In which I appear alongside Vidya Balan…
..or Notes from the Road and the 3 States, 4 cities, 20hr workdays Outreach…
Its been more than a week since I got into my normal routine…but the ideas keep coming in …The outreach earlier this month was one of the most intensive to date. It was also a great learning experience and a chance to see first-hand the impact of Anna-ji and IAC on the socio-political landscape in India. I witnessed that impact first-hand – at colleges in Odisha and at meetings in Delhi, in MP and in numerous conversations over the last few days…There is so much to share and write but I want to keep this short and share some key observations with all of you.
- Anna’s movement & India Against Corruption has definitely helped raise the level of political awareness in India – especially urban and semi-urban India and those in the 20 -35 age group.
- This is a positive thing for everyone working towards political reforms in India and a great indirect booster to all such movements and organisations
- Its other notable positive impact is the confidence it has given to people that this fight can be won..that change can be brought about; that “is se farak padega“
- The euphoria generated by the movement though has provided many people with an “intellectual shortcut” while discussing change and fundamental systemic reform (such as an open – and smaller – government).
- In discussion after discussions, I found myself fighting to explain to people why LokPal is not a magic bullet and why we must not get into a self-congratulatory mode and loose sight of the longer term goals
- It was heartening to see a genuine interest among students and youngsters to do something and get involved in politics
- There is a good chance that the next elections may see some new, fresh faces in Parliament – there is a definite momentum for change. I hope it sustains over the period of next few years.
- This was probably the first mass movement that successfully leveraged several social networking tools and advances in communications technology. There is a lesson here for everyone involved in communicating any idea to urban India
- It was clear that the movement had managed to cut across party lines and class divides..It also managed to bridge ideological differences and caste barriers (to the extent these still prevail in urban India). Its base appeared to be truly broad and representative.
Most Depressing Day: 31st August. This was the day I visited a village near Indore (Kodaria, near Mhow) with my good fried Atul (also involved in IAC). We spent a few hours there, talking to several people and taking a long walk around the village…What we saw was horribly depressing – non-existent paths, sewage spilling over on to the streets, a collapsing drainage system and stagnant pools of water. We also heard about an unresponsive administration, lack of funds for development and saw first-hand how uncontrolled urbanisation can lead to serious public health and hygiene issues. It was truly depressing and it made us wonder where do we begin…It reminded me of another walk I had taken around Cheeta Camp in Mumbai, 2 years back. Here are some pics from around the “village” (actually fairly well developed, being adjacent to an army cantonment)
Most Heartening Event: The 40+ youngsters that turned up at another village near Indore (Simrole) on 1st September to meet and discuss various issues with us (me and some FTI collegues from Indore). This was the second time we were visiting the village. We noticed distinct signs of change – including two very heartening initiatives by the youngsters themselves (to teach computers to students and to guide them on various career options). Undoubtedly the “high” of this visit.
Most Surprising Factoid: We learnt that the village of Kodaria with a population of 20,000 gets a mere Rs 8 Lakhs from the government (annually). If true, this is shocking. Do readers have any other information that can validate (or contradict) this? Is that really the amount a gram panchayat gets from the government?
And finally, DNA Indore published a brief interview with me which probably got a lot more attention than usual – purely by chance! Here is a link to the full text
P.S. On an unrelated note, why is that regardless of where you travel, the roads in urban and semi-urban India just cannot seem to cope with rains? I just cannot believe that a country that can launch a “Chandrayaan” cannot build all-season roads. Isn’t that embarrassing?
P.P.S. Stay tuned for vides from some of these meetings. Hope to upload them later this week. Jai Hind, Jai Bharat!