We, the middle class, must take to politics

dir="ltr">The low polling percentage in MCH elections – about 50% – has raised many eyebrows. Elections are the very lifeblood of a democracy. Honest and capable citizens freely chosen as their representatives in a fair election process constitute the essence of good governance. An election is therefore about ‘who’ get elected, ‘how’ the election is conducted and ‘what’ they do after the election. Elections involve organization of political parties, evolving a platform, mobilizing public opinion, campaigning to convey the message to the voters, and obtaining support to get elected.

Stake-holders Must Become Power-wielders

With MCH elections round the corner, many people are wondering what all this fuss is about. Roads will only receive periodic make-up, garbage will not be cleared and streets will not have lights. We will continue to wait endlessly at MCH office for simple services or shell out a bribe and people will be figuring out ways to avoid taxes for services they do not receive. The Mayor and Council have no real powers. So what can we the citizens do?

Citizens Charters for Better Service

Rashid is a resident of Hyderabad. Some years ago he needed a no objection certificate from MCH to sell his house, and for that he had to clear all property tax dues. He approached MCH to know how much he owed in taxes. He was not seeking a favour. He wanted to pay taxes. And yet, even for this information he was made to run from pillar to post. After 9 months and 36 visits he got the answer. But only after he shelled out as a bribe an amount equal to half the tax due! This is not an isolated case.

Can We Keep Public Places Clean?

Indians follow rules. Indians are law-abiding citizens. Indians keep their homes and surroundings spic and span. Indians don’t throw orange peels or papers from moving vehicles, nor do they litter public places or spit on the roads. Where do all these Indians live? In countries where importance is given to rules and where norms of community behaviour exist more in the practice than in the breach. The Indian whose civic behaviour abroad is exemplary does not think twice about littering public places once s/he reaches India?

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