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Interview with Mr. Karthik Chandra, Foundation for Democratic Reforms

Posted on July 2, 2010 in Interviews

Our correspondent K. Spurthy Rao got a chance to catch up with Mr. Karthik Chandra from the Foundation for Democratic Reforms, a research and advocacy body to find out the flaws in our political system and propose amendments to be adopted. Here are excerpts from her conversation.

Spurty — Good Evening Karthik.

Karthik — Evening!

Spurty – What is your NGO all about?

Karthik — FDR as the name suggests is basically a research and advocacy body. We lay the foundation for democratic reforms. We work to find out the flaws in our political system and propose amendments to be adopted. We do research and compare the governance of other countries to that of ours and try to inculcate the best practices.

For instance, we have compared the functioning of USA and India. While both are democracies, they have a developed system while we are still developing. They have a government which is felicitating growth. But, our governance is hindering it.

Spurty – So are you hinting at the Government in the centre?

Karthik — No, this is not about a particular party. This is not directed at a candidate or the party in power. It is about the state of affairs. It is about reforming the entire system to enable development.

Spurty – Tell us more about the work you do.

Karthik — We are attempting to bring about the much needed but less worked upon change. We are striving to reform the political/electoral system. There is a lack of accountability. So, we saw to it that the Right to Information Act is properly implemented. We are also pushing for reforms in the judiciary and in the police force. We are working towards adapting to a specific policy such as the education and health reforms.

Spurty – What were your programs/campaigns that your NGO had undertaken in the recent past? –In what way do you want to develop India? What are the initial steps you’d suggest to make India a better place?

Karthik — To develop India the first step should be to elect the right leaders, who can take us forward, the leader whose sole aim & purpose is to serve the society and do justice, a leader who is self-less, and humane. These kind of people should be in power to develop India. For this, our organization has launched a campaign called ‘KYC’ i.e. Know Your Candidate. This campaign brings forth the criminal and personal records of the candidates contesting for the election, so that people are aware of whom they have to elect.

Spurty – What are your upcoming programs? Could you tell us your plans to empower the citizens?

Karthik — We are formulating action plans to raise awareness of the need for governance reforms in India. We have also identified high impact problems and are working to share successful, sustainable and scaleable solutions with like minded groups across India.

Spurty – Do you think that the people are far more vigilant today?

Karthik — People now-a-days are vigilant but, it pertains only to a certain sector of the society. This covers mostly the literate class. But, we still have a long way to go. Our purpose is to make every citizen aware of the political situation. There still are people who are ignorant to the current political scenario. Everybody has to be vigilant of candidates with criminal background and block them out completely only then can we see the desired change.

Spurty – How do you see India after a decade?

Karthik — India has umpteen human resources. But, we still lack world-class infrastructure. There is a strong link between the quality of governance and growth. If we are able to improvise on that aspect and with small changes in the judiciary not to forget our governance, India I think will be a super power in the future to come.

Spurty – How do you think today’s youth reacts to the word democracy?

Karthik — It depends. If you are talking about the college going urban youth, they have a certain perception. But, if you are talking about the rural youth, they too have an entirely different perception based on several experiences. But, all in all, it is something which symbolizes freedom for them, freedom which facilitates development, freedom which includes growth.

Spurty – What would be your address to today’s youth?

Karthik — Politics is not all bad. It definitely is polluted but, someday, somebody has to step forward and clean it. Then, why not it be today, why not that somebody be you? Our youth has got all that it takes to make this country a better place. All that our youngsters do is sit in front of some news channel and comment on the pathetic state of affairs. They do have serious debates over our political system in coffee shops. But, nobody is really ready to consider politics as a career. They should come forward willingly and lead the country from the front. Our youngsters are full of zeal and enthusiasm. They have some ideals and ideas for developing India. It is youngsters like you who will have to lead India in the future to come.

Spurty — Thank You Karthik for talking to us and telling us your plans for a better India.

Karthik — Thank You. It was nice talking to you.

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