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Check this out, A New
apartment law on the cards
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FEEDback Check this out, a new apartment law on the cards Unfortunately, history of this continued greed & chaos finds its root in active support from local bureaucracy. I am convinced that continued literacy about in force apartment act provisions, RTI Activism & by heavens grace a central government implemented unified real estate regulator will bring the change that as consumers we need. Chaitanya Prabhu
Water tankers rule, no one to question There is a massive borewell drilling going on in and around Bellandur and Sarjarpur junction areas - where the remaining agricultural land/trees are being butchered down, flattened for those ultra luxurious hi-rise apartments. In the past 2 weeks, three borewells were drilled in the Bellandur area alone, within a 200 mtr radius -- drilling continued for 3-4 days continuous to reach the water tables. One of them is being used by a Tanker mafia to fill his tankers on 24-hr basis. New projects like SRR group opp Total Mall, Nitesh Estate, Purva, Salarpuria etc is currently in the process of drilling thousands of feet deep borewells to suck out the remaining water, whatever is left, to use for their mammoth construction work. The so called residents who buys this ultra premium apartments will be left at the mercy of the tankermafia to get their water. Absolutely no sanity in this development. The BWSSB is sleeping as usual , happily greased, and merrily approving more borewells to be sunk where 99.5% of existing bore wells had gone dry. The end game is those greedy land owners and developers will go filthy rich and their families
email firstname.lastname@example.org will ultimately retire in prosperous lands leaving a bunch of migrant / so called affluent people buying these flats on a drought stricken township to fend for their basic amenities themselves.
then, existing users are asked to register again. This means, BWSSB, do not have proper arrangement to monitor the data. It is imperative for them to rethink on this issue.
A time when ‘South End’ was really Bangalore’s southern end
Is it right to allow the commercial selling of water from residential areas? If the under water supply is good, they sell to tankers round the clock. Advantage? The dry neighbouring areas of houses & flats get faster supply of water. Disadvantage? The entire area is sucked till they become complete dry like a desert and every house in the vicinity is forced to depend on commercial water supply cartel. What is the solution? Is there no control over commercial water sellers from residential areas?
A P Suresh Babu
Rahul Sarode has sent this to me about his early days in Bangalore: I'm not as old as you people but would like to share my experience when I used to visit bangalore when I was 3, from a village 250km away from Hyderabad and there was no direct train, we had to go to Madras and get a train from there to Bangalore. The only places I feel which are same as it was 15 years ago are Banashankari, Bank colony and areas around it. I haven't seen other parts of Bangalore at that time. Maybe my mom remembers them, she is a Bangalorean. After reading all the comments the one thing that hasn't changed since 1950's is the barking dogs in every street. My comments : YOUNG OR OLD, ONE IS WELCOME TO RECORD WHAT ONE KNOWS ABOUT THE CITY. Hopefully all this will end up at least as footnotes in history of the city written by future generations. Palahalli Vishwanath:
BWSSB trying to register all the borewells in Bangalore There is nothing wrong in making registration mandatory for new borewell connections. But for existing users(I mean domestic), BWSSB charges Rs 50/- per month. They started charging Rs 50/PM only after verifying that the property has a borewll. This makes them automatically registered. Why
A costly trip to work Sir, I understand urban transport in other metros are comparatively cheaper. The other RTC’s are not disposing four year old buses, but they are utilising long haul buses after some time for city/ urban transport.As high speed driving not possible in Metros, old reconditioned buses can do the job. Autos are mostly using cheaper gas fuel, but hire charges are being worked out /I am told/ on the basis of petrol rates. Rationalisation of BMTC bus routes, connecting un connected areas, will be of help. Using mini buses at higher frequency in small /congested localities, may also help. For example Gandhibazar/ Basavangudi, is not connected to HOSUR ROAD,RING ROAD ,white field, where much activity is going on and workers have to go there.
Venkatesh Ananthachar Adya CITIZEN MATTERS 3
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As an apartment owner in the city, whom would you turn to if you discover that your builder has not registered the Deed of Declaration? Or that the apartment association has been wrongly registered? After decades, some redress may finally be on the anvil. 06-April-2013
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wners of an apartment complex in Sarjapur woke up one morning to find that their builder had claim to a large portion of the premises inside the complex which he was planning to turn into a commercial enterprise. Even worse, the builder was telling the court that they were not qualified to even contest the claim, as the owners' association had been registered wrongly. Instances such as these are not altogether too rare in Bengaluru, as highlighted in an earlier article in Citizen Matters. Prevailing ignorance about existing laws and the deliberate flouting of rules by builders and developers have led many owners to register their associations under the Karnataka Societies Act instead of KAOA, leading to serious ownership issues and governance challenges. But what is the KAOA and how apt is it to address issues arising in the wake of the apartment boom in Bangalore? Which is the authority that ensures that provisions of this law are actually adhered to? After decades of waiting, some definite answers may actually emerge. The Urban Development Department (UDD) of the Government of Karnataka is contemplating some longpending changes in the Karnataka Ownership Flats (Regulation of the Promotion of Construction, Sale, Management and Transfer) Act (or KOFA) and the Karnataka Apartment Ownership Act (or KAOA) - both of which collectively govern ownership, maintenance and transferability issues over the entire life-cycle of an apartment. KOFA covers the process where a builder/ developer constructs and sells the apartment, while its sister act, the KAOA defines a framework for
establishing the title, heritability and transferability of apartments. Both laws date back to the early 1970s and have not been amended or developed since, even though feedback based on practical experience evidently points to the need for revisiting these. The KOFA and KAOA were both almost entirely crafted on the lines of the relevant Maharashtra laws, but while the latter have gone through various clarification processes and amendments over time, the Karnataka laws have not been touched since enactment.
Background Apart from registration under inappropriate laws leading to faulty titles as referred to earlier, there are several other problems that arise from ambiguities in the KOFA and KAOA. For example, there is no uniform definition to be found that clearly distinguishes between a flat and an apartment. The KAOA is clearly for apartments, whereas KOFA refers to â€˜flats' and there is a common misconception that the two are different. In reality, KOFA as it exists now, applies to sales of apartments as well. Instances of deliberate cheating are also not entirely uncommon. There have been enough cases where buyers have found the sum of the undivided share of land in all the individual sale deeds exceeding the available area of the parcel of land on which the apartment complex is built, or where it is found
that some part of the land has been ceded to government authorities, keeping buyers completely in the dark. Whom do owners turn to in such cases? The greatest problem has arisen from non-implementation of existing provisions and the absence of effective regulatory authorities to impose rules. The registrar of co-operative societies, who is identified in the existing act as the â€˜Competent Authority,' but lacks clearly defined powers and functions, has failed to ensure compliance or resolve disputes arising in cases under these Acts. In March 2010, in
Directorate of Town and Country Planning
Email: email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org Phone: 080 2235 3976
6 CITIZEN MATTERS
response to a RTI application filed by RTI activist C N Kumar, the UDD responded saying that the matter was under the administrative control of the Department and they would take action to frame the rules for implementation of the Act. It also pointed out that the Ministry of Housing and Urban Development Affairs at the Centre had written to the State Government in January 2010 about a Model Apartment Ownership Bill that was drafted and had sought the suggestion and comments to make it more effective in the light of housing schemes across the country. Therefore the UDD felt that it would be appropriate to examine the Model Apartments Bill of the Government of India
before framing amendments or rules for implementation of the Karnataka Act. In an order passed on this, the Karnataka Information Commission directed the UDD to "ensure that the proposed amendments in the model bill are examined by the Government and after incorporation of the suggested amendments in the bill, if any, to the existing Act, the rules are framed with the assistance of Department of Parliamentary Affairs and Legislation at the earliest for effective implementation of the Act."
Current Moves Almost three years from the date of the KIC order, there finally seems
to be some action on the front. In January this year, in view of several applications by RTI activists over the years and representations filed by apartment owners to ensure proper implementation and desired amendments in KOFA/KAOA, the Urban Development Department (UDD) decided to form a Committee to look into the contradictions and loopholes in the two Acts and form a new comprehensive legislation that would address all issues. According to circulars published on the UDD website in late January, the Committee would be comprised of senior officials from the Department of Town Planning, BBMP, BDA, Department of Parliamentary Affairs, and Department of Co-operative Societies. Apart from weighing the recommendation of these departments and other civil society representatives, the Committee would also look into the central Model Apartment Ownership Bill sent to the state for consideration. Based on all recommendations, opinions and suggestions received, the UDD would frame a single new Act. The circular also specified that the task of drafting the new Act would be entrusted to one Panduranga M Naik, a lawyer, and he would be asked to submit the draft within a month. No further details on Mr. Naik, or the reason behind choosing him for the exercise, were shared. Muralidhar Rao, member of civic advocacy group Praja RAAG and a key crusader in this cause, shares that at a subsequent meeting convened by the Directorate of Town and Country Planning (DTCP), it was mentioned that the lawyer would be preparing his draft as an independent exercise and that would not be shared or discussed with the Directorate or any other groups. Since formation, the Committee
CITIZEN MATTERS 7
City news has held several rounds of meeting, inviting representatives from civil society who have in the past highlighted the real problems arising from the lacunae in existing rules and non-compliance. The chief of the Bangalore chapter of the Confederation of Real Estate Developers' Associations of India (CREDAI) has also been a part of these consultations. Ajit N Naik, a retired bank officer who lives in a Mantri apartment on Bannerghata Road and has long been pushing for amendments in apartment laws, was one of the individuals to have attended the first of these meetings in end-January on invitation from the UDD; he says that the Committee circulated a copy of the Model Apartment Act of Central Government received by them at the meeting. They also circulated a letter received by the government from the Housing Department of Central Government seeking information on the status of implementation of Apartment Act in the state and further suggestions if any for improving the central Model Apartment Act.
Recommendations On the 7th of March, Sanjay Vijayaraghavan, a citizen who has worked extensively on researching apartment laws and come up with a detailed report on â€˜Laws governing Apartment ownership in Karnataka' and related issues under the aegis of civic advocacy group Praja RAAG, made his recommendations to the Director of Town and Country Planning in a detailed letter. Vijayaraghavan is an engineer by profession and is the author of the Citizen Matters article referred to earlier. Some of the key suggestions he made to the Department were as follows: Ensure that specifications of details about the apartment, limited 8 CITIZEN MATTERS
common areas and common areas including all facilities such as gym, pool, STP, WTP, pumps, fire protection systems etc. are provided before the sale deed is signed and registered, and any advance is paid by the buyer. Appoint a competent regulatory authority to ensure compliance and resolve disputes under the legislation. Make KAOA the only law under which apartment societies may be registered in Karnataka and remove ambiguities in KOFA (Section 10) that refer to possibilities of forming apartments as co-operatives and companies. Make it mandatory for builders/ promoters of apartments under construction to submit the property under KAOA by filing a Deed of Declaration; the registrar's office should strictly enforce this requirement. Determine percentage ownership of undivided share of land and common areas based on
the ratio of area of the apartment to the total area of all apartments. For apartments sold but not registered correctly under KAOA either due to ignorance or blatant miscommunication by builders and developers - provide measures by which these may be converted to â€˜compliant properties' within a reasonable time frame after amendments are passed. Ensure strict penalties for non-compliance with any of the provisions. Several other points were raised in the letter that also contained a comparison with the Central Model Law, highlighting its suitability to Karnataka and the relative merits/ de-merits of certain provisions in it.
Latest developments On 11th March 2013, the Department of Town Planning convened a meeting which, apart from officials of the said Committee, was attended by Muralidhar Rao, Ajit Naik, and Anil Naik, CEO of
city news another meeting on 4th April, asking all parties present in the earlier meetings to attend with â€˜a consolidated report' based on interactions so far and documents and recommendations made by the parties. On calls to the Directorate, however, the magazine was told that the Director, Mr. S.S. Topagi is on leave till April 4, which throws some cloud over the proposed meet.
Bengaluru's gated communities: Whose baby?
CREDAI, Bangalore. The meeting discussed many of the loopholes and recommendations outlined in Vijayaraghavan's letter, particularly the need for a new empowered regulatory authority in view of the profusion of multi-storied apartment complexes. At a subsequent meeting between the CEO of CREDAI and Praja representatives Sanjay Vijayaraghavan and Ajit Naik on the 26th of March, these points were re-iterated. The civic group members suggested that CREDAI should take the onus of informing all its members about the correct procedures stipulated by law and instruct them to follow these. However, several attempts by Citizen Matters to contact the CREDAI chief to know if any steps have been initiated in this regard went unanswered. Meanwhile, Citizen Matters has obtained a copy of an email in which the Director of Town and Country Planning has convened
Curiously, in all the discussions so far, no mention has been made of gated communities. Bengaluru has several of these, and many more coming up; these are huge residential complexes mostly offering villas and in some cases a mix of villas and multi-storeyed apartments. As pointed out in an earlier article, any residential development exceeding 20,000 square metres in area, is bound by the Comprehensive Development Plan 2015 to relinquish a proportion of its area to public use. Currently, such real estate development takes place with individual sanctions from the BMRDA or BDA, but the developer is mandated to hand over all open areas such as roads and park to the government authorities, whereas in practice, the owner associations continue to devote time and resources for the operations and upkeep of common facilities in these areas. Moreover, owners of the homes in these communities typically pay the builder the cost of the roads and parks and common amenities in the complex as part of their sale agreements for the individual homes purchased by them. There is very little clarity on ownership of these and a pressing need to specify what governs the title, maintenance and transferability of these areas. Chaithanya Samarpan, for
instance, is a gated community of 200+ villas on 32 acres off the Whitefield Hoskote Road near Kadugodi. The management committee members found out to their surprise that the law required the builder to relinquish all common parks and roads to the BDA, even though homeowners had paid for the construction costs. To add to the confusion, the association was registered under the societies act, even though KAOA would have been more suitable to address such issues, had this law included gated communities within its ambit. Further, this raises the question are gated communities really so different from mammoth apartment complexes which are almost fashioned as townships and have thousands of apartments developed in successive stages? Consider Prestige Shantiniketan, developed over 105 acres and with over 3000 apartments, proposed restaurants, coffee shops and such amenities. If the new Act framed can extend to such developments, can it not bring gated communities within its ambit? Alternatively, as Vijayaraghavan suggests in his letter to the town planning authorities, "It may be better to specify that the development (for huge apartment complexes) follow a layout model, consisting of common roads, and separate apartments, each within their own undivided share of land." Facilities like pool, gym, clubhouse, where they exist, could come under an umbrella organization, but that, too, has to be clearly provided for by legislation and with defined roles, functions and regulations. Such provision, if incorporated in the new Act, could perhaps then also govern gated communities, though there is no evidence as yet of any deliberation on that front.
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Conversations POLITICS AND REFORM
Bangalore could change the course of politics in India: JP In a candid conversation, Lok Satta party leader Jayaprakash Narayan, as he shares his thoughts on the chances for his candidates in the Karnataka elections, as well as for an overall reform movement in Indian politics.
he Lok Satta party headed by Jayaprakash Narayan is flexing its muscles in Bangalore as the state gets ready for elections in May. The party has named 15 candidates for MLA elections in the state, including a second list that was released on March 27th. Nine are contesting in Bangalore city itself, and the rest from other parts of Karnataka. Lok Satta has a reformist positioning in the Indian political sphere. It supports clean governance, setting up of a strong Lokpal, liberalising agriculture, closing of populist subsidies, FDI in retail, and so forth. Jayaprakash Narayan, 57, the charismatic leader who is more widely known in Andhra Pradesh than Karnataka, is the sole MLA of the party anywhere in the country. He ran and won his seat in AP assembly elections from Kukatpally in Hyderabad. In AP, Tamilnadu and Maharashtra, there are a handful of local representatives (in municipal councils and panchayats) of the party. Given the cynicism around the state of politics in India, many consider the chances of winning for candidates from lesser known parties, even if they have strong credentials, to be very low. However, in the past few years, India, and urban India in particular has seen a surge of demand in the streets from a largely frustrated young citizenry. There has been an outpouring of protests around the country on several counts. The Delhi 10 CITIZEN MATTERS
gang-rape incident was the most recent trigger. Before that there was a surge of protests all over the country for a Lokpal bill to fight rampant corruption. In Bangalore itself, Lok Satta party volunteers were originally involved in sparking off Saaku, an anticorruption movement in the city that peaked during the support campaign for Justice Santosh Hegde. During the last year of his tenure as Lokayukta, he had exposed the BJP government's ministers including former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa. Many volunteers who were part of the India Against Corruption (IAC) group that campaigned for the Lokpal bill in the city during Anna Hazare's fast in New Delhi were also Lok Satta party cadres. Bangalore quickly emerged during this time as one of the key cities that had substantial support among its elite populations for deeper governance reform in the country. It is in this climate that Bengaluru's Lok Satta party candidates, most of them reasonably well known in their neighbourhoods and the city, are running for MLA seats this year. Jayaprakash Narayan or JP as he is called has been moved by the upsurge in Bangalore and says it has the most cosmopolitan electorate in the country. "Bangaloreans are more likely to transcend old loyalties and parochial power that mainline parties have," he says in this exclusive interview.
Conversations Jayaprakash Narayan. Pic: Loksattaparty.org
Women tend to be more open to voting for change. Women and youth definitely helped us win the MLA seat from Kukatpally. So men are concerned about who, and women are concerned about what.
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Conversations JP himself is no mean achiever in public life. He is a doctor by training, and a former IAS officer with a long track record of accomplishments. He is well known for his campaign and role in bringing electoral reforms to India in 2002 that made disclosures by candidates running for office mandatory. Prior to founding Lok Satta as a political party, he founded it as a movement for better governance in Andhra Pradesh. Lok Satta's work on electricity reforms became visible as it took over and operated four power distribution stations in AP to demonstrate several reform measures they had advocated. As the campaigns in Bengaluru have begun to peak, Subramaniam Vincent caught up with JP for a 40-minute conversation over the telephone. He spoke from Hyderabad. He was passionate, thoughtful, clear and yet restrained. Excerpts. Tell voters what the Lok Satta party has done for Bangalore and Karnataka that legitimises its claim that it is ready to fight big electoral races such as MLA elections.The Lok Satta party has already contributed to Bangalore, in three areas. First, through Ashwin Mahesh, whose work on transportation and traffic control for Bangalore is remarkable, especially for its focus on strengthening public departments. He has also been leading the water management efforts, including lake revival. Second, it has covered a lot of ground in waste segregation and management: N S Ramakanth and Meenakshi Bharath have been doing stellar work in this area. This is part of our focus on urban planning. Third is the Saaku movement itself. Lok Satta volunteers were at the core of triggering off that movement in Bangalore earlier, with an initial focus on safeguarding the institution of the Lokayukta. The IAC happened immediately and naturally after that. More broadly, Lok Satta members are at the core of virtually all the civil societyled changes in the city. That is a very good thing. Politics and development should be strongly connected, and the example of our Bangalore party unit is a very good one in this regard. Some voters think that too often in elections, people run to make statements, satisfy their egos, etc., even
Jayaprakash Narayan. Pic: Loksattaparty.org
though chances of winning are considered slim. This has happened to parliamentary races before. What will you say to Bangalore voters this month who worry that Lok Satta candidates 'might not win'? How should citizens think about 'winnability'? You have hit the nail on the head. Winnability does seem to dominate during elections. And with our first past the post system (FPTP), winning for new candidates is a challenge. Our political parties - when you talk to individual politicians -- are themselves not so terrible. Many of them also want the right candidates to run, but they are concerned about winnability. But when people worry about new candidates not being winnable they should look at the following. Congress has won in Karnataka, the state is still in a mess. BJP has also won, that is they are winnable too, and they have also not fixed the mess in the state. Likewise with JD(S). So it is not as if the winners of the past have been able to bring about serious reforms or bring down corruption. Lok Satta candidates, even though they are few in number and running from Bangalore, offer a genuine alternative. Moreover, Bangalore city offers a unique opportunity. It has the most cosmopolitan electorate
Parties can articulate an agenda, they have organisational memory which they can bring into the Assembly even if they have only one or a few seats in the legislature. Single independent candidates cannot do that.
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in the country. Voters in Bangalore are more likely to transcend old loyalties and parochial power that mainline parties have. Secondly, because of the way Karnataka politics has gone, there are now many factions and hence fragmentation of votes. There is an opportunity for Bangaloreans to vote with their heart for candidates with an excellent track record. There is also a difference between unattached independent candidates who do not belong to parties and party-backed candidates. Parties can articulate an agenda, they have organisational memory which they can bring into the Assembly even if they have only one or a few seats in the legislature. Single independent candidates cannot do that. You have been the single MLA for Lok Satta in AP. What are your hopes for the next AP election (2014)? Being a single MLA in the assembly is not such a bad thing. We have shown that it is still possible to influence significant public policy outcomes. We feel 15-20% of the electorate certainly wants change. But there are systemic compulsions in India because of which even if you have good support base, and strong credibility, conversion to votes is not easy. We are considering issue-based alliances for the AP 2014 elections. If there is an iron clad guarantee on specific issues from a bigger political party in constituencies where we are strong, we may transfer our support to them. These are issues on which we will seek issue base alliances: Full decentralisation of power to local government at the ward and panchayat level. Services guarantee law, with compensation to
citizens when there is delay or denial Radical change in the power sector Agricultural reforms - liberalisation of agriculture, not merely giving short term freebies, but long term benefits Anti-Corruption agenda - A Lokayukta for AP with real independent power Education and Healthcare reform. We currently have strong presence in 80 constituencies in AP, and there are around 20-25 people who have been working hard in these areas for the people. They may become the MLA candidates for LS in 2014. What significant outcomes have you been able to influence as MLA, even as a lone representative in the AP assembly? There are several concrete outcomes. There is a robust Societies Act in use in AP. The Congress party wanted to amend it in a way that would bring in far more controls. The amendment was unconstitutional according to me. I have stood against this and held it up for the past four years in the legislature and have got the rest of the opposition to stand against it as well. The Congress could have passed it by brute force and has not because of the opposition I have led. Next is the Citizen Services Delivery Guarantee bill. While this is not enacted yet, there has been debate on the bill and the rules the government needs to put in place for it to function effectively. This has already resulted in real action on the ground, even without the bill being passed. There is a now a Lokayukta bill pending in the AP assembly. This is also my party's work and we have pushed for it. It is not enacted yet, but we will continue to push for it. In the 2010 elections in AP, Lok Satta had a well articulated vision with many reform points that the Congress party copied from us. Our party has a lot of credibility in the state in arguing its points and other parties have drawn from us whenever they want. That is also impact. Your manifesto makes a promise that implies that 12-hour three-phase power supply in rural Karnataka in possible. How? It is possible. First we must separate rural electricity feeders from agriculture feeders. Secondly every consumer of electricity, even a farmer who gets free power has to be metered. Long back, when Lok Satta was an NGO, we took over four distribution stations and ran it for the AP government. We brought about an 18% reduction in line losses from 27% to 9%. These are all audited figures, publicly available. There are around 9.75 lakh transformers in the AP 06-April-2013
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Conversations power system. 5-7% of these usually fail each year and when taken down for maintenance, it takes several days for them to come back online. Lok Satta showed that we can spend a few hundred rupees to fix these transformers and bring them back online much sooner which helps in running the power system with less outages. Separating agricultural power from the rest of rural power itself can ensure that 12 hour supply is possible. This provides a boost to SMEs in rural areas because otherwise they have to come to the cities. Making more rural power available will boost rural investment and employment, and cut back on migration to the cities. Gujarat is the best example for all this. By taking this approach they have already managed 24-hour singlephase power in all of rural Gujarat. So it is possible to promise and deliver 12-hour single-phase power in rural Karnataka. An opposing candidate from some mainstream party is going to promise very low-cost housing or some freebie to low-income citizens in his constituency. Are you going to compete with that? People are used to a patronage relationship with their MLAs, you know this. Yes, Promises will be made. After all elections are all about public money. Lok Satta candidates will explain an alternative vision. Our option is to explain to people that short term freebies are not making problems go away. Our plan also is go to educated voters and youth, and especially women to get their backing. We are hearing this view from several people that women are supporting new candidates who stand for change, more than men. Why do you think this is so? This is an important question and it must be studied. I can only hazard a guess. Ultimately men see these battles as power games. Patriarchy, caste, linguistic and regional affiliations are above all about power won over identity and parochial loyalties. Men who already have power as part of patriarchy become concerned about who will win. Once issues are boxed into identity politics like the Cauvery issue between TN and Karnataka, there is no coming out. Women on the other hand do not have power; they tend to be concerned about survival, and what will happen to family, prices, schooling of their children, etc. So they tend to be more open to voting for change. Women and youth definitely helped us win the MLA seat from Kukatpally. So men are concerned about who, and women are concerned about what. The first-past-the-post system voting system in India presents serious challenges to new parties. Comment on the chances in the Karnataka elections 14 CITIZEN MATTERS
for your Bangalore MLA candidates. Yes, FPTP for India is a huge challenge. But I have some good news to report here. Look at India's most influential states for parliamentary seats: UP, Bihar, Bengal, TN, Maharashtra and AP. Except AP (even there, Congress is shaking), in none of these states has the BJP or the Congress been able to win on their own. Together these states contribute 65% of Lok Sabha's seats. This is because of the FPTP system; it has already caused serious problems for these parties. In UP for example, Rahul Gandhi invested a substantial amount of time and strategy. See the results though. Samajwadi Party got 3.7% more vote share and got 127 more seats in the last elections. Even though Congress got 3% more vote share, it got only 6 more seats. In Maharashtra, Congress cannot come to power on its own either. The FPTP system is hurting the national parties in the most influential states. But leaders of parties should be alive to this problem, it cannot be that they do not understand all this. Parties have not taken a hard look at this problem till now. The reality is that leaders do not have time. They are mostly caught up in day-to-day running of the party and the problems that keep emerging. But this is changing now.
The Congress Party has set up a high-powered committee under Ambika Soni, with Veerappa Moily, Mani Shankar Aiyyar, and others to look at reviewing FPTP. There is discussion on this issue also within the BJP at a mid-level. Left parties are already on board to change the FPTP system. What is interesting is that this does not require a constitutional amendment or even a change in the law. It is just a rule being used to run our elections. If the parties agree, the rule can be changed. Comment on what you would like the FPTP system changed to. You have advocated proportional representation? Does that also mean you will support multiple representatives per constituency? As a winner-takes-all system, FPTP overweights the views of the winner and ignores all the others. This is true even if the winner himself gets only 15% of the vote, as we saw in one recent case. A proportionate system would correct this, and give voice to a greater diversity of views. This is all the more important when, as in India today, we are seeing increasing fracture of the vote among different parties. Ideally, an elected representative even in a single-member constituency should represent 50% of the voters at least. That's clearly not the case today; in fact it is the exception. A number of solutions, including multi-member constituencies, run-offs and other options can be considered. Once we accept that FPTP is hindering broad
representation of public opinion in elected houses, a lot of other things will become possible. It has taken many decades for parties to come to this realisation. Now we must act on this, and strengthen democracy by a new system with greater inclusion of voices and views. (Response to this question alone was received in writing, after the interview.) You mentioned Arvind Kejriwal. What happened between Aam Aadmi Party and Lok Satta that they could not come together? There are genuine issues we have to iron out. One is the whole approach AAP has about good and evil. An approach that says one side is always good and the other is always evil is not right in a democracy. I have always held that our political parties are not evil and they cannot be blamed for everything that is wrong in India. Yes, our parties have bungled, no doubt. We have to recognise the historical process we have gone through as a nation. Federalism, states, peaceful transfer of power, and universal adult franchise have all come to stay in the country, and our political parties have seen through this. So it is not right for AAP to make this contest one about good and evil. The good and evil approach also caused us to lose an opportunity earlier. Take the Lokpal bill. In 2011, the bill that went to Parliament was 80 per cent of the bill "we" wanted. But Hazare and IAC did plenty of grandstanding that it could either be 100 per cent or zero. Media also made it into a big deal. In such a negative climate for the government's bill, the path became clear for other parties to use the ruse of 'states rights' to kill the Lokayukta provision. So now, while the Lokpal bill has Lokpal provisions, mandatory Lokayuktas for all the states is gone from it. But 80 percent of corruption impacting people is at the state level, not central. We have lost the chance for getting that option through the central bill. We all want an ethical india. But the fight against corruption alone can only be a minimum qualification for politics, it is not the maximum. There needs to be more. AAP, for instance, does not support our positions on FDI in retail, and also on power sector reforms. Having said this, our differences need not be blown out of proportion in the media. In a democracy, there is always a need for a spirit of accommodation. We have not written off working together.
Subramaniam Vincent is co-founder and editor at Citizen Matters. Disclosure: Ashwin Mahesh, Lok Satta candidate in the Karnataka MLA elections this year, is a director at Oorvani Media, the firm that publishes Citizen Matters and India Together. 06-April-2013
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City news ON THE RIGHT TRACK
Ward Committee Rules give more power to citizens Citizens can now approach the Ward Committees in case of litter or uncleared garbage.
ith the expected implementation of new Ward Committee Bye-laws/Rules drafted by the BBMP, the citizens can now question the ward committees on litter or garbage in their ward. The best part is, they can even move court if the complaints to the ward committee or the corporator do not solve the problem. The draft of the Byelaws/Rules for Ward Committees has been sent to the state government for approval. The final push for the formation of ward committees had come as a result of the unmanageable garbage problem in the city, hence the rules specific to garbage issue were framed in the draft. Section 4(i) of the draft Karnataka Municipal Corporations (Ward Committee) Bye-laws/Rules 2013 says that citizens can approach ward committees in case of littering or uncleared garbage. "Now complaints related to garbage will remain within the ward. The objective of this rule is to resolve the garbage issue locally, at ward level," says N Madhaiah, Legal Advisor at BBMP. Madhaiah has been responsible for framing the Rules on ward committees. As per Section 4(i), citizens can further approach the court if garbage is not cleared inspite of complaints to the corporator and the ward committee. 16 CITIZEN MATTERS
Duties of the Ward Committee The draft defines the duties of the ward committee as follows: Preparing and submitting Ward Development Scheme to the corporation Ensuring proper utilisation of funds allotted to the ward Approving the list of beneficiaries submitted by the Area Sabhas, for beneficiary-oriented schemes of the BBMP Supervising the implementation of BBMP schemes and programmes in the ward Ensuring water supply and sewerage system maintenance in the ward Ensuring maintenance of streetlights, parks, open spaces and green area in the ward Ensuring afforestation and implementation of RWH schemes Mobilising voluntary donations for the ward development Informing the authority in case of encroachments However, the rule makes no mention of the time that ward committees or corporators will be given, before citizens can go to court. The new Rules were formed after some discussions between corporators and the Legal Cell at BBMP, about whether Rules or Byelaws need to be framed to empower
the ward committee. Ward committees are constituted as per section 13H of the Karnataka Municipal Corporations (KMC) Act, 2011. As per the draft, the functions of ward committees are the same as those in the KMC Act, 2011. However, the draft Rules define additional aspects
like ‘procedure for transaction of business', ‘preparation of agenda' for meetings, and the ‘functions of the Secretary' of the committee. The document is labelled the Karnataka Municipal Corporations (Ward Committee) Bye-laws/Rules 2013, as if both ‘Bye-laws' and ‘Rules' are the same. Madhaiah clarifies that these are in fact Rules, and not Byelaws. In recent Council meetings, corporators had discussed whether the BBMP should frame Rules or Bye-laws. "Corporators have decided that we form ‘Rules' rather than ‘Byelaws,' since Rules (under the state KMC Act) are legally more binding and powerful than Bye-laws. Also in forming municipal Bye-laws we cover only Bengaluru, while Rules are applicable to all corporations across the state" says Madhaiah. He says that the government will call objections from other corporations before making the Rules applicable for them.
Since these are Rules and not Bye-laws, the draft will be submitted directly to the state government for approval. As the code of conduct is already in place due to the election, the BBMP has to take permission from the Election Commission to submit the draft for government approval. Already the draft has been sent to the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), Karnataka, on March 26th. The government is expected to give approval within 15 days.
What do the new Rules say The Rules on ‘procedure for transaction of business' defines the required strength for each meeting. It says that the term of the committee members would be co-terminus with that of the corporator, that meetings should have a mandatory seven-day notice and should be held in ward office premises. The rest of this section is the same as section 13H of the earlier KMC Act, 2011.
Rules on ‘preparation of agenda' for meetings include the protocols that the Secretary of the ward committee needs to follow in preparing the meeting agenda. Meetings should be held at least once a month. The BBMP Commissioner should keep the Secretary informed on the decisions of the Standing Committees, decisions/ resolutions of the Council, ward-wise budgetary allocation made by the corporation or any of the Standing Committees, copy of the ward maps and details of corporation properties wardwise.
Shamala Kittane is a freelance writer and avid cyclist.
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Features MIGRATORY BIRDS
Rosy Pastorâ€™s early arrival points to climate change Since 2011, the Rosy Pastor has arrived in Bangalore increasingly earlier than normal. This birdâ€™s varied migration pattern correlates to changing climate.
ver the past three years, the Rosy Pastor (Madhusarika in Kannada) a migratory bird from Europe has chosen to enter Bangalore earlier than the previous years. For instance, in 2011, bird watchers in Bangalore reported spotting the species in early March. Again last year, the bird was reported to be spotted by mid February. Thereafter, in 2013, the bird made an appearance by mid January in Bangalore. Considering the difference in timings, the avian's early appearance could be linked to the impact of climate change on bird migration patterns. A recent article in Deccan Herald stated that flowering patterns go haywire with reference to the early flowering and fruit bearing of certain trees like flame of the forest, mango, etc. This fact beckons our attention to erratic migration patterns of certain birds too due to climate change in the city. Rosy Pastors, now visible in various parts of the city, in large flocks since late last month are unique. They are among the few avian species which migrate from the east to the west, rather than in the usual
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north to south direction. The main reasons for the exceptional east-west migration is the overlapping of breeding grounds of the Rosy Pastor with those of the migratory locusts, whose nymphs and hoppers serve as food for families of Pastors, who nest and breed on stony hillsides in south-east Europe (west of Hungary). Baby Pastors are almost exclusively brought up on a diet of locusts. Normally, both locusts and pastors breed here during May and June. Their feeding grounds, on the other hand, are located in east and west Asia, Pakistan and India. Young Pastors are forced to leave their breeding abodes rather early so they reach their distant feeding grounds in time. They remain in their nesting and breeding grounds for only three months, and are winging their way for nine months.
Habitat, Breeding and other Characteristics The Rosy Pastor (Sturnus roseus) gets its name due to its peculiar habit of looking down like a pastor (priest) with his rich robes to castigate you for some wrongdoing. Otherwise, it is the size of a common Myna but with a rose coloured chest and a black hooded head. The Rosy Pastors' lunatic staring eyes resemble those of many of their clan members, namely, the starlings or Mynas. They have a gelled recumbent crest, which is raised when they are madly in love.
The Rosy Pastors are most abundantly found in north-western India and diminish towards the Deccan. It is difficult to differentiate between the juvenile male and female birds, but as they reach adulthood, the male acquires a rosy pink colour while the female remains duller and browner. As soon as the chicks are strong, they join the adults and enter the north-western part of the Indian sub-continent in August. The flocks then trickle down to Gujarat in September-October and gradually to more southern destinations in the Deccan and Peninsula and then they start their return journey in
March and April. Rosy Pastors breed in south-eastern Europe and south-western Asia, including West Asia and Asia Minor and fly into India to feed in huge swarms all over the Deccan and Peninsula. Large colonies of these migratory birds set up home in rocky grounds or old ruins, untidily stuffing holes with grass and twigs. Five or six pale bluish eggs are laid, the female incubates for 10 or 11 days, and the chicks, stuffed with locust protein, fly out between a fortnight and three weeks later - an ideal way to raise a family. Only one brood is raised every year. The Rosy Pastors sing and call, quiver with excitement and shake their wings, but then suddenly wing off to a nearby bare-leafed tree, laden with figs. These birds roost with parakeets, mynahs and pigeons for the night. Otherwise, they are popular for their ability to sing a strange jazz composition; melodious, yet sometimes harsh and improvisational with incessant chittering and squeaking. So much so, that it sometimes reminds one of squeakywheeled children's toys being pushed back and forth vigorously en masse. The chittering would grow in intensity, and then suddenly for no apparent reason, stop. Occasionally the whole flock tends to take off and swirl swiftly around the place. Like most of their clan, they are aggressive and cocky. Rosy Pastors are known to be belligerent, and will not tolerate other avian company on fruit trees that they consider their property even if they are satiated gastronomically. While on their journey back home to Europe, the Rosy Pastors are fat and their flesh acquires an exceptional flavour owing to a diet of ripe grain and sweet fruit. As adults, the birds have a more eclectic diet. Apart from locusts and other insects, they love figs, mulberries, ripe neem berries, and grapes, which make them unpopular with vineyard owners. They also inflict huge damage on fields of jowar and bajra and in fact also go under the alias of Jowari bird. They also love the nectar of the blooms of the silk cotton and coral trees and are so instrumental in cross-pollination of these. This makes their flesh an epicurean delicacy and therefore large numbers of Rosy Pastors are slaughtered in northern India and Pakistan.
Antony P U is a professor of Zoology at Christ University and specializes in Ornithology.
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FILMS, FUNDING AND CHANGE
You can pre-order Lucia from Citizen M One year ago, actordirector Pawan Kumar, 30, announced that he was tired of searching for a producer for his Kannada script ‘Lucia’. Today, he has finished his film with investment from his fans and is running a crowdfunding campaign for the film’s distribution. 20 CITIZEN MATTERS
fter crowdfunding his Kannada film Lucia’s production by raising Rs.51 lakhs through Facebook fans and others, Pawan Kumar of Lifeu Ishtene fame has finished the production and released the trailer as well as songs. What about the film’s release? Kumar, 30, launched an even more ambitious crowd fundraising campaign this year. He is now raising money to distribute the film in the mass market - theatres and multiplexes - and is trying to reach between Rs.50L and several crores. “We raised Rs.51 lakhs in February 2012 for shooting and production. 70% of the money came in as investment and the rest as 'pre-order’ ticket sales. Now we
have started crowdsourcing again for distribution only. We have been able to finish the film successfully with what we raised for production”, says Kumar. Kumar is doing this by asking people to pre-order his film for a streaming view online at HomeTalkies.com. He has set preorder prices from Rs.500 all the way to Rs.5000, with each level coming with it’s own set of benefits thrown in. In return for pre-ordering, he will convert each buyer into an online distributor for the film. Pre-orderers will receive a unique coded link for the film’s screening when the buyers pay. When the film releases online, in addition to seeing the film
Matters now themselves, the buyers can circulate this unique link through their own social network. For everyone who buys a screening of the film through such a link, the owner of the link (the person who did the pre-order) gets a percentage as fee for having promoted the sale. Kumar points out that his approach is not the same as other crowdfunding platforms. “What we are doing with pre-orders as a method to crowdfund is actually better than what western countries are doing. If you look at www. kickstarter.com, which is the most popular crowdfunding site, their website allows people to put in money into projects and in return they get mentions or T-shirts or
DVD's. Nothing more. So it’s more like charity”, says Kumar. On the other hand, Kumar says that since filmmaking is a business, there is no need for anyone to do any charity. If people are going to crowdfund this project, they should get something in return, he says, laying out his principle. “Hence we created the tool of online distribution. So anyone who pre-orders Lucia with the intention of crowdfunding will not only get to watch the film and also own some freebies, but will also get the tool to earn the money back. We felt this would be a fair deal”, he says. Lucia has received 445 preorders so far, according to Kumar. “Many are finding it a bit difficult to understand how online distribution works. So every week we are trying our best to communicate the same. This concept being quite ahead of its time, I guess it will take some time for everyone to understand how it works”, is what Kumar offers by way of assessment right now. For more on how pre-ordering works, see HomeTalkies' explanation at http://www.hometalkies.com/ how-it-works/
A journey The story of Lucia is a fascinating one in its own right. It began with Kumar’s frustration in early 2012 that no one in the Kannada film industry would fund his script, even though he had shown that he was a successful film director. “I haven't found a single ‘adjective' star to give me 3 hours of his time to hear the script out! And all of them are now announcing their new 'remake' films. I would not have reacted this way if they had heard the story and then rejected
it. It feels bad because no one even wants to hear it out, they simply want to pick up remakes!” wrote Kumar in an article in Citizen Matters that followed post on his blog. “An original film writer in Kannada hardly gets paid! Sometimes if he is lucky, he can make up to a lakh or a little above that. That's how much a Kannada producer thinks a script writer deserves. However, the same producer pays up to 10-15 lakh (sometimes a lot more) to buy the remake rights of a film from another language”, he wrote. Knowing that he was taking on the top guns in Kannada filmdom, Kumar pointed out how things were working and that he stood for change. “In other language industries, a writer is funded even before he starts writing. Here our (Kannada) producers think that writing doesn't require any money. Remember it's the same producers who pay through their nose to buy the content written in another language”, he said boldly. The rest followed from there. His fans reacted to his appeal and invested in Lucia. He finished the film and released the trailer earlier this year. Citizen Matters has signed on as online media partner to promote Lucia pre-orders with the release of this article. You can pre-order the film through the Lucia player box in Citizen Matters just as you can do on Hometalkies.com directly. For more on how pre-ordering works, see HomeTalkies explanation at http:// www.hometalkies.com/how-itworks/
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n early January, an NGO that focuses on reuse and recycling of clothes sent out an urgent appeal to people on their mailing list to contribute woollens and blankets for homeless people who were suffering the harshness of a prolonged winter. What would most of us do, on receiving such an email? Possibly spare a thought for these poor people and then mark the mail unread with the intention of doing something about it at the earliest opportunity, or perhaps gather our spare blankets and woollens and set off in search of a collection point. That spans the spectrum of the least and the most that one can do. Right? Apparently not. A group of women (about five of them) from a housing complex in Koramangala decided to do more than just think and collect clothes. Having already concluded one round of collections and dispatch, they decided to get together and start preparing quilts for the poor and then keep sending batches of them to other NGOs as well as orphanages. One of the women (who wanted to remain anonymous) visited various fabric and clothing stores in the vicinity and asked if they had some spare cloth material that they could donate - material that could not be sold either because of an odd shape, size or discolouration. But a strict condition was that the pieces had to be clean and intact with no tears or gashes. Most of these retailers were quite willing to hand over their unsellable pieces of cloth. The woman was able to gather enough material to get started on a couple of quilts, including the filling for the quilt. The next bit was a little more tricky. None of the women had ever made a quilt before! So while they were now armed with sufficient material, they had no idea how 22 CITIZEN MATTERS
JOY OF GIVING
These women weave warmth
An email from an NGO changed the routine of the fiv homeless, by collecting unusable cloth from various v to get started. Then one of them remembered a friend who might have done something similar before and requested her to guide them. The friend agreed to come in and show them how to make the patchwork outer layer of the quilt. Using her advice, as well as a bit of
their own ingenuity, the women proceeded to make five quilts in about five sittings from the first batch of material. These quilts were pretty as well as warm, as was the feeling in the hearts of the women as they packed them up for dispatch. This was just the start. The
Features Never having done quilts before, they learnt everything from scratch, just to do something that will earn them only goodwill, nothing more
h into lives of strangers
ve women who went on to prepare quilts for the vendors. women, three of them being senior citizens, continue to meet every week in their housing complex clubhouse, and continue to weave warmth into the lives of strangers, seeming to have discovered a new raison d'etre. Of course, the other side of the coin of this altruism is
their gain in the form of community participation, occupation and the joy of giving. The day I went to observe the activity, it was their seventh session. The ladies spent nearly 30 minutes discussing better fillings for the quilts. A quilt is not effective unless
it has the right filling. The filling has to provide warmth and at the same time, it cannot be so thick as to make the quilt impossible to stitch by hand. (Yes, all the quilts they made were stitched by hand!) The filling issue was sorted out by selecting a double layer of material as a filler, rather than cotton wool or bits of cloth which could bunch up. The women brought out the pieces that they had been stitching at home. Then there was a lot of activity around measuring the stitched pieces and aligning them. As always, what made this activity most appealing was the well-thought out process and methods employed. "Since there are many of us, we need to plan and divide the work in a way that is most efficient", said one of them. While the women meet for about one and a half hour every week, they continue to stitch pieces even at home. They come together for the insertion of the filling and final stitching of the sides and the lines of stitching that run across in the middle to keep the filling in place. Nothing is done haphazardly; the final result is good-looking as well as functional. Now they even invite experts in quilt-making, whom they actively seek out through their networks, to gain skill and expertise in an activity that is not earning them anything other than goodwill from people that they do not know.
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Features NATURE FEATURE
Bird-beaks reveal eating habit! Nature has designed beaks of various shapes and styles to enable the birds to eat what they are used to.
hen we watch birds, one of the fun things to do is to observe them and trying to figure out what they are likely to eat. How, you may ask, can one find out what a bird is likely to eat, by looking at it? The
answer is, look at the bird's beak! Bird's beaks come in different shapes and sizes, and each is designed to help the bird get the kind of food that it is used to. All predatory birds (raptors)
have sharp hooked beaks that help them tear up the flesh of their prey, which could be other birds, rodents or snakes. Here's an Oriental Honey Buzzard, showing the shape of the beak:
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Features Some birds dive and fish in the water, and they have beaks that help them with fishing. This Little Cormorant is an example:
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Waders, such as Egrets, have long beaks which they push into the shallow water to find fish, insects and frogs.
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Some birds feed upon fruits or buds from various trees. This Eurasian Golden Oriole has the kind of beak-shape that is suited to this kind of diet:
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Flowerpeckers are tiny birds that also like to eat fruit, but they like to peck into it and devour of the fruit. Hereâ€™s a Pale-billed Flowerpecker, on a Singapore Cherry (also called the gasagasa mara in Kannada), which is about to attack a fruit:
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Sunbirds are nectar-drinkers. They pierce the bottom of the flowers and suck the sweet nectar. In this image, you can see the typical curved beak of the Purple-rumped Sunbird (along with the Flowerpecker, one of the smallest Indian birds), as it lands on the flowers of the Flame of the Forest, or Palash:
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Features Some birds have beaks that also enable them to crack open nuts and harder seed-pods. This Rose-ringed Parakeet shows that kind of beak:
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Birds like the Hoopoe have beaks specially adapted to digging out insects from the ground:
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Sparrows, such as this House Sparrow, have beaks that are used to pick up seeds, dehusk them and then eat them up: Itâ€™s fascinating to observe birds and predict their eating habit by the look of their beaks. Do try it on your next walk!
Deepa Mohan is a freelance writer and avid naturalist.
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Minding their language
Chiding children always is not the solution. File pic.
Has your kid tried the S-word or F-word on you yet? How do you handle it?
o the hot topic of discussion in my seven-year-old's PTM recently was about bad words. One parent explained that his son had been using few unsuitable words off late and discussed the approach that he was taking. Soon all of us were talking of the same thing the S word, the I word, the F word - that seemed to have made their presence felt in our children's lives, despite all our best intentions. Where do our children, mostly between 6 to 8 years old, pick these words up? Television is one of the most obvious and reviled culprits but very often objectionable words creep in even after you closely monitor what he/she's watching. Moms who have gone through this and are honest enough to blame themselves think the trigger could be your own TV watching habits. "On weekends we watch movies on TV while my son is playing around and some of them do have swear words. If he repeats any word l tell him it isn't the right word to use at his age and that we ourselves never use it." The mother wishes to remain unnamed. They're a joint family, she says, and it's difficult to get everyone on the same page as far as children and TV viewing are concerned so the cure works better 42 CITIZEN MATTERS
than prevention in her case. Mother of two and freelance web designer Lina M lives by four rules of thumb when it comes to her children, 9 and 13, using bad words. "One is IGNORE if possible. Especially if the child in question is 5 or 6. They're just testing waters and waiting for a reaction from you. No reaction usually means no repetition with some kids. Two is
never losing your cool, even if it's the dreaded F word. I used to tell them later what I heard and be very firm that it could not be repeated. If it was still done then there was some sort of punishment either in cancellation of TV hour or playtime. Three is clean your own mouth! If by chance swear words pop out in front of children, say sorry. And the last is to understand that given
the exposure these days this is an inevitable part of growing up and they will grow out of it. So unless it's very bad, being used repeatedly or being purposely said to hurt or embarrass someone, I think it's ok to let go." It can of course be rather alarming to see your kids grow up. One fine day they are adorably lisping ‘Mumma,' ‘Dadda' and
suchlike and suddenly before you realise it, they've grown up enough to reach a stage where you need to refine their language. Mohit, father of eight-year-old twins, is practical about his cleanup process: "The definition of ‘bad words' is different in every family. I make it a point to tell them it's not alright to use certain words but ignore with some. Chiding them
constantly is not the solution. It provokes them to use it more." It's something I need to remind myself the next time I flare up and decide to spring clean the boy's mouth.
Reshmi Chakraborty is a features writer and mother of a 6-year-old and a one year old. She lives near Bannerghatta Road.
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