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Poor citizens in Bengaluru more active, says report

Citizenship participation, the study found, was greater among the poor and illiterate than among the middle and upper classes of the city.

ET Bureau|
Updated: Dec 18, 2014, 11.23 AM IST
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Citizenship participation, the study found, was greater among the poor and illiterate than among the middle and upper classes of the city.
Citizenship participation, the study found, was greater among the poor and illiterate than among the middle and upper classes of the city.
BENGALURU: Although many Bengalureans face poor basic services and infrastructure, they rarely ask government agencies to fix the problems. If you think this is a stereotyped image of the quintessential Bengalurean, think again. The Janaagraha Centre for Citizenship, Democracy and Brown-India Initiative, Brown University , USA, have a study to prove it.

Citizenship participation, the study found, was greater among the poor and illiterate than among the middle and upper classes of the city. Contrary to expectations, the poor and illiterate population had better access to water, sanitation, electricity and roads when they are civically-engaged.

The Janaagraha-Brown Citizenship Index Report, based on a 2013 survey of 4,098 citizens, said although over 50% of those surveyed reported having frequent water shortages, only 7% went to the water department to report a problem in the two years prior to the survey . While 50% of the poor-living in in t formal settlements-had never engaged with the state, 81.4% among the upper f classes did not do so.

Pointing out that lower classes, SCSTs and Muslims participated more than the upper castes and classes like the Hindus i and Christians, Dr Patrick Heller, Professor of Sociology and International Studies, Brown University , said: "If the poor do not participate in political and civic life, they would receive less basic servic f es and infrastructure from the state." Although services were unequally distributed across classes, religion was not a factor that affects the BSDII (Basic Service Delivery and Infrastructure Index), which is determined by access to water, sanitation, electricity as well as the quality of roads.

The study considered the following parameters to gauge citizenship: knowledge of how the state functions; participation in public activities and the freedom to do so regardless of gender, religion, caste and class; and engagement with the state and its institutions as a bearer of rights. For a majority of the city's residents, the study concludes participation began and ended with voting.While about three-quarters of Bengalureans voted in the last elections ­ Parliamentary, Assembly and Municipal polls ­ only one in 10 participated in other political and civic activities. Ramesh Ramanthan, cofounder of Janaagraha, said participation can increase only with action from authorities.

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