My work with rural women has taught me:
- That meeting with all the people in the village, once a month, is an integral part of village councils (simple enough.. but does not happen as fairly or often as it is supposed to)
- Networking with your representatives in the governance and administration bodies is very useful
- You don’t need to hold a post in governance to have power to change things (They shared that their main aim of standing for elections were to affect social change and develop their village’s infrastructure. Now, many of them are no longer holding a formal post in the council but no way in hell does that stop them from continuing to affect social change. They shared the power of networking and representing the wish of the people as a social representative.)
Also, I think somewhere, the government is also looking for friendly, conscious citizen to partner with to make its work easier. (yeah I still have my rose tinted glasses on) J
So, I don’t see why the same model can’t be (or atleast tried) on scale. Let us suppose you are a, corporator, representing your Ward in a metro like Bangalore.
Let us say you break down your ward area further into areas and further into zones, each with a manageable number of population (what is a manageable number is determined by your resources).
Ward > Area > Zone
Would 6 months be enough (of a 5 year term) for you to get a basic profile (name, occupation, contact details) of each person in each zone in your ward?
How nice would it be then to hold Ward council meetings zone-wise to truly represent those who have voted for you?
HOLD IT! Reality check. What are the constraints?
1. Time people would be willing to invest in coming to your “meeting”
2. Money / logistical problems to come to the meeting
3. Managing to actually give all present a fair hearing
Thankfully as I’m not communicating this in a formal proposal, I can afford to overlook logical loopholes (I’m sure there will be others who have a skill to spot them) and allow flight of fancy to take me a little further into hypothetical solutions to these.
1. Time willingly spent to work WITH your government is not something that will happen over night but maybe, just maybe, getting an email from your ward representative (who knew we even had one!) might rouse the curiosity of a few. For those who are not email-accessible, a phone call or sms inviting them to meet with their representative might just work. Having food at the meetings will certainly help (food always help :p )
2. Have you seen the free open top double decker buses that ferry across people who want to see Bangalore? Well that was a swell idea and I’m pretty sure that with the power of networking between corporates and corporators facilitating free travel to the meeting and back shouldn’t pose as much a problem (that is not counting if maybe there actually might be budget that can be set up for it)
3. A written comment form and scribes for those who cant write to ensure it is recorded for review. Addressing the most commonly occurring and (in the eyes of the corporator and his advisory committee) important suggestions/issues/feedback can be shared and review of the action items of the previous meeting can be done too (hopefully there will be something positive to share on this front!)
These were some of the thoughts that formed in my head today when I thought of being part of this administration/governance system that I so easily blame (atleast once a day). Then I got in touch with the fact that I needn’t BE in power to do this. I can, as a good citizen, offer my ideas and services to make this into a reality.
I don’t know how much this sounds like an illogical, bordering on sci-fi, plan but it gave me happiness to think that this is possible.