Dr RSP, a beacon of hope for many!

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IPS-Praveen-Kumar

Highlights

Dr BR Ambedkar, fresh from England with a Doctor of Philosophy degree, refused to accept the post of Professor of Political Economy offered by the Bombay government.

Dr BR Ambedkar, fresh from England with a Doctor of Philosophy degree, refused to accept the post of Professor of Political Economy offered by the Bombay government.

He explained, in an election speech at Ramdaspur in Jalandhar on October 27, 1951, the reason behind his decision: "I refused the post because I had a great feeling for the service of my community which I could not have done remaining in that service. A government servant, you know, cannot serve his community as he has to go according to the wishes of the government and follow the policy of the government."

The Babasaheb's scintillating speech, "We can have one power and that is the political power. This power we must win. Armed with this power, we can protect the interests of our people"- crossed my mind when the 1995 batch Indian Police Service officer, Dr Repalle Shiva Praveen Kumar, the son-of-the-soil, sought for his voluntary retirement on July 19, 2021. In his open declaration that he could give 'only my 10 percent' for the marginalised and neglected sections of society in his 26 years of government service, he echoed the Architect of Indian Constitution's idea on the limitations in serving people while in government service. The 53-year-old upright officer credited with transforming the face of the Telangana Social Welfare and Tribal Welfare Residential Educational Institutions has sacrificed seven years of a bright career in the Police department 'to start a new phase of journey.' An inspiring movement, christened SWAEROES, he pioneered with social welfare hostel students as its members with a belief that the 'sky is the limit,' remains a case study for government servants. A Harvard University Master's degree holder, Dr RSP vowed to dedicate the rest of his life "to fulfil the unfinished dreams of doyens of social justice, Mahatma Phule, Dr BR Ambedkar, Kanshi Ram and many more torch bearers."

Dr RSP, in subsequent television interviews, also resonated Kanshi Ram's line of thinking, as mentioned in the latter's 1982 book (The Chamcha Age) that Dalits should work politically for their own ends rather than compromising by working with other parties. Unlike the other three household names of Indian Civil Services officers who gave up cushy positions to take a plunge into active politics- Dr Jayaprakash Narayan (IAS), Arvind Kejriwal (IRS) and VV Lakshminarayana (IPS), Dr RSP had bitter experience with caste discrimination as a child, student and officer. His decision to 'serve public' full-time rekindles hopes in a large section of rudderless people, who are either betrayed or disillusioned by the present political system and its leadership. Dr RSP may join a party that reflects his ideology or float his own party, but I consider his entry into politics as a major milestone in Telangana politics. And, I have no qualms in guessing that he is capable of mobilising masses to capitalise on the political vacuum left wide open in the Telangana political arena to start with. For RSP or those who want to cleanse the political system to ameliorate the lives of marginalised sections, the Herculean task at hand is to fix certain important issues on priority basis. They are, People, Policies, Partnerships and Press (4Ps).

People: Lovely-Lazy-Lousy

The first and the foremost issue is obviously, people, I mean electorate. We can broadly bifurcate them into three types: Lovely, Lazy and Lousy. Lovely people, a miniscule minority, keep nation first and think about the development and welfare of the general public. They are also opinion makers. Lazy people, the next category, are mostly educated cynics. They are reluctant to enrol their names in the voters' list in the first place. Even if they do so, this bunch doesn't see merit in taking pains of going to the polling booth to cast their votes.

Now, the highly dangerous category, Lousy People. The blind supporters of political parties based on caste, region or religion, they don't have any problem in accepting freebies and see no harm in trading votes for a couple of red currency notes, liquor or biryani. Blame it on politicians, it is an open secret that money and liquor flows during the campaign and polling days. Crores of rupees are spent to make this category happy and it is in fact working wonders for political parties right under our noses.

Politicians hate the first category (Lovely), try to woo the second (Lazy) and truly love the last one (Lousy). In the absence of any societal effort to educate the gullible masses about the real value of their votes, loads of work is in store for concerned citizens like Dr RSP. Today's Telangana politics reached a new low with a same set of politicians wresting power by hook or crook. Powers-that-be, in addition to money and muscle power, are basking on unviable schemes and poll-time freebies at the cost of the public exchequer. Akin to Kejriwal and Dr JP, a massive mass campaigns aimed at changing

the mindset of voters on the lines of 'parivarthana' Dr RSP undertook as the Superintendent of Police are the need of the hour. Kanshi Ram-style of very simple but effective campaigns, without any hype, should be planned before announcing a political outfit.

Policies: Education-Health-Economy

The second issue to be stressed, Policies. Dr RSP has struck the right chord by making education, health and economy (aksharam, aarogyam, aarthikam) as his agenda. The first two issues, the highly disturbing factors that have a tremendous impact on the finances of the downtrodden and middle-class across all castes, are more relevant than ever before given the exorbitant costs involved in education and health.

Having proven to the world the magic one can create with innovative, holistic initiatives in the social welfare hostels, Dr RSP remains a hope for millions of underprivileged parents. A special focus on imparting soft skills and an emphasis on international higher education are the twin tools for the social upliftment of the marginalized in Telangana. Without much ado, both English and Telugu should be accorded priority in the same breath.

Next, Health, the common man's grave concern now. Ruined by the outrageous costs for hospitalisation and medicines during the Covid-19 second wave, people are in resentful mood against the government. Hopefully, RSP is working on an alternative plan to strengthen the public healthcare system to ensure free and hassle-free health for public. The third theme of the slogan, aarthikam, is a bit vague but it is believed that the most critical issues such as unemployment and agriculture are part of this aspect. It is wise to provide employment opportunities while creating an ecosystem to turn downtrodden into entrepreneurs. It is pertinent to mention here that only Teenmar Mallanna, a force to reckon with, is the only voice that gives the much-needed thrust on education and health and Dr RSP's three-point agenda is clearer and broader than that of "Welfare, Self-reliance and Equality' (Sankshemam, Swayam Samruddhi and Samaanatvam), the agenda of the YSR Telangana Party launched by the late Chief Minister's daughter Sharmila on July 8, 2021.

Partnerships with a purpose

The third component is political partnerships or alliances. In tune with the changed times, Kanshi Ram broadened the concept of 'Dalits' by reaching out to 'Bahujan Samaj.' His protégé Mayawati, a four-time Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh, embraced upper castes, the onetime nemeses, in her quest for political power. Bringing various groups with more or less a common cause under one umbrella is vital to ensure the consolidation of the vote bank. The BCs (about 40 percent in the population) are polarised in Telangana and the Muslim community (more than 10 percent) has compelling reasons to side with the MIM. There is a visible rift within the SCs (18 percent). In this backdrop, Dr RSP needs a highly holistic and pragmatic approach to rope in various sections into his fold.

Press for public opinion

Last but not the least, the press, I mean entire media, as the moulder of public opinion. Till the advent of the social media, a major section of Telugu newspapers and TV channels, known for their political affiliations with cross-commercial interests, were in a position to make or break a political party or its leader. Still, leading media houses have a say in creating public opinion. Social media is a wonderful tool for freshers in politics, but it proved to be trivial and nonserious on vital issues that plague society. Much before taking a plunge into politics, a fool-proof media-communication strategy should be in place.

Leading a political outfit in a highly fragmented society and corrupt system amidst various pulls and pressures is not a mean job. The mainstream political parties have the wherewithal to silence opponents. The powerful monsters and deadly sharks are out there in the arena ever ready to malign the reputation of any person, if feel threatened. On the other hand, people are tricked in to believing that there are castles in the air and a moon in hand. One may have the highest commitment and extraordinary experience in dealing people but a lot of patience and tact are needed to deal with the present-day political system in the process of achieving the goal of 'political power.'

Kanshi Ram once said the party (BSP) would fight first election to lose, next to get noticed and the third election to win. He meant that a leader should be ready for a protracted battle to clinch political power.

Now, the moot question: Is Dr RSP in for a long-term fight to fulfil the dreams of the doyens of social justice?

(The author, a PhD in Communication and Journalism, is a senior journalist, journalism educator and communication consultant)

(The opinions expressed in this column are that of the writer. The facts and opinions expressed here do not reflect the views of The Hans India)

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