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The 1975 Emergency made me take Civils

The 1975 Emergency made me take Civils
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Dr Jaya Prakash Narayana, also called JP, is a physician, a former civil servant and now a politician. The founder and president of the Lok Satta...

Dr Jaya Prakash Narayana, also called JP, is a physician, a former civil servant and now a politician. The founder and president of the Lok Satta Party, he was also a Member of the Legislative Assembly (MLA) from the Kukatpally constituency in erstwhile Andhra Pradesh. He is known for his work on electoral reforms and the RTI act. He points out at the 1984 emergency led him to take his Civil Services. In an interview with NAVIN PIVHAL, JP talks about his illustrious career and his vision for the youth.

I was born on January 14, 1956 in Naghbir, Maharashtra. We shifted to Godavarru, Krishna District when I was three. I did my schooling here in Telugu medium. I was a topper in school but not a typical student like one would think. I would go to sleep by 7 pm.

I had immense hunger for knowledge even as a kid. I would read anything and everything I could lay my hands on. I would complete my curriculum in a week or two and spend the rest of the year reading books. I mostly took to Telugu weekly magazines and rarely read newspapers. Since it was a rural area, there weren't many books in the library. So I would make do with whatever I’d get.

After schooling, I joined Andhra Loyola College in Vijayawada for further education. I was very good at Mathematics and loved the subject but I chose BiPC as my mother wanted me to be a doctor. Once I joined Andhra Loyola College, the world opened up to me. I spent most of my time in the library reading various books. My Telugu background made it tough for me to converse in English. Although, a few weeks later, I was comfortable, thanks to my Anglo-Indian friends in college.

I joined Guntur Medical College for my degree. Here, I’d sharpened my acumen in national and international politics. I would listen to BBC World Broadcast for eight hours a day. And so, I was very well informed for my age. Also, I would read at least one book a day and comb through every single newspaper. I was 22 ½ years old when I completed my MBBS.

The 1984 Emergency and its aftermath disturbed me profusely. Someone just said, “If you want to bring about a change why don’t you become an IAS officer.” I went on to pursue my Civil Services. I would dedicate only 2-3 hours to prepare for Civils and took only History and Politics as my majors. The rest of my time would be dedicated to reading books on various subjects and listening to BBC. I just walked through the Civils exam and did not feel it was tough. I secured all-India rank 5, which was later upgraded to All India 2 based on my academic performance.

My training was in Karimnagar. It was also a learning experience for me. Many people in the academy believed in me. I was posted to Narsipatnam after my training. In my career, I rehabilitated around 8,000 youth from displaced families of the Visakhapatnam Steel Plant, designed the reconstruction of the drainage and irrigation network in Krishna, (Prakasam) and Godavari deltas, encouraged farmers on a large scale to take up irrigation schemes and brought about more than two lakh acres under irrigation. I also strengthened the credit cooperatives by making them independent of government control.

My tenures as secretary to both the Governor and the chief minister of Andhra Pradesh N T Rama Rao were unforgettable experiences. The year 1996 marked the end of my tenure as an IAS officer as I wanted to work at the grass root level for good governance. Because my aim was not to secure a job, I did not even wait for my pension. I had only joined services to bring about a change and I could do so.

I started the Lok Satta movement in 1996 to spread awareness on elections, rights and the government. We worked on various activities like election reforms, right to information act, police reforms and voter registration procedures. But it was only in 2006 that I started the Lok Satta party.

We have to inspire the youth. I personally think we should give the youth of the nation the required tools and the platform and mobilise them. That will encourage them to act. Our education system is one of the worst in the world. We should reform it. Lastly, I say go after your heart and do what you are passionate about.

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