A voluntary citizens’ initiative emerged in 1990-91 as a forum for discussion and action on issues impacting Bangalore, its development and future. The initiative became a registered non-profit charitable trust, Citizens’ Voluntary Initiative for the City of Bangalore (CIVIC Bangalore), in 1992. Realising decentralisation in the urban context, through the implementation of the 74th CAA, has been our aim. Our aim has not been to supplement or supplant government services but to make the government deliver on its promises to the people. We have worked with the state and local governments and the general public, advocating for the desired changes. By focusing on democracy, decentralization and public participation, our activities promote good governance, inclusiveness, and improvement of service delivery.
In the last 6 years, given the growing disparities in the City, our focus has been on the urban poor. The main tools used by CIVIC to improve service delivery encompass transparency, awareness building and empowerment of the community through the Right to Information, accountability through public interactions with officials for grievance reddressal and advocacy for systemic changes through public hearings, while acknowledging the procedures to be followed by the government itself.
At the slum level, CIVIC has produced IEC material and conducted awareness programmes, grievance reddressal meetings, action research and public hearings for the urban poor on five rights: the rights to food, water, health, education, livelihood and welfare schemes.
At the ward level, our focus has been on bringing all sections of society, including the urban poor, on a common platform to plan, budget, and audit the ward programme of works of the BBMP and those of other line departments.
We have been directing our experience and learning at the grassroots to feedback into policy change at the state and the city level to ensure the relevant integration of correction measures at city level. Further, to ensure an up-scaling of our intervention at the grassroots, given the experience and learning at the slum and ward level, we will, while still maintaining our grassroots presence, through partners, focus significantly on policy advocacy and campaigning at the state and the city level.