We all do it. Pass the garbage on the road, avoid the potholes, comment on the ineptitude of the local politician and then roll up the windows and turn on the air-conditioners, moving onto other things that make up our day. Zibi Jamal says that all this ended for her one day when she realised that her complaining was just making her feel worse.
Fast forward to the present and Zibi is part of the citizen’s group Whitefield Rising. Her daytime routine now, apart from being a mother to two boys and holding a PR job, involves championing for safer roads, cleaner lakes and everything else that could make the average citizen’s life better in Whitefield.
“I moved back to the city about five years ago, saw big potholes on the roads, sewage drains open, garbage piling up on the streets and muck around our lakes, and complained like I was used to doing. Then I started to read about citizens groups on social media and was inspired. If they could do more than complain about everything wrong with the city and the neighbourhood, then so could I,” she says, adding that the experience of being part of an active citizen’s group had also resulted in banishing certain boundaries that had always been part of her mental-makeup.
“I was afraid of talking to people carrying out work on the streets, or contacting the local councillor. I thought these were things that no one did, that they might just shout at you or something. The whole process started slowly. I used to pass by and see women cleaning the road and think to myself why they couldn’t clean it better. But when I started to talk to them, I realised they weren’t paid enough and that there was too much work for one person,” says Zibi.
What she wants from the BBMP and State govt.
- Better co-ordination between various civic agencies
- While repair work is being done, consider the people using the roads by making spaces for smooth flow of traffic
- Regularly take out protrusions from the road that can cause accidents
What she wants Bengalureans to do
- Instead of complaining internally, contact whoever is in charge
- Try getting involved, even if it is as simple as responsibly voting
- Do not be afraid/ hesitate to talk to the worker on the street or your local councilman.
What she did as part of Whitefield Rising
- Successfully spearheaded the campaign for solid waste management
- Spearheading campaign for cleaning and rejuvenating the 445 acre Varthur lake
- Getting more people in the neighbourhood involved in the local elections
- Championed to get dangerous potholes filled up