The local problems are getting addressed by the new breed of young experts through their knowledge and experience. The "social good" is prevalent in various efforts like the one mentioned below:
Most visitors find two very good reasons to hate Chennai within minutes of landing in the city. One, the weather. Two, the auto drivers. Nothing can be done about the first one. And nothing has been done to address the second reason - auto drivers who compulsively fleece passengers.
Here's a fact: fare meters in Chennai autos have just ornamental value; they aren't used. For the same distance by auto, Chennai would be comparatively far more costlier to any other city in India. The fare for each trip is decided in advance - the result of hard and tiring negotiations between the parties. This has been the case for decades, and yet absolutely nothing has been done by the administration. Of course, the story circulating for years is that it's the policemen who own most of the autos plying the city.
So Chennai-ites have often been left to wonder why on earth, for example, does the auto driver in Kerala not take a paise more from his passenger than what the meter indicates. There's always anger in Chennai on this point - arguably not good enough to translate into votes. That's why a Mirinda ad, in which actor Asin gives it back to an unruly auto driver, was so well received. In fact, someone I know even wrote to the State Government suggesting that it take over the auto service in the State. And, why not, when the Government seems to believe it is its duty to provide everything from rice to laptops free. It is thus hardly surprising that a recent initiative called meterpodu (or put the meter) has created some buzz. Its creators, Anantha Subramanian and Mayur Narasimhan, both of whom have worked in the US, came back home to the shocking auto scene and decided to do something about it. The Website meterpodu.in is the result. It works on a crowdsourcing model - users of its info also add to its info base.
So, for instance, you log in to the site (or use sms) to find out the likely charge between two points in the city. The meterpodu model then digs into its database (contributed by other users) for an answer. You now are better equipped to bargain. There ends your problem. But the meterpodu team wouldn't like you to stop there - ideally, they would like you to feed the fare you paid for the trip so that the database becomes better. That's how crowdsourcing could be a success.
Here's the interesting point. Despite what the name suggests, meterpodu wouldn't make auto drivers adhere to the meter. It would only ensure the user is aware of the going rate - still the product of hard and tiring negotiations. So even a visitor would be aware of that going rate, wherever he wants to travel.
That would be the state unless the administration wakes up to the problem of the ornamental meter. For the time being, this seems a solution which the auto drivers won't find unacceptable. Because, it's unlikely that the database gets weighed down by rates that are near what the meter would prescribe.
Both Anantha and Mayur have no plans to gain monetarily from this exercise. So, its success would depend entirely on users voluntarily coming forward to do their bit to limit fleecing. Like all crowdsourcing projects, it also runs the risk of finding it tough to motivate participation from users. For the time being, though, meterpodu is an indication that at least someone is thinking about the problem!
Check this initiative here: http://www.meterpodu.in/