Dr. A Ravindra
Advisor, Chief Minister of Urban Affairs
Overcoming corruption, Building citizen support, Organizing a municipal center of government, Revenue generation
, Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), Kaveri Water Supply Project, Bangalore Area Task Force (BATF), Karnataka State, civil administration
Tue Jan 19 2010
In this interview, Dr. A Ravindra discusses his extensive career as a civil servant in India, mainly in Karantanka states. He begins by describing the training and assignment processes of civil servants in India, including his own experience and reflections on changes in years since he began his career. He explains the structure and functions of civil administration. A lot of his work involved developing public-private-people partnerships. He focused on getting citizens involved in resident welfare associations in his home city of Bangalore. This work began as a response to the problems he heard citizens were having with city administration. He expresses the personal responsibility he felt because of the poor reputation of the Bangalore Development Authority (BDA), which he directed at the time, and his genuine concern for the city. He describes the difficulties associated with economic expansion throughout the 1970s, 80s and 90s. The resultant housing and land shortage in Bangalore presented a challenge for the BDA and opportunities for corruption. Ravindra worked with citizens to address these problems, through intitiatves such as Swabhimana, which was a series of citizens forums for civil servants to hear concerns. In addition to economic changes, India’s complex social problems contributed to the political pressure on civil servants and politicians. The institutional structures governing the appointment and rotation of civil servants also complicated any reforms, as people were often only in a given position for a short period. In addition to providing a detailed explanation of state political structures in India, Ravindra describes several specific reforms he was involved in, such as the self-assessment property tax reform, infrastructure development, and the Kaveri Water Supply Project. Ravindra built the capacity of each of the institutions he worked in, while also overcoming internal resistance to reforms. During his tenure as chief secretary, several major issues took his attention away from sectors on which he hoped to focus, such as education and urban development. Among these issues was a severe drought that led to a dispute over water with a neighboring state. Ravindra concludes by discussing urban planning and the need for improvements in urban governance more generally, as this is an issue throughout India due to high rates of urbanization.
At the time of this interview, Dr. A. Ravindra was advisor to the chief minister on urban affairs. He attended the National Academy of Administration in Mussoorie and is a member of the Indian Administrative Services. He began his career as a subdivision director and then district commissioner in Karnataka, his home state. Through a variety of positions, he developed expertise on the urban sector. He twice served as commission of Bangalore City Municipal Corporation and was chairman of Bangalore Development Authority (BDA). His career included work at Bangalore Water Supply and Sewerage Board (BWSSB) and a position on the board of Agenda for Bengaluru Infrastructure and Development task force (ABIDe). Ravindra served as chief secretary of the state of Karnataka in the early 2000s. He holds a doctorate in urban studies and is the author of Urban Land Policy: A Metropolitan Perspective.