Subject: citizen participation in improving civic amenities.
Bangalore has earned fame as garden city and has attracted attention of the world. A meeting is organised in Town Hall on 15-12-2012 at 11:00 to discuss with the Commissioner of BBMP on how we can make Bangalore a city with the best basic amenities in the nation and the world. You are requested to attend this meeting.
- To Asst. and Deputy Commissioners of all the 8 areas to attend the meeting and to guide concerned EROs
- To all EROs for necessary action
Asst. Commissioner (Admin and Tax)
This is a classic sarkari communication, keeping all options open. The body talks of civic amenities , in the copied addressees it indicates voter registration, and image file named ‘bbmp-swm’ smells of solid waste.
An Asst. Commissioner, BBMP, told me when we met on 14 Dec that the meeting was called to discuss voter registration and invited me. I had not seen the circular then. When a volunteer of Smart Vote asked, on seeing the circular, he was told that matters related with civic amenities, solid waste management and voter registration would be discussed.
If the discussion becomes inconvenient on one subject, the authorities can change focus, remaining politically correct. The three subjects need hours of discussion each. Because the meeting starts at 11:00 a.m., soon the participants will be thirsty and hungry and the meeting could close open-ended, with no action points.
Mr. PV Maiya wrote after reading the circular, “In administration in my first bank, I used to call it parallel processing. Never answer the issue at hand but raise others till the first fades away. From the circular, it appears the meeting has nothing to with voter list; if at all it is a side issue to be considered just before lunch hour.”
I wish that people whose profession includes communication (can’t think of a profession that does not need communication) read at least two classics:
- Cornell University English professor William Strunk, Jr., wrote The Elements of Style in 1918 for in-house use at the university. On A-4 size paper, it is 30 pages little book.
- The Complete Plain Words is a style guide for English written by Sir Ernest Gowers and published in 1954.
Both these books have never been out of print. We can also download copies from internet.
Sir Ernest Gowers writes in Prologue of his book:
THE purpose of this book is to help officials in their use of written English as a tool of their trade. I suspect that this project may be received by many of them without any marked enthusiasm or gratitude. “Even now”, they may say, “it is all we can do to keep our heads above water by turning out at top speed letters in which we say what we mean after our own fashion.”
But what is this job that must be got on with? Writing is an instrument for conveying ideas from one mind to another; the writer’s job is to make his reader apprehend his meaning readily and precisely. Do these letters always say just what the writer means? Nay, does the writer himself always know just what he means? Even when he knows what he means, and says it in a way that is clear to him, is it always equally clear to his reader? If not, he has not been getting on with the job. “The difficulty”, said Robert Louis Stevenson, “is not to write, but to write what you mean, not to affect your reader, but to affect him precisely as you wish.”