Lok Satta Junction

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JP on Telangana – videos

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See the 5 additional related videos following the above link on YouTube.

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Written by jujung

March 13, 2010 at 10:41 AM

Posted in Agenda, Andhra pradesh, Ideas

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Proposed changes in women’s Reservations Bill

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Source: Loksatta news

Welcoming the UPA Government move to introduce a Bill in Parliament to provide for reservations to women in legislative bodies, Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan today suggested that the flaws in the Bill be removed if it were to be meaningful.

Talking to the media, Dr. JP pointed out that the Bill proposes reservation of one-third seats for women and the rotation of such reserved seats once in every general election.  As a result, two-thirds of incumbents will be forcibly unseated in every general election. When male incumbents are forced out, they field their womenfolk as proxies and hinder development of natural leadership.

“Such compulsory unseating violates the very principle of democratic representation and jeopardizes the possibility of any legislator choosing a constituency and nursing it. When legislators do not have the incentive to seek re-election from the same constituency, politics will become more predatory and unaccountable.  The Bill in its present form is silent about women’s representation in the Rajya Sabha and Legislative Councils. In addition, the Bill warrants a constitutional amendment.”

Studying all these, the Lok Satta had as early as 1998 presented an alternative for consideration by all political parties.  It calls for an amendment to the Representation of the People Act making it mandatory for every recognized political party to field women candidates in one-third of constituencies. To prevent a party from nominating women candidates only in States or constituencies where the party’s chances of winning are weak, the Bill proposes that each party should consider the State as a unit for fielding women candidates in elections to the Lok Sabha.  In other words, a party has to field one-third of women candidates in every State.  A party’s failure to field the requisite number of women entails a penalty.  For the shortfall of every woman candidate, the party cannot field male candidates in two constituencies.

The Lok Satta Bill proposes that for reservation of seats for women in a State Assembly, the unit shall be a cluster of three contiguous Lok Sabha constituencies. The Election Commission had endorsed the Lok Satta Bill, Dr. JP said.

Dr, JP said that the Constitution and the Representation of the People Act should be amended to provide for reservation of one-third of seats to women in the Rajya Sabha and Legislative Councils.

Dr. JP pointed out that political parties denied party ticket to women claiming their chances of winning an election were remote. Results in election after election have demonstrated that voters have no prejudice against women.

Written by jujung

March 13, 2010 at 8:17 AM

Liberalize the railways, demands Dr. JP

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Source: Loksatta news

The Indian railway system continues to be in a crisis since it has kept the winds of liberalization at bay, said Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan said here today.  When Delhi let go its stranglehold on airports and sea ports and permitted States to promote them, the country has witnessed a dramatic growth in the two sectors.

Commenting on the railway budget presented by Ms. Mamata Banerjee, Dr. JP said the railways’ failure to be the lifeline of the economy has resulted in the road sector overtaking the railways in goods movement.  The railways which once carried 80 percent of the cargo now handled only 20 percent. Neither the NDA Government nor the UPA Government has taken cognizance of the enormous losses the nation is put to because of road transport.  Road traffic resulted in regular accidents and huge loss of life, involved huge expenditure, warranted fuel imports, caused pollution and wear and tear of roads.

Dr. JP also suggested that each zonal railway be given total autonomy and treated as an independent profit center.  The South Central Railway earned a daily profit of Rs.5 crore while the Eastern Railway incurred a daily loss of Rs.6 crore.  For want of autonomy, the SC Railway has not been able to address the pressing needs of people in the region whereas thanks to political patronage the Eastern Railway continued to bag many projects.

Dr. JP welcomed the Railway Minister’s proposal to encourage railway development under the public-private partnership mode since there is no alternative.  A white paper published by the Railways has estimated that it has to invest Rs.14 lakh crore in the next 10 years on construction of new lines, acquisition of rolling stock etc. There is no way in which the railways can raise such resources and become the country’s lifeline.

For instance, the 13 projects under construction in Andhra Pradesh call for an investment of Rs.3600 crore, not to talk of the new lines proposed in the current budget.  The budget allocated a total of Rs.4300 crore for the entire country for construction of 1000 km of lines in the coming financial year.  At this rate, completion of the projects already taken up will take a decade or two.

Dr. JP disclosed that Andhra Pradesh accounted for 5500 km of the total 36000 km of railway lines already surveyed but there is no prospect of the lines materializing in the near future.  An autonomous SC Railway, for instance, could complete them in a few years because it can raise loans to match its Rs.2000 crore annual profit.

The Lok Satta leader also took exception to the Railway Minister’s attempt to placate all States by allocating nominal amounts to one project or the other in each of them.  Saying that bad politics drives away good economics, he said that the Carriage Repair Workshop at Tirupati could be developed into a coach manufacturing plant with a few hundred crores of investment.  Instead, the Railway Minister proposed construction of a new plant in West Bengal at a cost of a few thousands of crores of rupees.

Again, the Union Railway Minister sought to please MPs by introducing a large number of passenger train services unmindful of the huge losses in running them. The railways should focus on long-distance travel with express services and leave short distance travel to the road sector.

Dr. JP said it was a fact that Andhra Pradesh had received a better deal than in the past.  Yet, without a paradigm change in the working of the railways, the country could not progress.

Written by jujung

March 13, 2010 at 7:30 AM

What did Loksatta do till now?

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JP is the lone MLA from Loksatta, elected from Kukatpally. The party has formulated a clear plan to develop the constituency by identifying the problems, fixing a definite time-frame to solve these problems and tracking the results. The activities of the party in these four months (June 1, 2009 to Sep 30, 2009):

Update:

Brief Translation: The problems in the constituency have been classified into several categories:

  • depending on the estimated time it would take to solve them: solvable in 3 months, 1 year or 5 years.
  • depending on the scope of the problem: state-wide issues, constitution-related issues, deficiencies related to the laws and Govt. policies, injustice from the Govt.

These issues have been tackled by taking up the solutions with the various levels of the Govt. and trying reforms by proposing appropriate policy changes where necessary.

Actions taken in Kukatpally till now (June 1 – Sep 30, 2009: 4 months):

Completed Actions:

  1. Dr. JP conducted 4 face to face programs with people (at IMAX garden no. 4) to know the problems faced by the people and took appropriate actions.
  2. Took 99 samples of drinking water and showed to the water-board authorities, that the chlorine levels are not appropriate and directed them to take actions.
  3. Free eye and thyroid test-drives have been conducted.
  4. Free Health-care center is organized and medicines are provided in Balanagar with the help of two doctors.
  5. The construction of the under rail bridge in Safdarnagar, which has been neglected for several months has been completed.
  6. 20 new borewells in the Kukatpally area colonies, where people did not have access to daily water supply.
  7. 95% of the pipeline construction from Vasantnagar to Bhagat Singh nagar, to regulate drainage problems in the rainy season, has been completed.
  8. Booster pumps in Satyanarayana Swamy colony, Parvatnagar, Motinagar divisions to complement the irregular drinking water-supply that has been there for several years.
  9. Street lights between Vasant nagar and Satyanarayana colonies.

JP is available in the constituency every Saturday for discussing the problems and issues faced by the people.

Actions in progress:

  1. Underground drainage system: Works worth Rs. 4.4 crore have been started in 11 colonies/bastis. This helps nearly 2 lakh people, and prevents the mixing of sewage and water supply. Will be completed by Dec 31, 2009.
  2. 300 mm pipeline construction in Moosapet division for Manjeera water supply. Another 400 mm pipeline construction to make use of the neglected overhead tank.
  3. Road construction work has been started in Kukatpally ninth phase.
  4. Arrangements have been made to restart the swimming pool, indoor stadium construction in Kukatpally sixth phase.
  5. Started the road-widening work in Kukatpally phase road number 1.
  6. Started the system of Citizen Help Centers for the people to solve the municipality and Govt. related problems.
  7. Kukatpally circle receives only 9 mgd water (5% of the city) even though it has 56000 water connections (10% of the city). Arrangements have been proposed to supply atleast 16 mgd water. Work is in progress.

Proposals submitted to the Govt.:

  1. To construct four foot-over bridges for pedestrians in JNTU, Balanagar, Kukatpally, Moosapet areas.
  2. To move HUDA truck park from Kukatpally to Miapur and construct an auditorium for cultural and entertainment programs and a commercial center in its place.
  3. To have 3 sulabh complexes in areas with high population densities.
  4. The messy drinking water-supply situation in Kukatpally has been reformed to a certain extent. Proposals have been sent for full-fledged reformation.
  5. To construct 6 sewerage treatment plants near ponds/lakes and to fence the ponds/lakes to prevent illegal occupation.
  6. To build service roads from Moosapet Y-junction to Miapur to reduce traffic congestion on NH-9.

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Written by jujung

October 25, 2009 at 6:41 AM

Posted in Agenda, Loksatta, Telugu

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KPS Gill: How can the bureaucrats sit in Delhi and decide what the development model for the Chhattisgarh tribal will be?

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This is what he said in the context of the Govt response to the Naxal problem in Chattisgarh. Do read this whole interview with KPS Gill, for valuable insights into how every problem is different and how local problems need local solutions.

What Delhi cannot accomplish, Hyderabad cannot accomplish either. Governance need to be brought to the people’s localities. The failure of an excessively centralized governing system is more often due to lack of information about local needs and local problems and what works in a particular region. The local self governing bodies exist in name, but are stripped of financial resources and power to tackle the issues. This centralized governance also leads to situations where no single person can be held responsible for any failure (the credit for successes is all taken by the political families in charge of course, be it YSR/Nehru-Gandhi/Babu) or negligence, leading to no motivation among the bureaucrats to take control of any situation. Decentralizing spending responsibilities and clearly identifying a single person to be in charge of affairs goes a long way in fixing the duties and responsibilities, while leading to better tailored solutions for the problems. This will also lead to fast response and a more responsible resource utilization.

Loksatta on decentralization:

Speaking on governance reforms, Dr. JP pointed out that many districts in India are bigger than 50 percent of the countries in the world and the metropolitan cities are larger than 80 percent of the countries. Yet the local governments have been made irrelevant. No wonder, most people in the country do not know the names of Mayors of even large metropolitan cities in India, unlike those of London, New York or Mexico City.

Dr. JP said that power had been concentrated so much that there are only three decisions makers in India – the PM, the CM and the DM (district magistrate).

He called for genuine decentralization with devolution of powers, responsibilities, resources and personnel on the local governments. The people would not realize the importance of their vote unless they appreciated how it was going to transform their lives. Otherwise they would succumb to short-term sops or money and liquor offered by political parties.

Dr. JP underlined the need for civil service reforms. India is perhaps the only modern democracy in the world, which clings to institutions created by colonial rulers a century and half ago.

The Lok Satta President said that decentralization should provide for local policing and local courts. There has been a market demand for criminals and thugs because the people could not depend on the police and the courts to render them timely justice.

Written by jujung

October 20, 2009 at 6:41 PM

Lok Satta on Women’s Reservation Bill

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The UPA government plans to introduce the Women’s Reservation Bill, which seeks to reserve one-third of the seats in the parliament for women. This bill has been debated several times for over more than a decade now. This Reuters blog provides a good overview of the various positions on the issue.

According to the Outlook magazine,

“Even within a broader culture of ‘dynastic politics’, as the shorthand phrase goes, political scientists reckon that women MPs are more likely to be from political families than their male counterparts, and clearly, more than one dynamic is at work here. You reward a lieutenant by giving a seat to his appendage, and at the same time ensure he pours in the money, manpower and clout needed for her success. For a political player, it means consolidating power in safer ways than most—who, for instance, would you trust more than your wife?

At least 36 of 58 women MPs who have made it to the new House—that’s close to a depressing two-thirds—are close relatives of male politicians.

According to a Govt. sponsored study, the results of the existing reservation for women in the local governing bodies, has been quite encouraging. A sizeable proportion of women representatives perceive enhancement in their self-esteem (79%), confidence (81%) and decision-making ability (74%). As much as four-fifths of the elected representatives (male/female) did not have anyone in their family affiliated with politics. This was more evident in the case of Ward Members as compared to Pradhans, and male representatives as compared to their women counterparts. The report did not specifically mention the percentage of elected women representatives, without political connections.

From Loksatta News:

“Addressing a media conference, party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan recalled that that a Bill to provide for women’s reservations had been introduced many times in the last 13 years but had not been passed apparently because most parties were not serious about it.

Dr. JP pointed out that the Bill as it is conceived is seriously flawed. The Bill proposes reservation of one-third seats for women and the rotation of such reserved seats once in every general election. As a result, two-thirds of incumbents will be forcibly unseated in every general election. When male incumbents are forced out, they field their womenfolk as proxies and hinder development of natural leadership. “Such compulsory unseating violates the very principles of democratic representation and jeopardizes the possibility of any legislator choosing a constituency and nursing it. When legislators do not have the incentive to seek re-election from the same constituency, politics will become more predatory and unaccountable. The Bill in its present form is silent about women’s representation in the Rajya Sabha and the Legislative Councils. In addition, the Bill warrants a constitutional amendment.”

Studying all these, the Lok Satta had as early as 1999 presented an alternative for consideration by all political parties. It calls for an amendment to the Representation of the People Act making it mandatory for every recognized political party to field women candidates in one-third of constituencies. To prevent a party from nominating women candidates only in States or constituencies where the party’s chances of winning are weak, the Lok Satta proposes that each party should consider the State as a unit for fielding women candidates in elections to the Lok Sabha. In other words, a party has to field one-third of women candidates in every State. A party’s failure to field the requisite number of women entails a penalty. For the shortfall of every woman candidate, the party cannot field male candidates in two constituencies.

The Lok Satta Bill proposes that for reservation of seats for women in a State Assembly, the unit shall be a cluster of three contiguous Lok Sabha constituencies.

Dr, JP said that the Constitution and the Representation of the People Act should be amended to provide for reservation of one-third of seats to women in the Rajya Sabha and the Legislative Councils.

The Election Commission had endorsed the Lok Satta Bill, Dr. JP said.”

A good discussion with JP on TV5 regarding the bill is available on youtube: 1, 2, 3, and 4.

While reservation will certainly fast track the visibility of women, even if they are connected to powerful men, in the legislatures, it is internal democracy within the political parties that will truly enhance the stature of women or any other under-represented class. Reservation of any form for anyone in any field is only a temporary measure to accommodate for past inequities. Empowerment happens when that reservation helps the subsequent generations to become successful without the aid of those reservations.

Written by jujung

June 12, 2009 at 12:15 PM

Anti-corruption Bill by LSP

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Lok Satta Party president Jayaprakash Narayan presented a draft Bill to amend the Prevention of Corruption (Andhra Pradesh) Act to Speaker N. Kiran Kumar Reddy and Chief Minister Y. S. Rajasekhar Reddy on Wednesday. The amendment Bill integrates recommendations, guidelines and suggestions of 166th Law Commission Report and the second Administrative Reforms Commission’s fourth report for eradicating corruption at all levels.

Some excerpts from Loksatta News:

“If the Bill is adopted, MLAs and MLCs, elected members of panchayats, municipalities, and municipal corporations will be deemed as public servants and attract the provisions of the Prevention of Corruption Act. As per the Bill, an accused public servant has to prove his innocence in cases of trap or disproportional assets. It provides for attachment and seizure of property during investigation and forfeiture of property when he or she is found guilty. The Bill provides for establishment of a special court in every district, appointment of chief judicial magistrates as special public prosecutors and autonomy to the Anti Corruption Bureau, and effective powers to the Lok Ayukta. Special courts can on their own take cognizance of corruption involving public servants.

If the Government did not introduce the Bill to amend the Prevention of Corruption Act, Dr. JP said, he would introduce it as a private member’s Bill. Dr. JP also underlined the need to integrate various authorities dealing with corruption and disciplinary proceedings. The Lok Satta would draft a separate Bill for that purpose. Lok Satta Party leaders K. Dharma Reddy, V. Vijayender Reddy and E. Chennayya took part in the media meet.”

While I doubt if this bill will be introduced by the Govt., I nevertheless think this would be a good step forward if this encourages some debate on tackling corruption in the Assembly. I am not sure if the existing law is deficient in tackling corruption, I feel the deficiency is only in the law enforcement. Establishing more courts in each district is a good way to ensure faster judicial process. Such bills need to be supported by a broader legal and police reforms throughout the country.

On another note, the Govt. of India proposes to introduce a new bill to end the transfer-posting raj. A draft of the aims and objectives of the Civil Services Bill, 2009 says: “The public servant needs to be protected from victimization or other adverse consequences and refusing to follow directions of superiors in service which are not in accordance with applicable rules and regulations.” The bill envisages an enforceable code of conduct for all bureaucrats through a new Central Public Services Authority. Some important items of the bill are supposed to be:

  • The appointment of all civil servants for a tenure not less than three years in one posting. If there is deviation from this, the public servant will have to be “compensated” for the inconvenience and harassment caused due to such transfer before term.
  • The chief secretary and the director general of police of a state will be selected out of a panel of suitable candidates of required seniority to be drawn up by a committee comprising the chief minister, leader of the Opposition and the home minister.
  • The Cabinet secretary will be selected from a panel by a committee comprising the prime minister, the leader of the Opposition and the home minister.
  • A revamp of performance evaluation, performance related incentive schemes

Looks good so far. Hope this is not just beginner’s enthusiasm or one of the umpteen strong on paper, weak on ground bills.

Update: A discussion with JP on the corruption issue in the TV5 program “Prajalatho JP” is available on youtube: 1, 2 and 3. The full draft of the bill is available here.

Written by jujung

June 11, 2009 at 4:48 PM

Posted in Agenda, Ideas, Videos

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