments that are required to keep such ‘secular’ policies in place.

But what makes Muslims unable to keep pace with contemporary social change in India, despite being an inseparable part of the country’s history as well as being deeply embedded in some way in all things Indian?

In my view it is the Indian Constitution.

With the 42nd amendment of the constitution in 1976, the word “Secular”, too was added to the preamble of The Indian constitution. Let us now look at our modes of secularism.

This unusual, model of secularism, demands regressive social practices of the majority Hindus to be dismantled but protects and promotes regressive social practices of the minorities. It is a strange model arrived through negotiations between secular ‘Hindu’ thinkers and ‘Minority’ thinkers in the constituent assembly.

It is a model where Hindu temples can be controlled by the Government and their proceeds used for Secular purposes while minority institutions have no such obligations. It is a model of Secularism where religious institutions, schools and colleges run by the Minority community have privileges which are denied to the Majority religious community.

This concept of special privileges induces several other communities into asking for a minority status, the Jains being the last granted and Lingayats now demanding.

Rationally, a democracy cannot be conducted on the whims of a majority but logically it cannot also be conducted through ignoring the feelings of a majority. Equally it should not be conducted on the whims of a minority.

There may have been sound reasons, psychological, personal & political then, for the representatives in the constituent assembly, to have taken the positions they did and many of those decisions would have been prompted by the politics of those times.

The founding fathers of India, decided upon a model of secularism that was hitherto unknown to any great secular democracy of the world. I do not know of other great founding fathers that practiced loquacity, intellectual grandeur and pomposity with such ferocity.

Except in India, everywhere secularism (in secular countries), has meant equal rights and that personal laws, wherever they conflict with individual civil rights, be in line with the Country’s civil law.

Even though article 44 says, ‘The state shall endeavour to secure for the citizens a uniform civil code throughout the territory of India.’ In practice the other articles in the constitution make this a hollow proposition.

The recent Judgment of the Supreme Court on the matter of Instant triple Talaq only goes to show that in 2017 – 70 years after independence, in the largest Democracy of the world, the ancient right given to a man to unilaterally divorce his wife still remains. Instant Triple Talaq has been declared unconstitutional (by a margin of 3-2) but the unilateral right of a man to divorce his wife at will over a period of 3 months remains as a legally acceptable way of divorce.

The Indian Constitutional provisions that make it well nigh impossible for the parliament or the Judiciary to alter laws that were crafted for the Arab Society hundreds maybe a thousand years ago.

Dr. Ambedkar had pointed to this problem of capitulating in the face of Islamic pressure. His exact words to the constituent assembly were: “I personally do not understand why religion should be given this vast, expansive jurisdiction so as to cover the whole of life and to prevent the legislature from encroaching upon that field. After all, what are we having this liberty for?”

We are having this liberty in order to reform our social system, which is so full of inequities, so full of inequalities, discriminations and other things, which conflict with our fundamental rights.”

But the pressure was high from the Muslim members in the Constituent Assembly. Addressing the constituent assembly Maulana Hasrat Mohani had said: “I would like to say that any party, political or communal, has no right to interfere in the personal law of any group. More particularly I say this regarding Muslims. There are three fundamentals in their personal law, namely, religion, language, and culture which have not been ordained by human agency. Their personal law regarding divorce, marriage and inheritance has been derived from the Quran and its interpretation is recorded therein. If there is any one, who thinks that he can interfere in the personal law of the Muslims, then I would say to him that the result will be very harmful. Musalmans will never submit to any interference in their personal law and they will have to face an iron wall of Muslim determination to oppose them in every way.”

Dr. Ambedkar had in the same assembly, expressed his views thus:  “Coming to the question of saving personal law . . . if such a saving clause was introduced into the Constitution, it would disable the legislatures in India from enacting any social measure whatsoever. The religious conceptions in this country are so vast that they cover every aspect of life, from birth to death. There is nothing which is not religion and if personal law is to be saved, I am sure about it that in social matters we will come to a standstill. I do not think it is possible to accept a position of that sort.”

On the one hand it can be said that its nobody’s business what the minorities do with their personal laws, but when a very large population of a country remains steeped in archaic laws it affects the entire country, and the Left liberal aristocracy along with some political parties prefer to keep the Muslims backward – as an army – that they can use to apply political pressure for their own advancement.

The intelligentsia should have been in the forefront of an honest debate –  take for example the charge that that UCC will necessarily be a Majoritarian imposition – this is not only flawed but deliberately misleading – but the overweening, faux liberal intelligentsia along with Marxists has created a version of thinking, seemingly rational & high minded thought that even those who see through its corruption and politics are tricked into unwittingly examining everything through a prism that will eventually lead them to believe that the left liberal narrative alone is righteous, fair, secular & equitable and the rest is fascist, communal and regressive. This is because of the all pervasive leftist siege on institutions.

Let’s talk of some Hindu laws – the law relating to divorce in Hindus for instance – is not a Hindu concept. There was no concept of divorce in Hinduism. It is a civil law import into the Hindu marriage act which has been accepted as it should have been. Similarly Hindu laws related to succession were found discriminatory and struck down by courts. This too has found acceptance, and rightly so. That this has changed everything socially on the ground and in Hindu communities is certainly not the case. But the law does allow the aggrieved to have their rights restored. More needs to be done and the provisions in the Constitution allow the parliament and the Courts to do that.

All this talk of change in personal laws of Muslims as ‘majoritarianism,’ holds no water.

In Islam, Talaq is practiced as a unilateral right that is only a man’s. Any argument to the contrary, quoting the provisions of ‘Khula,’ is certainly disputable. In Khula (release) a woman does not have any unilateral right. The wife can seek dissolution, after seeking permission from her husband, which he can refuse. Khula also requires her to return the Mahr as well.

Khula being touted by left liberals as quid pro quo and equal empowerment for women in Muslim Personal law is misleading the public at large and is a disservice to Muslim women in particular.

The constitution of India cannot become secular by the mere insertion of that word in its preamble.

This is an issue of humanity and fairness that is being blocked because of the mistakes made 70 years back by the constituent assembly. It is a Constitutional Anomaly that must be righted.

In 1931, 90% of India was illiterate. It has today a high youth literacy rate. The population is chiefly under the age of 35, Votes in high percentages, and has access to information. It won’t buy into what appears shady to it.

Because of political exigencies, and the slothful nature of our systems, it is a difficult model to change fast enough, but change it must, to achieve equity; social and economic growth & liberty for at least those Muslim men & women who choose to live a secular life and for India to be free from this model that creates a false sense of entitlement and simmering resentment at the same time for both Hindus and Muslims.

Centrists must take this opportunity to wrest the motivated narratives of the extreme fringe of the right as well left and be truly liberal. The historic mistakes made regarding the positioning of Indian Secularism must be changed and the constitution amended suitably.

 

 

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URJA Editorial- July 2017

The Megalopolises of New York, London, Tokyo, Hong Kong, and others manage huge amounts of solid waste daily and effectively. In some cases the waste generation in these cities is much more than in Delhi.

Delhi fails in effective handling and disposal of all aspects of waste management. It fails in municipal solid waste management; it fails in C&D waste as well as electronic waste management.
A permanently staffed and educated state administration shows its lack of will & motivation to manage waste effectively, time and again

How it is, that Delhi is unable to manage its waste? Why such incapability in Delhi? How is it that other big cities of the world with high population density, multiple ethnicities, democratic discord, and large number of cars, people and limited boundaries have managed while Delhi administration is floundering?

Being totally unaccountable to the public the officialdom, safe & secure in their permanent jobs tends to ignore the task of daily administration. The attention in the media too is focused persistently on the odd statement of the elected representatives and the state functionary in the Government departments almost always gets away with impunity.

For years the citizens of Delhi were bombarded by that Government programme called ‘awareness campaigns’. From the safe environs of their offices the state administration ran programmes reminding people how littering and throwing garbage in public was bad. Even more programmes were run on lecturing about waste segregation. These programmes have had limited success and have passed their ‘use by’ date
‘Finding Sustainable Solutions’ is now the new mantra to keep the citizen guessing while filth collects around the Dhalaos and by lanes. After years of sustainable solutions being put out by various expert groups within and outside the government, after well known solutions that work everywhere have been proposed in India, and have been successfully implemented elsewhere, the State administration continues to rely on the excuse of looking for solutions to delay action on the ground.

This deliberate laziness, escapism and negligence on part of the Administration must be called out, pointed out and penalized. It is a pity that our judicial system has failed in providing compensation to the suffering tax payer. Without penalties imposed on officers for dereliction of duty, all residents get is to hear of yet another Committee being set up to deal with Civic Malfunctions . We go round and round in circles and the city residents suffer

The Media too has mostly kept its focus on the sensational and political aspects of waste and has ignored the abject bureaucratic apathy, and inefficiency on part of the state administration

Public spirited citizens must get this. They must raise their voice to protest this delaying tactic and escape route in the garb of awareness programmes and solution finding meetings being carried out by the administration.
There is much corruption in the business of waste and entrenched vested interests do not allow change easily. The pre existing economic model for waste has run its course and new economic models which are fairly well known must be made a part of the reform process

Citizens must turn their focus on the State administration and call its officers to account. Law enforcement on the public and making officers accountable for the failure to implement the SWM 2016 rules should be our demand. That would be the most effective awareness programme as well as the solution.

 Ashutosh Dikshit

CEO

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URJA Editorial- June 2017

Heedless Politicking is disenfranchising the citizen

In late 2012, some citizens in the Alaknanda, GK2, CR Park area of Delhi began to ask questions about DDA’s sanction of a Huge Mall in the middle of SFS flats. Un serviced by any major road and in the immediate vicinity of schools this project on community Centre land was clearly an ill-conceived project which would be detrimental to the quality of life and environment of the community

No sooner had the questions begun the citizens who had raised concerns began to be branded as belonging to this political party or the other. This attack came from sundry local level political activists and other vested interests associated with the politicians of the area. Since the group of citizens were professionals and had done their homework they were able to counter petty political attacks with facts and since they were a group of committed individuals they did not back down
However, standing up to political noise is not easy and not everybody has the mettle for it.

We often notice that in local area and municipal wards or assembly constituency any genuine concern or questions raised by a citizen is quickly branded as proxy questioning from one political party or the other. Apart from the general complaint on garbage and roads any question regarding policy, projects or quality of work produced by the authorities is quickly branded as political questioning.

The RWA, actively engaged in keeping an eye as well as assisting last mile too are concerned with this. Raising genuine concerns of the residents persistently often invites attacks from local political elements as well as some politicized residents.

This phenomenon is not new and worries the ordinary citizen about being falsely identified with a political party, thereby scaring him from raising genuine questions. This is problematic as it helps the corrupt and the inefficient within the system to get away with substandard work. Questioning a policy of the Municipal corporation, State Government or the Centre invites attack and accusations from the political party which heads the respective administration and results in abject failure of the policy when it reaches implementation stage. It breeds corruption as only a few people benefit from the contractor-official-politician nexus in projects that follow.

We all see the mindless, petty, and noisy announcements & protests daily by political parties. Opposition for the sake of opposing & creating a daily flutter for themselves and TRPs for channels is of little use for the citizen who finds herself in the same situation watching the daily antics of political activists and their cohorts.

Political parties do not always work in the interest of the people. They work in the Party’s interest by appropriating Government power through election by the people. Once in charge they resist any sort of questioning that may open them to questioning.

The Citizen as well as RWA executives, must not be browbeaten by the slants and petty pricking done by local political activists and their associates within the colonies.
This is not to say that the government must listen to every protest and objection. That would bring the administration to a stop.

The Citizen and the RWA should not be concerned much about motivated political activists accusing them. The citizen & RWA have a right to ask questions of the government and ask questions we will. An inquiry about the intention, policy, and quality of execution of public work is not an accusation. It is a question and Govts must answer the questions.

The RWA and citizens’ groups must repeatedly ask of their government. it is not only their right, it is also their duty

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URJA Editorial -May 2017

Monday the 5th June 2017, is world Environment day. On this day several government, public & private entities will hold events, ceremonies, campaign launches and media briefs to repeat the problems faced by Delhi as the most polluted city in the world. It will likely pass of as just another day of tokenism about the environment.

Delhi is enveloped by the foulest air on the planet, the river Yamuna is dangerously polluted with chemical and biological toxic agents, the rivers flood plains are ravaged, the city’s water bodies have dried or are overflowing with Debris and other such calamitous warnings are fairly regular in the media and from environmentalists.

Delhi has the highest GDP among all cities in India as well as the highest per capita Income in the country. The most polluted city in the country is economically doing well but the money earned by its residents and taxes earned by the Government are being wasted as Delhi has the highest number of cancer, heart disease, diabetes and asthma cases that are rising steadily with specially amongst infants, the elderly & pregnant women.

The scale of this problem is so huge that nothing less than the Central government needs to step in with urgency to deal with this emergency. The Centre has rightly notified the graded a response action plan wherein the Min. of Environment and Forest has notified that….’Whereas high level of air pollution in Delhi and National Capital Region of Delhi has been a matter of serious concern and requires urgent measures to address the issue, particularly with reference to episodic rises in pollution levels;…

However, even though the average AQI for the two years starting from January 2015 to December 2016 has fluctuated between Very Poor, Poor and Moderate categories of pollution the notification by the center is not being acted upon

URJA maintains that pollution is a governance issue and its rising levels indicate nothing but poor Governance. Garbage, choked drains, foul air and toxic river are markers of bad governance.

To get an understanding of the situation please read this excerpt from the latest Praja report on civic services in Delhi (@praja.org)

‘The total number of complaints in the last three years for ‘Sewerage’ related complaints were 17,284 but only two issues were raised by Councillors (2014, 2015 and 2016) and two by MLAs on it (2015 and 2016).’ & ‘during April 2015 to March 2016 the BJP has raised only one issue on environment/pollution, although the topic was mentioned in its manifesto. This is particularly worrisome as Delhi has been grappling with record-breaking air pollution in the recent past. ….’

If the representatives of the people are not raising the concerns and hazards faced by residents and are neither bringing up the failure of what was promised in their manifestos, then something is very seriously wrong!

The Deliberative wing of the Municipal Corporations & the Delhi Assembly is where the people elected by us are meant to ask questions and implement corrective measures.  If the chief concerns of the citizens are not even being raised there it shows an abject failure of representative democracy.

The Delhi Clean Air Forum in its second phase (DCAF2), set up by URJA last year, intends to address this issue.  Beginning with its first meeting in the India International Centre it extended the program outreach to Schools starting with a detailed presentation to the Students of Sanskriti School, Delhi.

Now the DCAF2 is likely to be attended by all major educational and religious institutes, MLA, MLC, Zonal sanitary in charge, environment & youth groups, key RWAs, MTAs and their important members and representative of Delhi Police.  Beside these, DCAF2 will also witness a large number corporates actively working with urban communities.

It must also be said that, the political class has also voiced its frustration with Delhi’s citizenry. That too must be put on record. The elected leaders feel helpless against the public indiscipline, habitual law breaking, littering, rampant public urination, spitting and encroachment on public lands/footpath etc. Even posh colonies of South Delhi have so called educated residents throwing household waste and garbage filled in poly bags into their back lanes. . Restaurants discharge untreated grease and kitchen waste into sewers in some top South Delhi markets placed within residential area and community centers. Construction & renovation leaves dust flying all around and Malba dumped in public places.

Privately URJA has been told by political representatives that, given many political parties and therefore a variety of political choices available with a large percentage of voters they simply cannot risk annoying even a small section of the citizens. This simply results in leaving residential areas to their own devices with no elected leader taking any decisive stand and only making pleasing promises.

This will not do! We urge the RWA, NGOs and citizen’s groups to declare that sullying our neighbourhood will simply not do and people indulging in such activity will be named and shamed or reported to authorities. On their part, the authorities must act decisively with the full force of the law to punish/penalize law breakers if any improvement in Delhi’s deplorable and critical state of affairs is to be expected.

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URJA Editorial-April 2017

This edition of the newsletter was delayed as we waited for the results of Municipal elections in Delhi

The BJP, through its strategy of shedding the baggage of bad governance by shedding its own sitting councillors, and inducting a fresh batch of candidates to contest, has paid off electorally. The AAP, which comes a distant second has clearly been subjected to public displeasure. The congress which tried very hard failed to get much public support as the public see it as a party of dated ideas and uninspiring leadership.

The question we ask in URJA is; Does this change anything at all?

The AAP is still in Power as the State Government in Delhi and the BJP is back in the Municipal Corporation which is no different from the situation prior to these elections

It has been called a referendum on the Chief Minister’s performance in Delhi. Does it mean, by the same yardstick that it is a referendum on the MCDs performance as well? Surely the latter cannot be true.

But was this a vote on Delhi’s festering issues at all? Perhaps not. It was a vote on choosing between the leadership style of the Prime Minister & That of Delhi’s Chief Minister. Since there is a stark difference in both leadership styles, it was only natural that the public would be sharply divided in making their choices.

What should be said at this point is that the people of Delhi are failing to see that merely replacing one elected by another will not change things.  Good governance in Delhi has little to do with democratic representation anymore. Delhi suffers from excessive politics. It is full of elected representatives, political players, party activists and several other political creatures who harm Governance more than they can help. Delhi requires a smart and accountable administration. Delhi has a Master Plan, the MPD 2021, it is a statutory document, which is meant to be used as a road map for the city’s development. Delhi’s RWAs should push for its implementation and question the different departments if they have failed in implementing the provisions of MPD20121. The National vector Borne disease control Programme(NVBDCP) has a policy for fighting Dengue & Chikungunya. Fogging is not really recommended for fighting this Scourge. The RWa Instead of running to their Councillors for the annual drama of fogging to mislead the people, should instead put pressure on the Lt. Governor and the Municipal health officers responsible for this.

Delhi’s problems are vast and the administrative mechanisms inadequate. The state administration is conservative and mired in red tape. However, Delhi has an advantage. Being the country’s capital it also has some of the topmost experts in the field of technology, waste management, urban planning, environment, policing & security, and other disciplines that Delhi so desperately needs inputs from. Delhi also as an interested citizenry which is politically aware and socially active

We urge the new Municipal leadership as well as the Municipal and state Bureaucracy to be open to building collaborative mechanisms with Resident Welfare Associations(RWA), expert groups and other citizens’ collectives to work together to Renew Delhi.

A young lot of corporators has come into the municipal corporation and we hope that the state leadership of the BJP will be able to direct their energies positively and not let them get jaded and cynical as has often been the case in the past.

 

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URJA Editorial March 2017

The Municipal elections are due soon. Once again, after 5 years the task of electing the 272 municipal councillors will take place. The councillors represent the public of Delhi to the Municipal corporation in local issues such as parks, garbage and solid municipal waste management, internal roads, StreetSide hawking, Primary health care & education, and parking as well as sanction of building plans

The Municipal Corporators form the bed rock of representative democracy in the city and it can be easily said that the status of a municipal ward is significantly impacted by the Municipal councillor. Over the years much has been said about corruption etc., yet at the local level corruption does not seem to matter much. Corruption is very much a daily part of life in India and citizens themselves are participants in it in varying degree thereby making it a less important issue as compared to getting the Municipal Officers to work.

The public is concerned with efficiency and delivery of services and how they can go about their lives and pay their taxes, educate their children, and earn a living without broken roads and footpaths, overflowing garbage, inadequate lighting, dirty parks, the annual scourge of dengue and chikungunya and other such local issues which no political party has been able to resolve and get the officers in the various departments to deliver.

There is no data available with the public that can verify to it if any promises made by all political parties were fulfilled even minimally. However, RWAs have long memories and remember the promises made by parties in their last manifesto.

URJA has written to the election commission more than once that;

‘To begin with, we urge you to consider adding a column where a candidate who contests an election more than once, files an affidavit with the commission declaring the extent to which the promises made by him through his party manifesto in the past were fulfilled and provide ‘sufficient’ and ‘verifiable’ data to the commission to buttress his claim.’

So far, the election commission has not acted on our request but we shall continue to push for this.

We also have data* through RTI which shows us clearly that the questions raised by Municipal councillors in the house were very often not about the local grievances recorded by the Municipal corporations

The RWAs must make it a point to be more aware of facts and data and should duly bring it up with the councillors as well as candidates

The practice of carrying forward LAD funds from one year to the next and adding cumulatively has been used to deprive citizens of tax payer’s money allocated for regular use. We hope the voter will question this practice

The sudden spate of internal road work, multi Gym and park development that is taking place close to elections begs the question. What were the officers in the Govt. departments doing for the whole year? Why were citizens and voters deprived of these facilities throughout the year? How is the coming monsoon going to different for mosquito breeding? How can we ensure Government officers do their job?

At this point, most RWA as well as citizens are left wondering; what are permanently commissioned officers in pensionable jobs doing in their offices?

 

* Source- Praja.org

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URJA Editorial February 2017

Focus on Implementing Policies rather than creating new ones

The Master Plan, MPD 2021 for Delhi projects a population of 23 Million (2.3 Crores) inhabitants by 2021. The World Health organisation(WHO) estimates Delhi having already reached a population of 25 Million. This is more than a 100% increase or more than double the population of Delhi in 1990.

As per 2011 Census of Government. Of India, Delhi Population stood at 17 Million (1.7 Crores) in 2011

The Area of Delhi is static at 1483Sq. Km.

The Population density, one of the highest in the world is at about 12,000 /Sq. Km

With East Delhi reaching 30,000/Sq. Km

These are humungous figures whichever source one chooses to believe and are straining the public services on roads, public land, health services, air and water quality, waste disposal, and education to their current limits. We have been unable to shore up municipal revenue, unable to deal with mismanagement of parking, footpaths, road hawking, encroachment on public land and other such challenges of the urban crisis in Delhi.

The Master plan for Delhi and many other policies made by the authorities such as Transit Oriented Development, Parking Management & Pricing policies created by UTTIPEC exist and it is not for us to quibble with them unnecessarily as these are policies made after much deliberation between experts, political executive and officers and are aligned with international best practices as well.

 However, it is evident that the optimum implementation and delivery of these policies has failed. The government does not have the wherewithal, even if it has the intention, to deliver

There is a lack of seriousness and reticence in implementing policies which are in place. The absence of the Government of Delhi from implementation and enforcement is creating serious problems for the city. Failure of implementation is being read as failure of policy itself

  1. The general belief of an inefficient bureaucracy is getting increasingly solidified
  2. The writ of the ‘State’ is being eroded leading to public indiscipline
  3. A natural disaster in Delhi can have terrifying implications

The problem is serious and ignoring such issues have implications of a ‘tipping point’ phenomenon where unbeknownst to us a series of consequences suddenly manifest at the same time leading to an unmanageable situation. We urge the GNCTD as well as the Central Government. to be mindful of this.

URJA has for long advocated a process driven Structured Consultation Mechanism which includes the Local Elected Representative, The Civic Authorities & The RWA. While it is true that local politicians do separately and privately consult their party workers, and a few RWA, there is no process for a structured consultation mechanism. We also advocate training for citizens as well as school going children in disaster response as well as training & protocol to help accident victims

The word ‘consultation’ need not scare the elected representatives and the government. We are clear that the ‘decision’ must be taken by those statutorily empowered or obliged to. Administrative decisions must be taken, only by the Government.  However, a structured process of communication and conversation is a very important tool in keeping a transparent & official record of community inputs. A well-structured and recordable consultation and participation process allows for a sense of community responsibility and ownership of civic works, and reduces resistance that often stems from an inbuilt suspicion of the officialdom & political class. The recent agitation by the traders of Connaught Place on the Vehicle Free Plan of NDMC could easily have been avoided had the Council followed a proper & transparent consultation.

This is not some newfangled idea. Structured and recordable consultative processes are practiced in Europe and the United States as well as African countries. These models are available and have worked for long. The 74th Constitutional amendment also speaks of them in its letter and spirit. For some reason our Governments have kept Delhi’s citizen away from the benefits and ease of governance that naturally follows from such mechanisms.

URJA hopes that the time and the atmosphere is right for our Lt. Governor and our Chief Minister to take note and act on this.

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URJA Editorial January 2017

We wish you a very happy & prosperous new year.
Many older citizen’s reminiscence with nostalgia the glorious days of the full UT of Delhi. Unfortunately, such memories serve no useful purpose. Delhi is a mixed bag that can either become a fine example of how National Capital territory ought to be Governed or it can slide into become becoming an example of how a city can be destroyed.
We are inclined however, to see the glass as half full. At the level of local neighbourhoods, Resident Welfare Associations(RWA), Market Trader Associations(MTA), Citizens’ collectives and several other community groups start the day with much enthusiasm.

There is something about voluntary groups that has a unique energy.
We observe that political change at the helm of Urban administration in big cities has not had much impact in changing the quality of Governance and most citizens have reluctantly come to accept the fact that the enforcement of the rule of law, effective implementation of policies and rules are somewhat alien to our model of Governance and officials will leave people to their own devices till a crisis erupts. The role of the RWA and community groups therefore becomes paramount in such a situation.
Resident welfare Associations remain the most effective and viable bridge between residents and the political representative/ the bureaucracy. For the last decade URJA and our RWA network has demanded laws to regulate as well as empower the RWA to ensure better delivery of services and redressing grievances.
URJA has connected experts and welfare associations and bought them together to address the disconnect between expert formulations and the reality at the electoral booth level. This has been a very useful experience. Our programmes on connecting premier research organisations and think tanks with RWA and local Politicians across Delhi has helped us understand the fault lines and imagine solutions. Urban Planning, Traffic Management, Air Pollution, water harvesting and recycling, Solar Power and Data analysis are disciplines where we have assisted as well as connected institutions with the RWA and Citizens Collectives.
URJA has been asking for a process of a structured, recordable, and regular consultation mechanism to streamline last mile governance. The Ward Committee comprising of the RWA, MTA, Political representatives and officers is an effective first step that should be taken in this direction. Ward committee in each Municipal ward is a sure shot way of immediate transparency and accountability in local administration. The Political class is wary of such initiatives but we are convinced that this must be done and political parties in Delhi must come around and accept it
The National Capital Territory of Delhi has a new Lt Governor. He comes with a lot of administrative experience and knowledge of Delhi. It is hoped that the New Lt. governor as well as the incumbent Chief Minister will work together to tackle urgent and impending issues. URJA will extend its cooperation wherever needed through our members spread across the 272 Municipal wards in Delhi.
We urge the residents of Delhi to involve themselves more proactively in the health of their neighbourhood. If you have a complaint with civic services immediately complain in writing to the concerned department. This is very important. Do involve yourself with your RWA and other social groups to help tackle problems of parking inside colonies, step out and chat with your neighbour, prevent burning of waste and push for segregating and composting, Help and support the young with sports and free play in neighbourhood parks, support community solar power projects and refrain from patronizing illegal commercial enterprises.
For those who want to extend themselves for their neighbourhood there is never a dull moment.
May 2017 bring you Joy.

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