Youth Ki Awaaz Founder and Editor in Chief Anshul Tewari interviewed Mallika Sarabhai independent candidate for the Lok Sabha from Gandhinagar, Gujarat over issues ranging from politics, society, rural India and other issues.
Given below are the questions and answers:
Q1. How has your experience been during the election campaigning? What was your learning from the campaign?
It has been an amazing experience and the steepest learning curve. I have personally met and spoken with over 2 lakh people, visited 140 villages and practically every slum in the constituency. Every government needs to be tried in a court for human rights abuses for what they haven’t done for the people No drinking water after 62 years? No toilets? No safety that your hovel will not be bulldozed? Wn or lose I will fight for the basic fundemental rights of every Indian.
Q2. Why did you choose not to go with any established political party and contest independently?
There is little to choose between the parties. Whereas the BJP openly goes counter to our Constitution by calling all but Hindus second class citizens, in actual fact the Congress does the same. They are all opportunistic and interested only in the power and the money. Otherwise we wouldn’t be in the dire straights we find ourselves. Our poor have been made into zombies with their brains in a daze. We treat our people as beggars. How could I join any of these parties?
Q3. Gujarat has seen the worst ever communal violence in the history of India.Will India ever be able to do away with divisive and communal politics?
If India is to survive, we will HAVE to ged rid of this communalism and no party, thinking in terms of vote banks, has the will to do so. We have a million identities but politics has reduced us into being a community or a caste alone. we have to revitalize other identities.
Q4. Do you think the media is responsible or not?
Yes the media must take a lot of the blame. They too play the TRP game and manipulate the public. They sell editorial space!
Q5. By means of internet and blogging I am able to reach only a small urban section of the youth. How do you think we can reach out to the rural youth? How did you reach out to them? How was your experience?
By actually going out to them. And they are very open if you are down to earth with them. I don’t try and preach but I am genuinely interested in each of them flowering in an ethical and inclusive way.
Q6. What do you think are the issues of grave concern in Gandhinagar and how do you propose to solve them?
One needs to laugh or cry but the basic issues are still the main issues – water, poverty, homes, work, women’s safety. The government comes and bulldozes homes and leaves people on the streets. Hutments which have stood for 40 years still do not have a single toilet. Let’s forget internet connectivity and such nonesense and give people humane necessities
Q7. Mr. L.K Advani has always had a strong hold in Gandhinagar. Do you think enough has been done in the city to improve the living conditions of people?
He has done nothing except build crematoriums. Even the benches and bus stands he has built are allegedly built after previous ones were broken down to make way for new ones with his name on them
Q8. People in India have resorted to violent demonstrations to get their voices heard. This leads to loss of life and property. What do you think must be done to put a halt on such actions? Do you think demonstrations are effective?
If voices remain unheard violence will be the result. Voices must be heard. A genuine process of giving people their rights and of empowering them to stand on their own feet must be started and seen to have started.
Q9. Do you think that the Indian Government has taken sufficient measures to fight terrorism and tackle inflation?
There is something basically wrong with our policies. Terrorism arises out of joblessness, insecurity, voicelessness and frustration. If these are not tackled terrorism is not tackled. We have done nothing for this. Similarly inflation is often a result of subsidies in various sectors and here too our policies are totally short term and do nto look at the actual long term solutions
Q10. You would recall the pub incident, you would recall Varun Gandhi’s speech, and then there are people like you and others who are working for more grass root level issues. Do you think they are able to influence others?
Yes alas they have a huge influence but we must fight the easiness of influencing hatred with other logic that can show some instant results.
Q11. You have done a number of programmes for the rural population of Gujarat such as The Acting Healthy Project, The Fatehpur Model village project, AIDS awareness programme, JAGRUTI, and many others.
How effective were these projects in involving the rural youth and resolving problems? What have been your experiences while working with the rural India? What do you think are the main problems they face?
There is a huge sense of dejection and apathy and it is very difficult to shake these off. Even after many years of working in a village with financial rewards for the villagers there is still an apathy. It is hard. One needs to find two or three local movers and shakers to make things work.
Q12. What is your message for youth of India?
Each one of us has it in us to change the way things are. Long term good can never accrue to only one section of society. We must work together towards a more just and equitable society and we must start now with our immediate surroundings. There are no short cuts. If corruption bothers you and you think the system stinks stop doing it yourself. Swear not to take or give a bribe. Swear never to break a traffic rule however inconvenient. Try to legally change the rule if you think it is wrong or sit in a dharana. But do not casually break it. File RTIs where you think information is being hidden. And be gently and kind to people however rude you are. And see the world change. Nothing is more intoxicating.
To know more about Mallika, log on to mallikasarabhai.in