In the times when there is general apathy amongst citizens towards issues like lack of civic amenities, environmental degeneration, etc, Bangalore has seen a rise in the number of active Residents’ Welfare Associations (RWAs) in different parts of the town.
One such RWA is Uthkarsh, in LB Shastri Nagar. Their vision is to make the residents of LB Shastri Nagar proud to live in the locality. With a vision like this, the association takes up work in various areas to – influence and improve the state of the civic amenities, increase the participation of the residents in the civic administration, promote actions to protect and improve the environment, improve recreation options and increase the interaction amongst the community and bring a sense of togetherness.
In April 2006, on a sunny Sunday afternoon, a few residents came together to discuss the sorry state of affairs in their layout and how it affected the lives of the residents. LB Shastri Nagar had not witnessed tarred roads for a long time. The drains were blocked with garbage most of the time and they were not being cleared regularly. There was no garbage collection facility available in the layout and garbage was being dumped in the Vibhutipura Lake.
What was initiated by a few residents of neighbouring apartments slowly but surely gained strength and recognition from those who matter the most, the residents of LB Shastri Nagar.
The core team of Uthkarsh comprises of around seventeen active, committed and involved individuals and the number is growing. The larger Uthkarsh group comprises of about 50-60 residents. Most of the members of this RWA hold jobs in IT firms, NGOs and so on. But they still find and volunteer their precious time for the initiatives as it translates into the betterment of their surroundings.
Uthkarsh has several ongoing projects/initiatives such as the eco awareness and action campaign, betterment of Vibhutipura lake, Clean and Green LB Shastri Nagar and so on. For initiatives like getting tarred roads, which Uthkarsh has very diligently pursued, it was very important to get support from the government authorities.
Government authorities are generally perceived as not reachable by the common man. But Uthkarsh had a very positive experience with the local MLA, Nandiesh Reddy. With the necessary support from the authorities, Uthkarsh played a very active role and LBS Nagar soon witnessed tarring of roads last year. After that, residents started looking up on Uthkarsh with greater expectations.
But to demand anything from the government bodies, it is important that the residents exercise their fundamental right of casting their votes and become active and aware citizens. This was what was not happening in this layout though.
The Assembly elections of 2008 saw a very low voter turnout. Many residents had not even enrolled themselves in the electoral rolls. In order to increase the participation of people in the Civic Administration during the BBMP elections, Uthkarsh took up a massive “Go Vote” campaign.
For rightful demand
Uthkarsh Democracy Champions methodically planned a campaign, the purpose of which was to get more and more people to exercise their right to vote. They found out the names of people already listed in the electoral rolls, giving forms to people who wanted to enroll themselves and then submitting the forms, disseminating information about the candidates who were contesting the BBMP elections and so on.
Before the BBMP elections, the entire team went door to door to all the apartments and informed the residents about the day of the elections, the venue of their booth, their part number, the candidates, etc. They also convinced people about the importance of casting their votes and playing an active part in choosing the right candidate.
Residents realised Utkarsh was apolitical and objective since the team was not campaigning for any political party, but rather just urging people to cast their precious votes.
The efforts of the Uthkarsh Team paid off eventually. There was a steep rise in the number of people who voted during the BBMP elections from LB Shastri Nagar in general and from the apartments in the layout in particular.
The following statistics speak for themselves about the Go Vote campaign undertaken by Uthkarsh during the BBMP elections.
|Apartment||Total Registered Voters||Number of voters in station on 28.03.2010||Number of Votes cast||Voting Percentage (based on numbers of voters in station)|
|Gopalan Royal Palms||152||109||95||87.20%|