Milind Mhaske is the Founder Director of Praja Foundation. He has anchored Praja since 2010, scaling it up to make it a key player in transforming urban governance across India. Milind helped set up some of its key projects, such as report cards for ranking elected representatives and training programmes for elected representatives. He also helped launch Praja’s Delhi operations in 2014. He is a business management graduate from Mumbai University and has more than 18 years of experience in managing development sector projects.
In yet another session of Mumbai Charcha series, he talks about empowering the local governance and giving prominence to vision of neighbourhood.
Here are the experts:
Connection with Mumbai, the city of dreams
“Vada pav se zindagi se shuru hota,” says Mhaske adding that this justifies all the sayings of being a true Mumbaikar.
It is a wonderful city but a lot of things need to be fixed here such as roads, water, housing issues amongst others. What I have learned is that once you start to move out of the vicinity you realise such issues, until then everyone lives in bubble here.
Coming from a management background, it helped me to sort out step by step in comprehending the issues and how to implement solutions to each of them. All the ideas need consultation and groups of people to work on it. It is quite obvious that nothing would change overnight.
Similarlity between Mumbai’s Leaders & People
Leaders also are part of us, they don’t come from outside. So, they also understand our issues and sometimes they also face it themselves. However, I believe that they are concerned for doing larger things.
Whereas, citizens’ job is to register complaints. Mumbai has one of the best complaint redressal mechanism, he assured. Anyone can complain by calling on the toll number – 1916, MCGM website. Additionally, Mumbai guardian minister Aaditya Thackeray has started whatsapp chat bot for the same.
Apart from complaining, giving honest feedback to political leaders is also an essential task to be performed by the citizens. And digitization has simplified public utilities and participation.
Significance of Local Governance
The main issue here is that there shouldn’t be any governance superior than other. It is an illusion how we put in an order starting from central government, state government and local government. They are domains of the government and be treated equally.
In India, if we see, Mumbai is better managed than other cities. BMC does a lot than any other corporation. Though, if compared globally, Mumbai is not scoring high because of its structure. There is a limitation when it comes to giving adequate power to mayor and counselors to fulfil the mandate. This should be addressed and Mumbai shall be different place altogether.
If the state government wants to make a city better, they must ensure mayor’s office to be equally empowered on similar lines with CM’s office or PM’s office.
According to me, NGOs end up creating an intervention into the system after analyzing and recognizing an issue. Instead we must intervene and improve the policy. They caught get into experiment part. And forget about the actual reason of existence.
Vision for city
- As mentioned earlier, empowering of local governance is necessary for the betterment of the city
- Build accountability through citizens’ participation
- Vision for neighbourhood should be the priority.
- Streets need to be safer for travel. Less use of private vehicles and more usage of public transport.
- There should be more gardens and empty streets for children to play rather than clubs.
74th constitutional amendment act
“74th amendment is practically not feasible,” he expressed. Ward committee and area sabhas, are decades old ideas, which won’t work in today’s era.
Though we should look at spirit and principle behind it and the governance should also amend or adapt with the changing fast paced lifestyle. The citizens should can get involved through digital technology.