Not just promises, look for capacity to deliver them

Not just promises, look for capacity to deliver them

Dr. Jayaprakash Narayana, popularly known as JP, needs no introduction.

Dr. Jayaprakash Narayana, popularly known as JP, needs no introduction. He is a physician by training. He joined the IAS following the emergency and failure of the Janata experiment. Dr Narayan’s experience in government convinced him that a flawed governance process was the most significant impediment to India and Indians achieving greater success; and what India requires is a fundamental change in the rules of the game, rather than a periodic change of players. He resigned in 1996 and founded Lok Satta and Foundation for Democratic Reforms (FDR) along with colleagues who shared his vision, to improve governance at the state and the local levels by promoting service guarantees, education, healthcare, local government empowerment, judicial, political, and police reforms, and anti-corruption measures. In a candid chat, he delves deep into crucial topics - economy, youth, policies, reforms, governance, etc. Excerpts:

AP has 15.44 lakh first-time voters, of whom 3.6 lakh are 18–19 years old. What suggestions would you give to these voters to make right choice, as mass hysteria and blind favouritism are prevalent in Andhra?

It ought to be universally recognised, with particular emphasis on the younger generation, that the purpose of government or governance is to satisfy the necessities and demands of the entire society. While certain facets, such as education, marriage, and career paths, are subject to an individual, others, including law and order, infrastructure, and healthcare, require governmental intervention. The youth must recognise that the government must be accountable to the people and that the entire system functions on the funds we contribute through taxes. The first-time voters ought to exercise discerning judgement and logical deliberation when selecting their candidates, avoiding the allure of freebies and external influence that may coerce them otherwise.

Social media and print/electronic media have a huge impact on voters, sometimes in a wrong and harmful way. How do you think neutral voters can be influenced to make wise voting decisions?

While it is reasonable to anticipate responsible behaviour from the media, complete reliance on them for political transparency is unwarranted. It is imperative that the populace, including young people, in every city, town, and village remain vigilant regarding the government’s fulfilment of its responsibilities and commitments. They must make an informed choice that will have a lasting impact on their lives and futures. Voters must possess the cognitive capacity to discern between legitimate and illegitimate information disseminated from diverse sources.

Lok Satta supported the BJP in the 2014 elections, though the party was also contesting. But in this scenario of the 2024 elections, why are people concerned about Dr JP supporting the alliance? You always say that development and welfare should go hand in hand. Is the alliance that you are supporting bound to follow this mantra, and can you give assurance to the people of AP on their behalf?

We supported the BJP government in 2014 due to the progress Narendra Modi demonstrated in Gujarat, the slogan he coined, and the egregious errors of the Congress government at the time, such as the provision of freebies, improper use of funds to entice voters, and 2G spectrum scam. As 2024 polls approach, the figures pertaining to infrastructure development, financial discipline, minimising fund waste, and investments in India under the leadership of Narendra Modi are noteworthy. The remaining political parties are not even remotely close to presenting a clear agenda that addresses the nation’s most pressing concerns.

Welfare and development ought to be reciprocal driving forces at all times, like the two wheels of a cart. A cart will come crashing down even if either of the wheels is unbalanced for an extremely brief duration. This theory is equally applicable to a nation and its states. The present investment climate in AP is dreadful, and the state is beset by an enormous loan burden. Considering his tenure as the former Chief Minister of AP, Chandrababu Naidu is another promising leader, which is why I am presently supporting the BJP-TDP-Janasena alliance in the state… with the expectation that the alliance will facilitate significant advancements in pending projects within the state, such as Polavaram, and transform Amaravati into a greenfield city, along with one hundred other small towns, capable of self-sufficiency.

Considering its performance over the past four years, the current AP government appears to be unconcerned with the state’s progress; rather, it is harassing and smearing the other candidates.

Serious contenders are spending Rs 50-100 crore for elections in the southern states. You’ve mentioned in one interview that if power leads to money and money leads to power, it’s a vicious cycle. How do we break that cycle?

My sole piece of advice for young people is to critically examine the motives behind a political leader’s extravagant expenditure on campaign expenses, given that their true intention is to serve the public interest. It is imperative that every voter comprehends that an unjustifiable zeal for victory and an enormous willingness to invest crores of rupees in election can result in an unjust circumstance wherein welfare and development are not assured.

What do you think of the education scenario in the Telugu states?

Education alone possesses the capacity to alter the course of events for any family, regardless of their socioeconomic standing, caste, creed, or religion. The National Achievement

Survey reveals that the pass percentage for students ranges from 90 to 96%; however, there is significant scepticism regarding the students’ intellectual capacity. Telangana spends approximately Rs 80,000 per student on education in government schools and colleges, while AP spends approximately 90,000. Students’ capabilities remain obscure, despite the fact that the infrastructure of government schools and colleges has unquestionably improved since the past. Annually, a diminishing proportion of students are enrolling in educational institutions and colleges within the southern states. The yearly selection of teachers, despite the decline in student enrollment, fails to adequately address students’ comprehension and grasping abilities, which is a significant cause for concern.

In what way are the upcoming AP elections defining elections not just for the state but for the country?

Currently, financial development and progress are of the utmost importance for our state and the nation as a whole. The incoming administration must improve our rate of progress to 7–8% with a well-defined agenda and objective regarding infrastructure development, fiscal discipline and progress, investment encouragement, and income growth. Establishing ourselves economically over the next 25 years will require a rise in inflows and a decline in outflows. It remains to be seen whether we will confront the challenges and storms head-on, or whether we will passively endure the political dramas. Your vote is going to your state and the nation, not the political leaders!

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