April 18, 2009

Civic Campaigns in Our Neighbourhoods

Here is a challenging project for students of sociology, social work, public administration or political science.
This summer, would you like to document and research some of the interesting community and neighourhood campaigns which have taken place in the city of Chennai?
If you are keen, the field is wide open.
For a couple of years now, we have been reporting a campaign that involved the neighbourhoods of Ashok Nagar and K. K. Nagar.
It began small. A handful of people who wondered how a prime piece of open land that should have been developed for the community had been taken over by hawkers, brokers and small-fry politicians.
What began as a simple effort led to a legal battle and finally ended with victory for the community - it managed to get the Chennai Corporation to take charge of this area and develop it into a nice park.
The campaign was a tough one. There were hints of violence too.
And one man called Ravichandran led the community from the front.
Soon thereafter, another issue troubled the same neighbourhood.
Major changes in the traffic flow system were made by the Chennai City Traffic Police in the Ashok Pillar area.
Heavy traffic, of state transport buses on long distance routes and goods-laden lorries criss-cross this region and the police wanted to address the issue.
But the changes completely ignored the condition of the residents in the colonies of this area. They could not cross the roads, they could not access key utilities and their locomotion was curtailed.
Ravichandran had another campaign on his hands. But he had to rouse the residents into action.
Civic campaigns are not easy.
Most people prefer to sit back and let the dedicated do all the dirty work.
In this case, more than a handful lent their support. They did not go too far. But they did not give up.
On Thursday, they tasted success. The Traffic Police revoked the changed system that was on 'trial'. The community won.

1 comment:

Venkatraghavan said...

Today is Earth day. I came across an organisation from Adyar called Shareadrive which featured in one of the leading newspapers recently. It is brilliant idea towards a better environment. Their website is www.shareadrive.in. Me and couple of my colleagues have already registered on this website.

In this day when everyone is only talking "GREEN", there are very few people who are actually doing something about it. It would be good if many people came up with some innovative ideas like this one. My kudos to the members of this venture.