Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Recoding INC: Open Letter to Rahul Gandhi

Dear Rahul Gandhi,

HT headlines that read ‘Rahul Gandhi gets ready for rediscovery of India’ indeed prompted me to write an open letter to you. After many such ‘rediscovery of India’ trips that you have undertaken it has been nothing more than a mockery of the legacy of ‘Discovery of India’.

Social Media, Main Stream, Voters, Panelist on debates, Right-wingers, Political opponents all are feasting on INC Leadership and particularly you, and somehow you choose ‘rediscovery of India’ path!

INC its staring at the Leadership for direction and all you plan to do is an ‘Incredible’ India tourism campaign? Don’t be fooled when some of the ‘bright stars’ in the party claim that if Indira could do it so can Rahul, even though I believe you have many qualities of Indira and she has been your inspiration, it’s fair to say that you are NO Indira and 1970's India is not 2014 India.

I am not interested in giving my views on why INC ended up with 44 MP, just 6 less than the maximum WhatsApp group count, nor I am willing to blame UPA-2 for what it did or did not do. Because, no one drives a car just staring at the rear view mirror, a rear view mirror is only to learn from the past and be aware of what is behind you. It’s time to look ahead, make a fresh start, but sadly there seems to be no concrete efforts made in that direction.

It’s given that you will be under the worst scrutiny ever, both internally and externally and it’s not going to get any better for you for a long time. The Leaders in INC are having a ‘party’ literally, pouncing, scratching and prowling at each other leaving the workers in a state of shock or worst running for cover.

Do not forget, over 10.7 crore people voted for INC, its time INC kept its commitment to these people who stood by the party even when it was staring at a brutal loss. Make a shift, ask these 10.7 crore people why they voted for INC, may be their conviction can help you steer INC in the right direction and help to ‘Recode’ INC.

Buzz is that there will more emphasis on PR, Communication, SM, Media interactions etc etc, yes all these can be achieved by bringing in professionals to manage it, ok good, but is that all one needs to do? No, INC has to bring back its sympathizers, believers, liberals, anti-right-wingers, traditional supporters, the disillusioned and more importantly women back into its fold.

Yes democratization of IYC and NSUI is something you should be proud of, but are they heading in the right direction? May not be, IYC and NSUI that should have been an army of political activist, free thinkers, idealist, young minds who feel the pulse of young India and who represent the ideology of INC, sadly they reflect the same shade of the larger organization which you are finding difficult to change.

INC biggest supporters were the women, for whom Indira Gandhi has been an inspiration, but the organization has failed them completely. Local leadership across states has systematically decimated the women leaders and workers. It’s unimaginable how a party headed by an inspiring woman like Sonia Gandhi has no credible and strong line of women leaders, if this is not failure what else can it be?

I too come from a family of political activist and hardcore INC supporters, all my life I have seen elections, where working professionals used to take leave from work and campaign selflessly for INC in every election. Where did these professionals go? What made these professionals go away, many may not have changed their ideology but they have simply distanced themselves from the local leadership. In corporate world we say that people do not quit organization, they quit managers, and it is not different from what happened to these professionals who were the greatest supporters of INC.

I am emphasizing again and again on the local leadership and grassroots level, because whoever becomes the President of INC nothing will change unless the foundation is ‘Recoded’. There is an urgency to move from mere tokenism to activism, money to mechanism and to bring back idealism into the organization. It can only happen if every member in INC is empowered to question and correct the leadership at all levels without being politically banished.

India has changed and INC can’t keep on romancing history, but there are many things that are eternal, which INC stood for - free thinking, idealism, conviction, liberal view, social justice, equality and fearlessness, and Recoding INC will be incomplete without this.

My nasty comments on you are not an indication of disbelief in your capabilities, recently when someone asked if your sister is a better bet for INC, I firmly said with a bloody nose, battered and bruised image RG is more equipped to lead INC. I am indeed a supporter of your Leadership; I strongly believe you are Sincere, Honest and someone who has the Heart in the right place.

As they say it’s the Generals who win the war through Strategy-Delegation-Deployment. Stop applying lipstick on pigs; bring in the Generals who can deliver, who are committed to the ideology of INC.

Don’t wait for political opponents and parties to make mistakes, winning a ‘For’ vote is more reassuring than winning an ‘Against’ vote. A golden opportunity has presented itself, it’s the 125 birth anniversary year of the first Prime Minister of our Nation there cannot be a better day to start Recoding INC. Indeed there can be no greater tribute to Pandit Nehru than restoring INC as a party of and for every Indian.

Quoting for an old advertisement that I think is apt for Recoding INCTo change the way you Look, change the way you Cook’.

Kavitha Reddy

Monday, November 10, 2014

Right to Clean Drinking Water

Clean drinking water is still a great challenge in India; in 2008 96% of Urban Indian and 84% of Rural India had access to improved water, averaging to 88% which is a drastic improvement from 72% in 1990.

But unfortunately 67% of Indian households do not treat their drinking water, even though it could be chemically or bacterial contaminated, thereby increasing the vulnerability to water borne diseases.   

Clean drinking water is directly linked to health of the nation, lesser diseases would only mean a healthier and more productive human resource, and hence access to clean drinking water cannot be a privilege for the few but should a Right for all.

Many innovative approaches have been taken to improve the quality of drinking water in India, one such innovative step that has see a large scale success is the Any Time Water (ATW) project initiated by Sri HK Patil in Gadag few years ago.

Taking cue from Gadag success Kanakapura MLA and current Energy Minister Sri DK Shiva Kumar undertook a large scale implementation of ATW’s under the banner of DKS Charitable Institution Trust in every single Panchayat of Kanakapura Assembly constituency and later extended to several parts of Bengaluru Rural.

Over the last 7-8 months my visits to Bengaluru Rural on various projects gave me a first hand information of the working of the swanky ATWs in most remote Panchayats. The citizens are happy that at a drop of just Rs 1 into the vending machine they are getting 10 liters of clean drinking water. Many of them said that they are demanding more ATW’s in Panchayats where there are more number of villages. It is indeed commendable that the access to clean drinking water has almost become a Right in this part of the country.

Success is indeed contagious; off late few Bengaluru Urban MLA’s are making an earnest attempt to replicate the model in their constituencies, and why not with urban poor almost at an alarming 25-30% clean drinking water is the least one could provide to ensure that urban poor do not spend their earning on medical bill due to diseases arising for unsafe/contaminated water.

Every BBMP ward has its fair share of lesser privileged and poor population and efforts should be made to provide clean drinking water accessible in these urban pockets/areas. In wake of hike in BWSSB supplied water and linking of usage and making it slab based, access to low cost rather no cost clean drinking water for the urban poor will be a logical and right step.

Elected representative should indeed push the drinking water project aggressively and effectively in their respective Assembly segments and Wards making clean drinking water accessible to urban poor in their locality.

A well planned localized monitoring and distribution mechanism to avoid misuse will go a long way in truly democratization of clean drinking water.

I also urge the citizen groups, RWA’s, political activists and NGO’s to take an active role and emphasize the need to provide clean drinking water for a better and healthier India.

-       Kavitha Reddy

Also published in Jagran City Plus, HSR Layout on 15th Nov 2014  - Click 

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

A Check for Child Safety

An increase in incidents of crime against girl children in school is not only appalling but also extremely shameful. It’s unimaginable that predators are committing sexual crimes on girl children as young as 3 years. Does it indicate a decline in our social values or is it that the schools are failing in their responsibility to ensure safety for children?

There is an urgent need for action and to set up a process for ensuring a Safe Environment for children in school, and it should be on top of the agenda. Since all the incidents of crime on girl children are occurring in the school premise the school authorities should be made accountable, they no more can shy away from the responsibility of ‘Safety’.

Government of Karnataka on 23rd July 2014 sent out a circular putting out the Guidelines & Safety Measures that Schools have to follow, and ensure safety for children at schools. The Guidelines & Safety Measures also has a Standard Operating Procedure that needs to be followed to prevent crimes, and an Action Plan how to deal with the crime if it occurs.

The Guidelines & Measures includes the role of Parents, School Management, Relevant Department and Police at each stage. The last date to implement the Guidelines & Safety Measures was 31st Oct 2014, and unfortunately many schools have not implemented the Guidelines & Safety Measures.

Indian Youth Congress (IYC) Karnataka has initiated a 3 day long audit (from 5th Nov) of all the schools in Bengaluru, with a single focus ‘to ensure safety for children at school’. IYC teams along with Civil Society Members and Volunteers are spread across the city, they will visit schools with a check-list of Guidelines & Safety Measures, understand the extent of implementation and compliance. All non-compliances will be reported to the nearest police station and a complaint will be filed against the school. IYC will also submit a detailed report on compliance to the State Government for further action.

‘Good Education and Safe Environment’ for children has to be everyone’s responsibility, schools have to play a major role in ensuring the Safety of children on their premises. School is a temple of learning and at no cost the schools should compromise on the Safety of the children. Parents admit their children in a school to ensure a better future and the better future cannot be scared by the ugly face of crime on them.

The initiative taken by the IYC team is indeed commendable and a public participation to make these kinds of events will indeed send a strong message to non complainant schools and to the perpetrators of crime on children.

For a better City, State and Nation ‘A Check for Child Safety’ is a must and its time the schools are transparent and keep open the process for audit on an ongoing basis and not as a onetime initiative.

- Kavitha Reddy

Also appeared in City Plus HSR Layout edition 8th Nov 2014 Click here