Here is an oft-heard, oft-repeated story:
Elections are in the air. And with it follow political rallies, candidate endorsement, endless debates on television, mudslinging, new manifestos, promises of huge spending, tax reforms, polling, development, etc.
Suddenly, you, the voter are the star of this huge drama and everyone is trying to woo you.
Polling day arrives. Results day arrives. One side celebrates. Several others are despondent, already plotting their next strike.
Suddenly, you, the voter cease to be even in the background -- no matter who has won. Add to this the fact that you have no clue about the progress on the manifestos and developmental agenda discussed at such length while wooing you.
Until the next round of elections, that is.
This is a common grievance with all democracies around the world with a few exceptions few and far between. What can be done to change it?
The answer is quite simple -- inclusive governance and citizen participation -- and yet very hard to implement.
Here's how Bengaluru did it.
The Bangalore Political Action Committee ( B.PAC), a non-political outfit set out its simple "Agenda for Good Governance" with the help of another great organization called Daksh. They let the numbers do the talking.
Daksh, a not-for-profit organization decided to help the citizens of Bangalore sum up their perceptions of their elected representatives by running a unique, detailed and targeted survey among citizens.
Daksh presented the Citizen with two powerful tools. One, it allowed the citizen to highlight issues that are important to him from a set of 11 parameters of governance as identified by Bangalore Political Action Committee (B.PAC). Next, it allowed the Citizen to rate his elected leader on how effectively he has tackled issues of high importance on a scale of one to 10.
After three months of careful design and planning of the surveys, they used a dynamic network of teachers and social workers to percolate the survey to various strata of the population over a period of three weekends. The survey team took care to collect data and perceptions from all religions, castes, the landed, the rich, the poor, the literate, the illiterate, etc.
The end-result is a performance-based scorecard for each MLA (Member of Legislative Assembly) from 28 constituencies summing up the views of about 150 respondents from each Constituency. The performance scorecard of the MLAs can be viewed here.
Not surprisingly, leaders with high responsiveness and more visibility were rated much higher on the scale. Going a step further, B.PAC identifies and promotes strong candidates based on the survey results for the upcoming elections. Data from Daksh's research came in handy while checking for traits like effectiveness and integrity among candidates before publicly endorsing them. The candidate's actions, history and manifestos were seen to be aligning with their Agenda for Bangalore .
So, yes, finally -- your politician gets a report card too!
The author is a kidquip collector @ www.kidskintha.com where she blogs about all things kids.