RWA Mission Statement


1. Governance in a Micro-Urban Community

There is a new trend among the emerging urban communities to acquire the collective status of an association to institutionalise their relations among themselves and with others. Our Constitution recognises the right to associate and to function as an association as a distinct legal entity of its own. In general, all civil society organizations are nongovernmental and are composed of active citizens who voluntarily participate to improve some specific aspects of governance of human relations. Among them, we are specifically interested in highlighting those newly-formed micro-urban communities which strive for the integral development of diverse residents who happen to come together to live together in an urban locality in an interdependent manner with aspirations for a higher quality of life.

     They are democratic societies, as some among them are elected by the residents as Representatives to operate autonomously within the community as a self-governing organisation, and also cooperate with the outside authorities for development in many if not all aspects of the general  welfare. The managers of these bodies can deal with all organs of the state i.e. executive, legislature and judiciary and at all levels of government i.e. municipal, state and central. They have no vested interest except the common

good, and they do not receive funds from the governments for their survival. Nor do they seek power to make changes in the society; but they use their soft power of voluntary commitment backed by knowledge and experience to influence the decision-makers in the above three tiers of governments. They have been working with other civil society organisations and NGOs in the area, such as senior citizens associations, women's groups, ‘Basthi Committees', etc. to tackle social issues, such as slums, begging, orphans and the destitute, elderly, women safety, rowdyism, forced collections, street violence, contagious diseases, epidemics, relief work in case of natural or man-made disasters, etc. We have seen the crucial role played by them during the COVID-19 epidemic.

In other words, a Resident Welfare Association (RWA), reflects the common interests of an entire micro-urban community residing in a specific area, formed as a  cooperative housing society or a layout of a colony welfare association with several households or a building consisting of several apartments. From a democratic point of view, they function like a mini-government and are responsible to those

who have elected them to fulfill certain tasks specified in the memorandum of the Association, which is registered as a legal entity. The Executive Committee manages an annual budget with income from the members as charges for maintenance or other collective activities and incurs expenditure to attend to the common needs as well as the general welfare of the residents. Their financial transactions

are audited and approved annually by the general assembly of the members and are recorded by the Registrar of Societies. They pay taxes upon some of their activities and employ limited number of people for sanitation, as watchmen, security guards, domestic help, gardeners, etc.  Ideally, they have to function as cooperative housing societies, as they exist in Mumbai, and partner with the government as it appened under the Bhagidari system in New Delhi. They are called community governments in the USA and regional governments in China.  Therefore, to promote self-reliance and self-management of material and human resources locally at the municipal ward level, we would like to see that these bodies be treated as the 4th tier of self-governance, after the Union, state and municipal governments.

2. Inclusive and Harmonious Community for All Ages

While the first generation of RWAs have been helping to solve many problems which are technical and administrative, the new generation of Indian RWAs  distinguish themselves by aiming, in addition, at a noble mission. The Indian families residing in urban areas can now easily go beyond courteous good neighbourly attitude towards others and regain some of the benefits of the erst while joint-family relations of caring and sharing for each other.

    An apartment-building is an extended joint family composed of several small families. Many residents in these blocks or flats learn the necessary social skills and help their children too to acquire them as a prerequisite for harmonious living with their external social and natural environment. In this micro-community all the families come into contact with other families every day, across the corridor, in the lane or within the neighbourhood. It is the only community where all the members physically gather in meetings and see others eye to eye. Social media devices like Whats App groups help them to find time, as well as the opportunities to improve their instantaneous communications, and to take quick decisions. They are making a conscious effort to build open and humane society, where the individual's freedom is respected, and where women count as equally active partners. Youth from the small families will not be alienated and will not search for excitement from outside groups and drug gangs, as they would find readily available good companions in the peer groups within the community. Composed of much social diversity of castes, religions, languages, regions and states, these 'mini Indias' in evitably promote harmonious inter-cultural living among all the residents who came together to live together by choice or by coincidence.

Understanding and tolerating each other and rendering mutual help and support is a sheer necessity for them. While in the past, large family units tried to live autonomously and self-sufficiently, today's small families need their neighbours for their mutual needs and for their emotional expressions, be it force liberating a happy event or for expressing grief. In their meetings, the members cannot often make irresponsible criticism or the majority cannot bulldoze the minority opinions, as they need the cooperation of all and as their common interest is at stake. Hence, they are obliged to take decisions by consensus, in spite of differences and persuade to obtain compliance by all, as in the UN-related bodies. 

3. No, The RWAs Are Not Yet ‘Utopias.’

During the COVID-19 emergency in the country, while noting the indispensable and unavoidable role played by them in the urban communities in general, none the less, the occasion has exposed and revealed their weaknesses  as well. Some managers of RWAs are tempted to exhibit their 'fortress' mentality and are accused to have behaved like little Hitlers or little Polpots. As these residents are originally new settlers from villages, initially they wanted to build kinship in the locality by attracting the people from the same caste or same religion or same region, or same mother tongue, or those who worked in the same department or belonging to the profession. This is not an abnormal behaviour, as a similar thing had happened in Israel when they, in the fifties had initiated the collective communities, called 'kibbutz'. It is evident that gradually the residents change, as generations change and also as people from different cultural backgrounds join the community, unavoidably.

Internally, they tend to show a strong sense of private property and jealously fight for the protection of the common  spaces belonging to the association, just like an individual  family. Some exhibit 'border mentality' regarding their physical 'layout' towards neighbouring ‘layouts’, and they treat others as outsiders not eligible to enjoy the benefits of the assets within their colony or building. No doubt, they have often their justification. Many presidents, secretaries and treasurers are reluctant to pass on their posts to other residents, as a matter of rotation. Many office-bearers behave with a ‘head-of-the-family’ attitude; they are yet to become whole-heartedly accountable, transparent and open to criticism. Financial management and passing on the accounts to the next team is always a source of  misunderstandings and friction. Strongly influenced by the prevailing political culture, many tend to establish power hierarchies among the members, abhor non-selective socialization and cultivate groupism. Strongly motivated by  a sense of efficiency and to save their time, they do not  mind handing over small ‘mamools’ and bribes to the lower level staff of the Administration. They use personal relations of highly-placed persons to send telephonic calls to the  higher officials to make the stuck up files move.

Yet, in spite of these rumblings and grumblings, inevitable in a transforming society, the association is a school of democracy to learn to self-govern the affairs of the community. Out of this churning and turbulence  will emerge slowly the cardinal values of liberty, equality, fraternity and legality. The residents are constantly involved in dialogue and multi-lateral communications that are imposed forever by the proximity. They will go on enlarging the areas of social cooperation and team work in the management of their personal affairs thanks to Social Media. The residents would go on discovering the neighbour's inherent worth and merit without trying to guess his or her caste or religion or region, and enrich themselves mutually in inter-personal relations.

4. Relations with the Municipality or the Corporation

A. Some national and state-level federations of the RWAs are to be recognised as the nodal agencies by the Principal Secretary of the Ministry of Municipal Administration and Urban Development. They can play an advisory role to decentralise many governmental activities so as to avoid wastage and bring more efficiency into areas of waste management, fighting water, soil and air pollutions, municipal services in health, education and culture, and in protecting the infrastructure.

B.  The RWAs alone can enlist peoples’ organized participation in various local schemes, programmes and projects. The RWAs can rightly boast of having many eminent residents like retired vice-chancellors, professors, scientists, lecturers, teachers, judges, lawyers, chartered accountants, doctors, engineers, technicians, C.E.O.s, M.D.s and managers of reputed firms, and many former bureaucrats, who can now advise and participate freely without any constraints in the Ward-level committees.

 C. Representatives of zonal federations of RWAs can be co-opted to each Municipal Council so that they can be particularly involved in the city development plans and master plans.

D. Periodic consultations with the RWAs can be held at the level of the Deputy Commissioner, Zonal  Commissioner and the Commissioner to review the progress made in resolving the issues raised by the RWAs.

E. Meritorious RWAs are to be recognised on  Independence day/ Republic day celebrations for awards by the Mayor and the Commissioner, for the greenest flat or house, best park, best water body, cleanest community, etc.

 F. Aasara, a unique parity association of officials and the senior citizens formed and registered by the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation to oversee all the welfare activities of the municipal corporation concerning the elder population is a good model to be adopted by every municipality.

 G. Since the Councillor or Corporator is democratically elected to be in charge of the entire area and for all the residents, it should be given unstinted support, irrespective of her or his political affiliation, and should be very closely associated in all the relations with the municipality.

5. Local Co-Management with the Municipality

A. The spirit of democratization of our political system demands that the power of decision-making be decentralised, as much as possible, so as to permit active citizens to take part in it. The Ward Committee is an institution mentioned in the Constitution after the 1994 Constitutional Amendment. The members are to be drawn from the local residents active in the civil societies,

without any party affiliations. The RWAs can mobilize and propose enthusiastic and competent senior citizens, women, youth and other eminent residents to be involved in micro-planning, maintenance of the local infrastructure and for field coordination of the works of various departments.

 B. The RWAs are already very active in the Green Action Plan and its maintenance in the area. Apart from the plantation in public places, they are particularly helping in greenery in the interiors of the habitations.

C. Any slum improvement effort on the part of the local, state or national authorities should logically join hands with the neighbouring RWAs. The growth of slums, inevitable in an increasingly urbanising nation, is none the less a blot on the urban society. Since most of the slums are formed by the side of the RWAs and most of the slum-dwellers work in the houses, shops and offices of the nearby residents, the slum-dwellers observe with envy the middle-class lifestyles and gradually adapt them. Their second generation gets very naturally integrated socially into the urban life and shift away from the slum area, thereby leaving room for new immigrants from the villages. They take on rent a portion in a house in a colony or a flat in the apartment building meant for low-income groups, and thereby become full-fledged members of the RWAs. The RWAs can make conscious  efforts to make this process happen more smoothly since an RWA is an inclusive community.

D. Local public works carried out in the lanes and streets, like laying roads, pavements, lighting, etc. should get the endorsement of satisfactory completion by the RWA members. This would reduce much wastage of materials, low quality of execution and corruption in the engineering works in any municipality.

E. In all field work, the departmental staff on the visit can seek the cooperation of the Ward Committee more systematically for Third-Party Audit, census, surveys, tax collection, etc.

F. The RWAs have to play necessarily the most important role in the local disaster-preparedness and in applying the Standard Operating Procedures during epidemics, disasters and other emergencies.

G. The RWAs should appeal to the RERA State Committee to setup a 'Conciliation and Dispute Resolution Cell’ within the State Committee, as suggested by RERA Act and to include RWAs in it. This will reduce many encroachments and irregular building constructions in the area.

H. The RWAs should approach the establishments that deal with local Law & Order, Water, Electricity, Health, Education, Planning, Transport, etc., in order to have periodical consultations not only to offer their suggestions and to lodge their complaints but also to participate in the local management.

I. Where needed, they can facilitate the proper functioning of the local post office and their accessory services to all the residents.                                             

6. Safety & Security in the Locality

A. Since the RWAs carryout community policing (24hx7days) with the help of watchmen and security guards in all lanes, streets and buildings, there should  be regular training sessions in skills for the hired personnel to be efficient, respectful and helpful in all situations, as well as to train them to act judiciously in emergency situations.

B. Separate space has to be provided for young people to form youth clubs, etc. and to gather and to spend time together in an organised and transparent way, without having to hang around in the streets, aimlessly.

C. The RWAs should regularly be in touch with the nearest Police stations in order 

i) to indicate the points of visit and to sign the visit-book by the night Patrolling vehicles,

ii) to convene meetings with the police officials during festival processions, such as ‘Ganesh Pooja’ to see that they take place peacefully and without adding to the pollutions, iii) to encourage them to form committees for public cooperation, such as Maitri Committees or Voluntary Committee for Senior Citizens,etc.

D. The managers of the Associations should visit the local institutions of public utility like the clinics, hospitals, schools and nurseries to ensure that they function in order, security, tranquility and efficiently.

E. In the care of the senior citizens, in the Apartment RWAs, the visitors to the seniors are screened by the watchmen. In emergencies, their neighbours in the corridor would attend to them. Their where abouts in the building or in the public spaces are traced in the CCTV cameras and some of the cameras are connected to the Police Stations. The community halls, Elders' Day-Care centres, parks, clubs, gymnasiums, walking tracks, swimming pools maintained by the RWAs provide ample avenues to suit the needs of the senior citizens. Senior citizens' associations are often hosted in the premises of the RWAs.

7. Community of Urban Consumers

Just as political rights are important for all citizens in the country, economic rights are also important for all the residents to improve the quality of their living. They are a body of consumers of innumerable number of services and  products supplied by the government departments, public sector undertakings, Multi-National Corporations, private enterprises of different sizes, cooperative societies and street vendors. Individually no consumer-resident can afford to deal with the powerful establishments in case of a problem.

Consumer education i.e. product-knowledge and its application without damage to the health or to the Nature is possible only collectively, and it is particularly so to the low income groups among the residents. In case of a dispute, the Association can take up the issue efficiently for solution without any ideological bias or any extraneous considerations, since it is composed of men and women professionals of several disciplines like lawyers, CAs, doctors, engineers, company managers, businessmen, government officers. Further, outside their community, almost all of the residents work as producers and suppliers in the above mentioned establishments and enterprises.

A. The RWAs raise funds from the residents as membership fees and as maintenance and user charges. In addition, they collect funds to undertake major works of common interest. In the beginning, all owners invest not only in the house or the flat that they buy but also in the necessary infrastructure for ready access and amenities, which they are, in principle, entitled to expect from the municipalities and state departments, in course of time.

B. Many courts have characterized their economic transactions as economy of mutuality in cooperative spirit. They can take up many more activities directly than at present on cooperative principles of management for bulk shopping of goods and services needed by the residents, and get them delivered individually. For example, milk, vegetables, fruits, pulses and other grocery items and their delivery to individual residents could be arranged with direct links with the nearby rural producers who can directly sell their products without middlemen. This arrangement would give higher income to rural households and controls seasonal and irrational escalation of prices of essential items for urban consumers.  It further brings stability to the essential consumer products index (CPI).

C. As stakeholders, they can protect and maintain parks, tanks, open places, etc. in their area, when entrusted to them on a contract basis.

D. They can provide and maintain bus stands, car and cycle parking and auto-stands.

E. The Ration shops and other public distribution and servicing centres that are located in the area can be supervised by the mas consumers or as Third Party auditors.

F. RWA members are to be part of the local Basthi Dawakhana management committee, Sanitation committee, Environment committee, Slum-Improvement activities, etc., where they can provide logistic support.

G. RWAs are to be formally associated with all tax collections, including the property tax, with the understanding that a percentage of the receipts are to be spent on local works desired by the RWAs.

H. Local commercial establishments like shops of meat and fish, weekly markets, street vendors should be watched regarding the quality and measures and be guided to render better services to the residents, without the assistance of the inspectors and police. Some such activities could eventually be financed and the management can be shared by the RWAs.

(i). Some of such commercial establishments and their personnel should be included and involved in the activities of the Association, as they reside or live in the area.

(ii) The RWAs can draft and get signed a suitable ‘Community Pact’ with the local   establishments as a memorandum of agreement or a pact between the suppliers of goods and services and the residents' association to defend each other’s  interests as there is mutual dependence. The Association offers their continued patronage,

facilities and security, safety and protection against forced collection of 'chandaas' etc. and the other party assures the supply of quality goods and services in transparency i.e. at affordable prices, without indulging in adulteration and other unethical practices.

(iii). They cooperate with the local banks and insurance company branches and their agents for equal access and equitable services to all.

I. RWAs should be given preference to install and manage common services in the area, like Automatic Cash Machines, Coffee-machines, Washing machines, snacks-machines, photocopying machines, cyber-cafes, reading rooms and e-libraries, e-service- centres,

gymnasiums, swimming pools, day-care centres for children and the senior citizens, street cleaning, garbage collection, and to collect user-charges where necessary.

J. They should be authorized to permit, negotiate and collect income from advertisements or publicity within not only their premises but also in the area.

K. Holding sessions of Yoga, dance, music, painting, cooking, etc. and holding classes for learning many social and mechanical skills for reparation of many household gadgets as well as for healthcare services can be organized in the community halls on user charges.

Nurseries and summer-classes for children should be one of the priority areas of concern for the managers of the RWA.

L. Holding sports & games and other cultural events can be held in the child care centres, seniors' day-care centres, and in the community halls and other local common places or open spaces, with the support of the municipal corporation. 

M. It is to be hoped that in the long term, funding given to the RWAs would be one of the factors that would be considered in the financial allocations by the Finance Commissions, in its financial devolution to the municipalities. This is to some extent happening in the NOIDA area, without it being pronounced as such.

8. Cooperation with Other Civil Society Organisations & Institutional Support: 

Urban communities consist of not only individuals and families but also social institutions and civil society organisations, which tackle social issues and watch over vulnerable groups and categories among the residents. The RWA cooperates with the locally operating senior citizens associations, old age homes, Mahila Mandalis and other social organisations and other NGOs like the Red Cross, Lions and Rotary Clubs, etc. They mobilize voluntary services and funds for local welfare.

A. Climate change is a concern that cannot be ignored by the urban residents. Among them water pollution, air pollution and sound pollution have to be tackled by the RWAs by co-opting or inviting regularly a resident /scientist who is qualified or knowledgeable about environment concerns, or a local NGO, to the Executive Committee to advise on the best practices to be adopted and observed in the area.

B. Residents as Consumers: Since the residents are consumers of goods and services provided by the public sector establishments as well as the private sector, their quality, cost-effectiveness and access are to be ensured by the RWA with appropriate tools for testing, making suggestions and lodging complaints.

C. Further, the RWA management will make use of the RTI Act and seek appropriate channels for grievance redressal in favour of the residents, when needed. On issues that concern several residents, land disputes, encroachment of roads and water-bodies, irregular building constructions, etc., they might resort to judicial proceedings, such as Public Interest Litigation (PIL).

D. Capacity-Building of RWAs: Many urban residents are professionals rich in 'human capital' like knowledge,  experience, digital expertise, skills of communications and management with innovative genius, and would be willing to invest a part of their time and money for better functioning and management of the RWAs. They observe the 23rd November, as the 'RWA Day' in their Executive Committee meeting or the General Assembly to reflect on the role of the Association to further improve the quality of life of the residents. 

E. Since the mission of an RWA is living together harmoniously with the neighbour, their networking and their local and regional federations should aim at treating the world as one family and work in favour of international understanding and universal peace.

9. Cooperation with the State Election Commissioner and the Chief Election Commissioner of India

A. The RWAs alone can help in efficient preparation and updating of the Electoral Rolls, and they can endorse the revision and deletion of names, etc.

B. The RWAs can facilitate and support the functioning of the Polling Stations and booths in their community halls and local schools, etc. in a permanent way.

C. The RWAs are observing the 25th January for Systematic Voters' Education and Electoral Participation (SVEEP) in cooperation with the Chief Electoral Officer. On occasions, Memorandum of Agreement, MOUs are signed between the ECI and RWAs.

D. They arrange and provide a common platform for all the candidates to introduce themselves before the residents seeking their vote before all elections, and thereby reduce some practices of the candidates which are not in conformity with the Election Code of Conduct.

E. These activities of the RWAs are becoming effective to ensure a higher percentage of voting by the urban residents. 

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