In the business of politics

Yet another survey has listed Bangalore as India's best city to live in. Many who choose to reside in the city after living elsewhere in India or overseas see that tag as indisputable. But even its most diehard fans acknowledge that its livability index has eroded in the past decade, and a series of infrastructure and civic challenges has rendered Bangalore a shadow of its once-idyllic self.

Rather than merely griping about what has come to be, a group of Bangalore-based corporate leaders have recently floated the Bangalore Political Action Committee (BPAC). Galvanised by the unresolved garbage crisis and the resulting trash heaps in street corners, BPAC wants to create an agenda for Bangalore and then start a fund that will finance the elections of credible, high-quality candidates aligned with this agenda.

It will probably be the first time in India that corporate leaders will openly write cheques seeking to influence politics and governance. The political system has been hijacked by the corrupt, who want to hang on to power and amass wealth but do nothing for their constituencies, said a prime mover of the group, Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw, chairperson of Biocon, India's largest biotechnology firm. "Through BPAC, we invite the middle class and the educated to get involved," she said.

The global city has been bogged down by a series of governments that have done nothing for the city, said Mazumdar-Shaw: "Now we need to back candidates who really want to make a difference in Bangalore." She described BPAC as an engine for change with the development of Bangalore as its sole agenda.

The group will support worthy, capable candidates in the city starting with the assembly elections coming up in 2013. It will fund candidates for the local corporation elections, assembly polls, and even the Lok Sabha, through a transparent, cheque-based system. "Because we are financing and supporting candidates, we will get the clout to work with them to improve governance and delivery in this city," she said.

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