T. Sampath Kumar
Readers are requested to share their Comments and Experiences to better Dwarka sub-city.
Why are the majority of the Management Committees (MCs) of Dwarka’s Cooperative Group Housing Societies (CGHSs) not performing their duties? Why the residents in these tall buildings are not happy? What is plaguing these Societies which are supposed to be symbols of cooperation, harmony and self-management? Why are these compact Societies becoming breeding grounds for group politics and mismanagement? Why are these CGHSs comprising of educated mass failing to manage their own affairs? Importantly, why are they paving way for an external administrator to sit in their own compound to run their own affairs? Is it not a shame on the residents of a given Society? What is ailing these Societies? Why are the members / residents passive and not taking active role in making the MCs effective, transparent and accountable? What are the factors? Is it money / power / authority or combination of complex factors that are impacting the management of these Societies? How long this will continue in Dwarka?
My purpose of this article is not to bombard the readers with questions! These are some of the questions keep popping up during informal conversations and social chats in Dwarka. “We did not know any thing till a few days ago. Now we see an administrator is sitting in our Society to manage our affairs. This will increase our recurring charges as we need to pay Administrator’s salary and related expenditure.” a friend shared with us in indignation. Another resident from another Society revealed: “Ours is a big society with more than 200 apartments. Group politics did not allow the MC to function properly. The equation between the MC, a group of residents and the builder had deteriorated with time. All these lead to the appointment of an Administrator.” He – a concerned resident – does not see any ray of hope for normalcy in near future. It is also heard that individuals with vested interests some how manage to drag the period of administration (in collusion with the administrator?) to delay the elections. According to knowledgeable people in Dwarka, there are at least fifteen Societies in Dwarka currently managed by the Administrators appointed by the Registrar of Cooperative Societies. This number may increase as we keep hearing turbulences in Societies.
Root causes: Money seems to be one of the key reasons of the malady. CGHSs are being formed at the behest of a few enlightened people with common interests. During the construction phase, the members’ association and involvement with day to day affairs of the MC does not exist. MCs organize periodic meetings and present progress of the construction, problems being faced and cost escalations to its members. Usually, the construction period takes several years to complete and often go beyond the estimated timeframes by several years! Costs overrun. Members pay additional amounts to see their dreams one day are realised. Not able to cope up with increased costs (and for other reasons), sadly members leave the Societies. This phase is most vulnerable for siphoning the Society’s money as members are not at one place, and not well organized to raise their voices. The relationship between the Society and the contractor / builder, in most of the cases, gets spoiled during this time leading to legal battles. It is believed that builder and the MC join hands by sacrificing the larger interests of the Society members. Unfortunately, majority of the members fall in line with the decisions of the MC in good faith as the circumstances does not allow them for closer scrutiny of records, expenditure and quality of work. Exit and entry of new members also add another angle for potential irregularities and mismanagement. Due to some peculiar circumstances and poor financial planning, a few Societies ended up with large sums (several lakhs to crores) money with them. This is a strong pull for ill minded people to get into the management of Societies. In addition, hungry for authority, to corner undue benefits, to settle scores with opponents are also considered some of the causes for vested people to enter into the management of the Societies.
Passive participation of members / residents: Once the Societies get filled up with respective members (and tenants), communities emerge in these compounds. There is a big scope for these captive members (which was not possible during the construction phase) to take active roles in the affairs of the Societies on a concurrent basis. Unfortunately, the MC meetings, special meetings and General Body meetings are poorly attended, inadequately participated by the members / residents in the deliberations. This is a serious setback to already poorly conducted meetings by the MCs. Group politics flare up, discussions suffer, agenda gets sidelined and intended output does not come out at the end of the meeting. By the time meetings come to a formal closure, only a few people are present. There were instances where meetings were conducted with police around as a precautionary measure to prevent unwanted incidents in the Society.
What needs to be done: How do we make MCs efficient, effective, accountable, transparent and professional in managing the Societies’ affairs? Usually MCs consist of small number (7 – 15) of elected people. There will be always sizeable people who do not want to be a part of an “elected body” but wish to contribute towards the betterment of the Society. In a typical CGHS, there will be people with expertise, knowledge, skills and experiences from different fields which could be tapped for smooth running of Societies. One way to tap in-house abilities is through formation of sub-committees on various themes / tasks (seepage, environment, quality water supply, finance, civil works etc). These sub-committees are formed by the MC which again will have some inherent problems of groupism, antagonism and obstructionism. Often, members are forced to be part of the sub-committees to protect (or represent) the interests of groups leading to sub-optimal delivery of services. On the basis of my seven years of living in a Dwarka CGHS, listening to a few Societies’ performances, group dynamics and interrelationships among the MC members of Dwarka and elsewhere, I propose a group of individuals who really care for the betterment of the society. I prefer to call it as “Shub-Chintak Group” with a watch-dog role having a structure without any bias for any group / individuals but only for truth, good governance and transparency. A group with volunteers without any hierarchical structure is expected to commit itself for the betterment of the society. The primary objective of this Group is to protect the interests (hence Shub-Chintak) of the Society and help the MC in a pro-active manner discharging its responsibilities in an efficient manner.
How to form a Shub-Chintak Group: Concerned members of any Society who are willing to see smooth management, and protect the entitlements of the members / tenants, should volunteer full heartedly with no hungry for power and authority to come forward to form this Group. Its role should be to strengthen the MC by making an objective assessment of its work on a regular basis and contribute by giving critical inputs to the MC for improved performance and efficiency. These sensitized residents are expected to spend little more time and actively participate compared to the silent majority who are often passive and do not contribute in any manner. Shub-Chintak Group is expected to do a watchdog role by constantly monitoring the MC’s work and contributes productively for increased performance for larger good of the Society. The proposed Group is an ideal informal institution for motivating women to take active part and contribute to add value to collective wisdom. It is conceived that this Group can fill a critical gap by bridging smaller group of elected body (MC) and a larger passive body in a given CGHS to realize the fuller benefits of cooperative principles. It can also effectively prevent the appointment of administrators by identifying the problems at an early stage for corrections. MCs can benefit significantly from this Group so that problems can be addressed quickly to keep the administrators at bay.
Risks: Sustenance of Shub-Chintak Group will not be a cake walk. People will have apprehensions about the ‘yet another’ Group in a Society. The MCs (with highly polarized groups) can oppose at once against this initiative in their respective Societies. As this Group is expected to work like a CCTV camera, MCs can create hurdles to kill this initiative at its embryonic stage. If people are committed to form this Group, MC can try to place ‘their agents’ in the group. Truth has immense power to weed out such people from the Group in due course. Results may not come that easily therefore perseverance and patience are required. The challenge is to sell the idea and promote that Shub-Chintak Group as a friend –not a foe- of the MC for cleaner administration. If necessary, Group needs to embrace Gandhigiri by involving all the residents for common good. Apartments are edifices of Societies and Societies are edifices of Dwarka. A beginning needs to be made before it is too late.
Please spread this message. Contact for any assitance/ guidance to start Shub-Chintak Group in your CGHSs.
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