CITY & CIVIL SOCIETY

Vijay K. Saluja 
Senior Fellow[urban studies]
Institute of Social Sciences, New Delhi
& Ex Chief Engineer[civil], New Delhi Municipal Council  


Over the years , due to rapid urbanization, sizes of cities in India, have increased manifold. Migration of population from hinterland, due to various reasons, is one of the primary factor.

Delhi is a typical example. Area under its jurisdiction is around 1500 square kilometers & the present population figures are around 15-16 millions. Civic needs of its areas are now being looked after by five[earlier it was three] local bodies. Due to large area, local governance is not as effective as it need to be, due to many constraints/reasons?

In the given scenario, civil society has very important role to play in all the cities? Effective & positive oriented Residents Welfare Associations[RWAs], Traders Welfare Associations[TWAs] & local citizens Groups can play complementary roles & help local bodies in efficient, effective governance & management of colonies/markets?

How? One may ask————–

I, will give two examples of the citizen groups, which operate in the area where I live-DWARKA.

`Dwarka Forum` & `Sukh Dukh Kay Sathi Sanstha` are the ones who are doing very useful work?Though, there are many many others, too. But for the sake of this article, I will briefly discuss about their activities.

`Dwarka Forum` is an e-Group of Dwarka Residents.Various local issues of common interest are discussed through Internet & well-cogitated solutions are found/implemented. Interactions with the local elected representatives, officials[police,DDA, local bodies etc etc] also happen from time to time. Over the time, the `Forum` has become fairly cohesive & is doing very useful work for this well-laid out colony.

`Sukh Dukh Kay Sathi Sanstha` is a Group predominently of senior citizens –sizable number of them are morning walkers. Of late, their walks & talks extend in the evenings also. Their members are mainly drawn from Sector 22-23, though lately residents of Sector 20-21 have also started joining in. Presently, their strength is about 130. About fourty are quite regular in their morning appearance.

What do they do?


They walk, jog, laugh, exercise & then sit together in one of the park in Sector 22 & there, they deliberate on all the key issues of Dwarka, Delhi, India & the World?! What glues them together is their passion to do something for their neighbourhood. And, they have been/are fairly successful in that?

The park which they frequent & sit in, is very lovingly nurtured by them in very close collaboration with the horticulture staff[& their families] of DDA. No of events/ festivals like World Enviornment Day, Basant Panchami, Diwali, new year day etc etc ,are celebrated with gusto along with the families of the horticulture & other staff of DDA & the local body.

Painting competition have been held for the children of the staff & prizes are given to them besides eats etc.This has created lot of good will & bonhomie.Tree plantations which is organized from time to time becomes a big success. The Park itself is cared & nurtured very well & has been adjudged as one of the best park in the small category, by DDA.!

This Group is self supported. Funds come from self contribution from the members. On a weekend, there are birthday celebrations,too,where apart from from Happy Birthday choruses, the poetic talents of some of the members also get displayed. Besides, there are jokes, too. Senior citizens of this Group, to my mind, are having wonderful time & will love to do more & have more residents of the Sectors joining them. They have very amiable Executive Committee with contact no 9711860519.

I, personally feel, the urban local bodies [in this case South Delhi Municipal Corporation & DDA] should aggressively seek the help of these active & committed groups to supplement their efforts in keeping colonies, markets, open spaces & roads clean.

Presently these need much care especially the Malls & markets of Dwarka & in the whole of Delhi.

This exercise/model, can be replicated in all parts of Delhi/other cities.

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