Monday, October 31, 2011
Ration shop dealers in Tirupati allege that officials are not allowing them to sell essential commodities other than the rice, sugar, kerosene, and palm oil supplied by the Government. There are no such restrictions on ration shop dealers elsewhere in the State, they maintain.
Representatives of ration shop dealers called on Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan here today and requested him to take up their problems with the State Government.
The dealers complained that officials were forcing them to sell sub-standard red gram dal the Government supplies them occasionally and threatening to cut off supplies of essential commodities if they sold good quality stuff at less than the Government rate.
The dealers would like the Andhra Pradesh Government to emulate its Tamil Nadu counterpart and meet their expenditure on rent for shop and salary for a clerk and provide them house sites, and life insurance and healthcare facilities.
Dr. JP told the delegation led by Rajeswaramma and P. Bindu Sri that he would take up their demands with the Civil Supplies Department.
Mahila Satta leaders N. Sarojadevi, S. Manorama, Sridevi, C. Lakshmirajyam, and Chittoor Lok Satta leaders P. Nageswara Rao and Sainatha Reddy took part in the meeting with Dr. JP.
The Lok Satta Party today requested the Andhra Pradesh Government to go in appeal against a judgment of the High Court stipulating uniform fees for students under both the convener and management quotas for admission to professional educational colleges.
In a media statement, party General Secretary Katari Srinivsasa Rao pointed out that the decision would impose an additional burden of at least Rs.20,000 a year on BC, SC, ST, minority, and EBC students who get admission under the convener quota but whose parents' annual income exceeds Rs.1,00,000.
Mr. Srinivasa Rao said the decision would cost the State exchequer an additional Rs.700 crore a year. With professional colleges mushrooming in the wake of reimbursement of tuition fees of a majority of students by the Government, an increase in the quantum of fees will give scope for more malpractices, Mr. Srinivasa Rao warned.
He, therefore, appealed to the State Government to appeal against the High Court judgment.
Saturday, October 29, 2011
The Lok Satta Party is launching a campaign in 100 mandals from November 1 to mobilize farmers on demands like a reasonable price for khariff paddy, provision of basic amenities at purchase centers and an assistance package for drought-hit areas.
A party sub-committee dealing with rural activities decided on the action program at a meeting held at the party headquarters here today. The mandals chosen for the action program are around municipalities where the party is engaged in strengthening its organization.
Giving this information in a media statement, Lok Satta Party Vice President and sub-committee Convener Y. D. Rama Rao said that the Government seems to be bent on taking farmers for a ride once again by announcing plans to buy kharif paddy without taking care of storage space and providing amenities at purchase centers. He pointed out that the minimum support price for paddy is not at all remunerative considering the steep increase in the cost of production and a fall in production because of adverse weather. Farmers should get a bonus of at least Rs.200 a bag either from the Union or the State Government.
A long-term solution to ensuring a fair and remunerative price to farmers lies in permitting rice exports on time, he added.
Mr. Rama Rao demanded that the Government declare the mandals hit by drought and announce an assistance package without further delay.
He said the party would form Mahila Satta, Yuva Satta and Sarva Jana Satta units in rural areas by December.
Mrs. S. Manorama, Eeda Chennayya, K. Gita Murthy and K. Anjaneyulu took part in the sub-committee meeting.
Friday, October 28, 2011
Lok Satta Party State Working President D. V. V. S. Varma today welcomed the Medical Council of India decision to conduct a National Eligibility and Entrance Test (NEET) for under-graduate medical education. “A common examination will not merely improve standards of education but also enable more Andhra Pradesh students to get medical seats in the country.”
Mr. Varma recalled in a media statement that the Supreme Court had suggested 27 years ago that 15 percent of seats in medical colleges all over the country be set apart for a national pool and they be filled based on an all-India common test. Andhra and Jammu Kashmir, however, chose not to set apart 15 percent of their seats for the national pool.
Mr. Varma pointed out that the standards of Andhra Pradesh students appearing for all competitive examinations like the JEE for IIT admission have always been higher. Andhra Pradesh students gain more seats than their share in the population. The intense demand for seats in professional colleges and the sprouting of institutions to coach students account for their sterling performance.
Yet, Andhra Pradesh students have not been able to get admission in medical colleges outside the State as the State would not allot seats to outside students based on the common entrance test.
Mr. Varma said that the State Government should ensure that the entrance exam is held in Telugu also so that students who complete Intermediate in the Telugu medium do not suffer. He also suggested that technical terms used in question papers conform to those used in Telugu Academy textbooks. A committee of experts from the Telugu Academy and the Intermediate Board should be constituted to hold talks with the authority which is to conduct the common examination.
Mr. Varma said that a standardized admission would help improve the quality of higher education. Insular and parochial approach should give way to a national approach gradually.
Thursday, October 27, 2011
The Lok Satta Party is planning to launch a united, non-partisan movement against arbitrary increase in property tax in municipalities.
In-charges of Lok Satta municipal committees, who met at the party headquarters here today with party Working President D. V. V. S. Varma in the chair, felt that the tax increase ranging from 500 to 1000 percent without any improvement in citizen services contravenes the Government’s own Assessement of Taxes Rules, 1990.
Participants pointed out that special officers, now ruling civic bodies in the absence of elected representatives, raised the tax capriciously. They cited an instance in which the tax on an apartment was raised from Rs.3000 to Rs.80000.
Giving this information in a media statement, party leaders Katari Srinivasa Rao and K. Omkar said that a Lok Satta Party team would visit municipal towns and cities in the first week of November to mobilize the public for an agitation. It would associate local chambers of commerce, ratepayers’ associations, resident welfare associations and other civic society representatives with the planned movement.
The party demands that the civic bodies improve their services in tune with the citizen’s charter and fix the property tax on a rational basis.
The Lok Satta Party would call for a ‘no-tax campaign’ if the authorities went ahead with the hike in the property tax without improving services concerning drinking water, sanitation, education, healthcare and roads. If the services are not commensurate with the tax paid, people can legitimately refuse to pay the tax, said Mr. Katari Srinivasa Rao.
Tuesday, October 25, 2011
It is akin to the devil quoting the scripture, commented the Lok Satta Party on the TDP and Congress chanting the youth mantra these days.
In a media statement, Lok Satta Party Working President D. V. V. S. Varma and General Secretary Katari Srinivasa Rao counseled the youth to be on their guard since the traditional parties are not sincere or serious of practicing what they preach. They pointed out that the traditional parties remembered the youth after the Lok Satta had announced that it would give party ticket to committed and competent youth to contest elections and lead the party, irrespective of their religion and caste, region and language, economic status and sex. They are trying to masquerade their dynastic politics by claiming to empower the youth.
TDP President N. Chandrababu Naidu remembered the youth for the first time in nearly three decades when he said that he would give 30 percent of party tickets to them. That top TDP leaders are engaged in a dynastic battle is a public secret. Even if the TDP were to give 30 percent of party tickets youth, they would comprise sons and daughters, daughters-in-law or sons-in-law of TDP MLAs.
Similarly, State Congress President Botsa Satyanarayana, who had the dubious distinction of cornering all important positions in his home district for his kith and kin, was indulging in hyperbole when he claims to induct the youth into the party.
The Lok Satta leaders said both the State Congress and the TDP were trying to replicate the example of children succeeding their parents in Parliament in the name of making way for youth.
They demanded that the two traditional parties declare they would give party tickets to committed and competent youth, without reference to their political pedigree, and implement it in practice.
Lok Satta Party President has requested Chief Minister N. Kiran Kumar Reddy to concede the unemployed youth’s request for a one-time age relaxation for recruitment of sub-inspectors of police.
Dr. JP recalled that the SI recruitments were notified in 2008, but the written examination was held only in August 2011. For over three years, there has been no recruitment. Now there is a proposal to notify 2200 vacancies.
“The job-seekers are, therefore, seeking a one-time age relaxation to 28 years for OCs. I fully appreciate the concern of the Home Department that the quality of recruitment may suffer if excessive age relaxation is given. Also incentives in the job may diminish if selected candidates do not have long enough service remaining.
“However, given the conditions of unemployment prevailing, and the special circumstances that prevented recruitment of SIs for over three years,” Dr. JP requested the Chief Minister “to give a one-time age exemption for a suitable period.” He also wanted the Chief Minster to ensure that recruitments were completed annually on the basis of available or anticipated vacancies, particularly in critical departments.
Friday, October 21, 2011
The State Working Committee of the Lok Satta Party is meeting at Kakinanda in East Godavari district on October 22 and 23, with Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, party President, in the chair.
The committee will finalize institutional arrangements for implementing the action plan drawn up on its fifth anniversary at Ongole earlier this month, said party General Secretary Katari Srinivasa Rao in a media statement.
The Lok Satta Party today welcomed the RTC decision to make up for losses suffered by bus pass holders by extending the validity of their passes for the duration of the strike by RTC workers. Issuance of bus passes making up for days lost to those who have already renewed their passes and those who have taken new identity cards on expiry of old ones and extension of the working hours of counters issuing passes are welcome, said Lok Satta Party’s GHMC unit convener M. Satyanarayana.
The Lok Satta Party leader wanted the RTC to extend the benefit to student and physically challenged bus pass holders, and open more counters for issuance of passes.
Thursday, October 20, 2011
The failure of the Government to address the growing agrarian crisis is resulting in farmers resorting to vandalism at market yards, charged the Lok Satta Party today. If both the Union and State Governments persist with their anti-farmer policies, there is the risk of farmers extending holiday to all crops in all regions and hitting the road, warned Lok Satta Party Working President D. V. V. S. Varma and Secretary P. Bhaskara Rao in a media statement here today.
The Lok Satta leaders pointed out that the State Government has not taken steps to ensure even minimum support prices, let alone remunerative prices, for agricultural produce, although farmers are groaning under the burden of higher cost of production. Farmers and tenants this year have had to reckon with an increase in the prices of seed and fertilizers, higher wages, usurious interest rates in the wake of banks’ failure to extend them liberal loans, and frequent power cuts and adverse weather conditions.
Mr. Varma and Mr. Bhaskara Rao instanced how traders are taking cotton growers for a ride by denying them a fair price. Although adverse weather and frequent power cuts have brought down cotton yields and there are no controls on exports, traders are deliberately depressing cotton prices. Instead of remaining a mute spectator, the State Government should persuade the the Cotton Corporation of India to enter the market and lift cotton at not less than Rs.7000 a quintal. Farmers should also be enabled to get loans against produce stored in warehouses.
The Lok Satta leaders demanded that the Government announce a State Advisory Price of Rs.2500 per ton of sugarcane. In the absence of an SAP, factories bought cane at rates varying from Rs.1900 to Rs.2250 last year. Similarly, the Government should announce a bonus of Rs.200 per bag of paddy. It should announce a special relief package to farmers in 470 drought-hit mandals.
Tuesday, October 18, 2011
He doesn't just share his name with a revolutionary; he too is leading a revolution, a revolution to bring good governance and social change through clean politics and to change the way politics is conducted in this country.
DR. JAYAPRAKASH NARAYAN or JP as he is popularly known is a physician turned IAS officer, who quit the service and founded Loksatta (people's movement) in 1996. 15 years later he is the national president of the Loksatta party and the party's first sitting MLA from Kukatpally in Andhra Pradesh. Now the flag bearer of citizen driven clean politics in the country JP, 56, is widely acknowledged to have ushered in a new kind of politics with good governance and citizen participation as its pivot. At a time when Mumbai is facing a mega crisis of development and infrastructure, the upcoming BMC polls are touted to be most crucial for Mumbai's future.
JP's Loksatta, with citizen initiated politics at its forefront, too has decided to jump into the poll fray. In Mumbai to launch Loksatta's poll campaign JP speaks his mind on the need for change in politics, the need to have an organised political party and tell us how empowered citizens can usher in change. In search for yet another revolution, nothing drives change like politics does, JP says.
Q. Loksatta's thrust has always been citizen's driven clean politics for better governance? What does it mean in real terms and how do you look at it electorally?
A. Loksatta was initially a civil society initiative bit it has come a long way from then. We are a fully functional political party with presence in almost four states today. Educated, middle class candidates have enthusiastically come forward to fight the elections under the Loksatta banner. 21st century India cannot be run with 19th century politics and governance. The best and brightest must be attracted and provided a platform for making genuine change happen. A basket of administrative, political, electoral and judicial reforms are required over the next few years to drive India towards achieving its potential for that we need constructive political engagement with various stakeholders, which cannot happen without electoral politics. It might sound clichéd but at the end of the day, politics is all about numbers and I feel nothing can drive change like politics does.
Q. At the BMC polls here in Mumbai there are several other citizen groups that have joined the poll fray. What makes Loksatta different and why do you think it is a ' political party' rather than citizen groups present a better alternative? A. It is a heartening to know that citizen groups have come forward and we welcome them. But in politics individual efforts don't last. The existing political set up is too powerful and only a political party with a collective identity can capture the imagination of the people.
A. Party has a common goal, ideology and discipline, there is a constitution and a party is bound by anti- defection laws, so no member can take the other for a ride.
We need a party to generate funds too, and let me be frank; there can be no politics without money.
What we need is clean politics with money that is accountable for. Electoral politics only brings about a change of players, not a change in the rules of the game. Without an effective alternative, there won't be any change and only a political party can be that credible alternative.
Q. But there is widespread political apathy in India especially in cities and amongst the youth, how do you think that can change?
A. Young people have abdicated politics and the country is paying a heavy price for that. Politics is not for private gain but it is a noble profession with a noble cause. It should be treated like one. I always say the answer to bad politics is not no to politics but good politics. India is in trouble because of bad politics, not because of politics in itself. Unless people participate in politics there can't be any change. A romantic idea of citizenship is necessary but not sufficient, unless there is active political work the scenario will not change.
Q. But all these citizen groups including Loksatta are city based with little or no impact in rural areas which control a large chunk of electoral seats? Don't you think the entire citizen buzz is elitist and urbanised?
A. Initially, all such activity is urban but I believe in rural areas it will catch up even faster. Our capacity is limited; it's our weaknesses that we aren't able to reach out to them ( rural masses) and not their weaknesses. Rural change can in fact be faster than urban change. There is no difference between urban and rural areas as far as the need or quest for clean politics is concerned. Rural areas play a much more important role in politics than urban areas and it is they who need good governance and development more than the rich and middle classes. Reform can be done much more easily by the urban middle class, which is natural since they have access to all means of reform but eventually reforms will penetrate into rural society and that will bring real change.
Q. You are into politics and activism for almost two decades now. Where are we heading and what change do you see in the days to come, in politics and people's approach to politics?
A. Today, there is need to promote ethical political parties. One cannot afford to shy away from politics, which will be the worst scenario.
It requires a lot of hard work to build consensus and gain people's confidence.
People who are running away from politics should realise the importance of politics. It is a long drawn process and can't be a one shot attempt. Traditional parties too should realise that with access to information and media, people are not going to except status quo, they will start asking questions and will not take things lying down. The sooner they realise, the better for them and for the system too that the current scheme of politics is unsustainable. The time has come for clean politics. Loksatta has shown the power of one. If there is will and effort change can happen.
Courtesy: Free Press Journal
Monday, October 17, 2011
Friday, October 14, 2011
The Lok Satta Party has fielded candidates for the post of Mayor in Chennai, Coimbatore, Erode, and Tiruchi Municipal Corporations in the elections scheduled for October 17 and 19.
The party, which is contesting from select constituencies in Tamil Nadu local body elections, has chosen young, educated and service-minded middle class people as its candidates.
Giving this information in a media statement, party General Secretary Katari Srinivasa Rao said today that the Lok Satta aims at ushering in people-centered politics in a State known for its dynastic and corrupt politics.
Mr. D. Jagadeeswaran, the Lok Satta candidate for the Chennai Mayor post, is a 29-year-old software engineer. He had contested from Ambattur in the April 2011 elections to the Tamil Nadu Assembly and polled considerable number of votes.
The Lok Satta Party has pledged to empower people by forming ward governments with elected representatives. In the 16 divisions it is contesting in Chennai, it has drawn up ward-wise manifestos, which promise time-bound resolution of people’s problems.
Wednesday, October 12, 2011
Monday, October 10, 2011
The Lok Satta Party has drawn up an action plan to strengthen itself organizationally in 100 towns and 400 mandals covering some 200 Andhra Pradesh Assembly constituencies by March 2012. The party has also decided to enter into discussions with all political forces and organizations as part of its plan to present an alternative to traditional parties in the 2014 Assembly elections.
Giving this information in a media statement, Lok Satta Party Working President D. V. V. S. Varma said that the leadership summit the party conducted on its fifth anniversary at Ongole on October 8 and 9 formed sub-committees to mount sustained agitations on public issues.
Mr. Varma pointed out that traditional parties, which are responsible for centralizing power and perpetuating poverty, are straining every nerve to come back to power although they are not equipped to address the crisis facing the State. Steeped in corruption and trading charges against each other, the traditional parties have become part of the problem, he said.
In contrast, Mr. Varma said, the Lok Satta Party would approach the public with its specific agenda including empowerment of local governments, employment of youth, eradication of corruption, justice to farmers, and restriction of liquor consumption.