Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Aarogyasri : Lok Satta challenges Botsa for a debate

The Lok Satta Party today charged the Government with enriching private and corporate hospitals by aggressively promoting “Rajiv Aarogyasri” and by quietly withdrawing from the health care sector in its bid to privatize it.

In a strong rejoinder to Housing Minister Botsa Satyanarayana taking exception to Lok Satta Party’s criticism of “Aarogyasri”, party spokesman Karthik Chandra challenged the Minister for a public debate. Of the 7600 surgeries performed under “Aarogyasri” until December 1, 2007, 95 per cent had been done in private and corporate hospitals and that three hospitals groups cornered the lion’s share of the insurance amounts.

Mr. Karthik Chandra said it was a matter of shame that the Government advertised the scheme as a boon to the poor by arranging for 7600 surgeries till now, ignoring the grim reality that every year six million people were sliding below the poverty line, most of them unable to pay for their medical care. “Aarogyasri” covers only a few rare ailments but not ailments like gastroenteritis, diarrhea, malaria, encephalitis and dengue and dog and snake bites that plague the common man most.

Mr. Karthik Chandra said “Aarogyasri” was nothing but “corporatesri” in that it was meant to benefit them and not the poor people.

Thursday, December 20, 2007

"Is Government fuelling caste wars?" Asks Lok Satta

Dr. JP Advocates 10% Weightage to Poor

Hyderabad, Dec. 20 - Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan (Dr. JP) today came down heavily on the Andhra Pradesh Government's "insincere and cynical" decision to constitute a commission to go into the inclusion of Kapus and 17 other castes among backward castes.

Addressing a media conference, Dr. JP said "the manipulative decision is meant to drive a wedge between Kapus and other backward castes to derive short-term political gains."

There is indeed backwardness and deprivation among Kapus and for long they have demanded that they be included among backward castes. But the timing and manner of the decision makes it amply clear that the Government is motivated not by a genuine desire to help those suffering from deprivation and discrimination, it has all of a sudden resurrected the long ignored demand apparently in the light of the changing political firmament in Andhra Pradesh.

The decision will merely spark another 'kula kurusketra' (caste war of epic proportion) like the ones between Malas and Madigas in Andhra Pradesh and Gujjars and Meenas in Rajasthan.
Need for scientific study

Dr. JP said that several disadvantaged communities have genuine grievances about their non-inclusion in reservations, or wrong classification of BCs, SCs or STs. He demanded that all such communities should be carefully considered and included among categories eligible for various reservations only after a scientific, independent, objective and credible analysis of their economic, social, cultural and anthropological background. Without such a study, the Mandal Commission had included Kamma, Reddy and Telaga castes among other backward castes. Any unscientific effort will merely trigger irresistible demands for inclusion of every community as in Tamil Nadu and Karnataka.

But pending a scientific study, the Lok Satta Party believes, that justice can be rendered by awarding 10 per cent weightage in marks to children from poor families and with rural background irrespective of their community in both admissions to educational institutions and Government jobs. If a qualifying exam has total marks of 1000, children from poor and rural backgrounds shall be added 100 marks to their score. Then they too will be in a position to compete with their wealthy, urban counterparts.

"The Lok Satta Party is irrevocably committed to such a weightage in all competitive examinations for higher education including in MBBS, engineering and other professional courses and for Government jobs for all poor and rural children. Dr. JP said such a formula will once and for all guarantee justice to all communities and ensure that the Government does not exceed the 50 per cent ceiling on reservations mandated by the Supreme Court". Existing reservations can thus be continued that yet justice can be done to all deserving, underprivileged children irrespective of caste.

Free quality education to all
Dr. JP demanded that the Government provide at its cost quality education in English medium up to the 12th class to all children and higher education to all deserving and desirous students irrespective of their means. "The Lok Satta Party has, therefore, made quality school education to all children and free higher education to deserving students of all castes the centerpiece of its political and social agenda. Eventually caste should be abolished over a generation and our children should grow up with their heads held high, untainted by caste and parochialism, Only then will the dream of Dr. Ambedkar be realized".
At present only seven per cent of all children pursue higher education while 93 per cent do not go to school or pursue higher education. Even the seven per cent in the 11-14 age group that attend school are victims of poor quality education. Thirty per cent of them cannot read a single passage in any language while 70 per cent cannot answer even a simple arithmetic problem like division.
Dr. JP also called for the establishment of schools and hostels and provision of scholarships to children of EBCs (economically backward castes). Government apathy towards education of SC and ST children was evident from its failure to spend Rs.342 crore, as pointed out by CAG in its latest report.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Lok Satta's "Grama Nyayalaya" Initiative Gets the Cabinet Nod

Parliament to approve seven-year fight for common man's justice
After a stiff resistance within the government, the cabinet finally approved the "Grama Nyayalaya" bill after seven long years.

Lok Satta, pioneer of political and governance reforms in the country had spearheaded this cause and submitted a report with the aforesaid "Grama Nyayala" initiative to "The National Advisory Council" 2003 in order to facilitate speedy justice at the grass root levels in the country.

According to Dr Jayaprakash Narayan, "it definitely is a satisfying moment not only for us but also for the cause of democracy and rule of law.

Commenting further, he stated "It is the most important step towards implementation of speedy justice. We at Loksatta movement had been fighting for this since its inception. Loksatta party painstakingly drafted this bill and pursued it at every level right from the beginning" he added.

He further stated" There is a market to demand for criminals to provide rough and ready justice through brutal means. This lead to criminalization of the society and politics as well. Without rule of law, due process and speady justice, democracy becomes illusory to the bulk of the people.

"Once this bill is implemented, it will be a great step towards a more efficient and accessible justice system. But for local justice to be effective, the police must be reformed. The crime investigation process should be made independent of partisan politics and at the same time made accountable", he said.

He further emphasised that "These local courts should conduct trials in local language and there is a dire need for "mobile courts" where in the courts will go to the location or crime or dispute and record evidence. This will substancially eliminate perjury. These courts would be an integral part of the independent justice sytem with a provision for appearance of lawyers to represent the clients"

Dr JP summed up by saying "A free society cannot exist without accessible systems of justice. Indian judiciary and legal profession have set high standards of excellence. But the bulk of the people are beyond the pale of our justice system. We need to restore public confidence in our legal system, and ensure peace, order and harmony in society. Many reforms are required to provide speedy, accessible and efficient justice. One simple, low-cost, effective, painless solution is the institution of local courts following summary procedures. This measure is not sufficient to address the monumental crisis facing our judiciary, but is a necessary first step in that direction".

If local courts are appointed at the rate of one per 50,000 in rural areas, and one per 1,00,000 in urban areas, we will have about 15,000 new mobile magistrates accessible to people at the local level, providing justice at the door-step, following simple, easy and citizen-friendly procedures, and ensuring all these at a very low cost, which can be recovered in multiples by imposition of even a small court fee. The presence of lawyers, effective mechanisms for monitoring and accountability, and provision for appeal, guarantee fairness in the process and real justice to the poor. The whole Local Courts system will be an integral part of the independent judiciary, and fully controlled by the judiciary. This ensures strict separation of powers as envisaged in the Constitution, and effective supervision and control by the judiciary.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Lok Satta announces state-wide anti-corruption movement

People's Commission against Political Corruption

Are you tired of reading newspaper headlines on political corruption every day?

  • Do you know about a politician who is blatantly corrupt? Do you have some information on a public servant earning .tons of money. illegally?
  • Do you know about a public work, government project or a scheme where unscrupulous politicians, middle-men and contractors are misusing public money and resources?
  • Do you know about abuse of authority, land grab or blatant violation of public norms?
Our governments and political parties have utterly failed in catching and punishing those involved in serious, top-level corruption. Every once-in-a-while they make a show of catching the small-fry, but the big fish? They always managed to get away. Until now.

In order to highlight and combat the menace of corruption, Lok Satta Party has constituted a People's Commission against Corruption. The Commission will be chaired by Justice Ramanujan, former Lok Ayukta of AP. Other members of the Commission will be named in consultation with the Chairman within a week's time.

It is time, we, the citizens do our bit to uproot political corruption from our State. All you need to do is give us information about any corrupt politician, unscrupulous middlemen or about a scam in a public work. The best part is, you can do it in an easy, safe and anonymous manner!

People's Commission Against Corruption:

You can directly send your complaints to this Commission about:

  • Vast undisclosed assets of politicians and public servants (with as much documentary evidence as possible).
  • Gross acts of corruption by public servants in contracts, tenders, postings, transfers, etc.
    Blatant misuse of office - serious instances of nepotism and favouritism
  • Misuse and misappropriation of public money/resources; serious instances of cheating and fraud by public servants
  • Land grabbing; unjust allocation of land and land alienation (resulting in wrongful loss to public and/or wrongful gain to any individual)
  • All forms of irregularities in public works and contracts; major cases of over estimates; any case where tenders pertaining to public money is actually executed by a sub-contractor - at a cost of 80% or lower than the bid price.
You can send your complaints with supporting documents/evident directly to the People's Commission Against Corruption by post, phone, and through email/internet.

How can you provide information on corruption:

A dedicated mailing address has been created to receive your complaints and information: PO Box 100, Hyderabad . 500 004. In case you wish to inform via telephone, our team of experienced volunteers are on standby: just call 040 . 2323-2711 anytime between 8 AM and 9 PM and our volunteers will help you provide the information, discreetly. You can also email complaints and information to

A website has been launched where information will be posted about the information regarding electoral candidates. disclosures, assets and liabilities of legislators.

Post P O Box 100 Hyderabad 4
Phone 040-2323-2711 (8:00 AM to 9:00 PM)

The Commission will conduct a thorough, impartial enquiry into all your complaints. They will give specific and concrete recommendations to the Government and credible non-government organizations and associations.

Saturday, December 08, 2007

MLAs: Assets or Liabilities?

Statement on declaration of assets by elected representatives

Only 83 of the total 294 elected MLAs in the current (12th Assembly; from 2004) have submitted their financial details to the Speaker. 211 MLAs did not submit the details of their assets and liabilities to the Speaker, even once.
Only 36 MLAs have submitted their financial details for more than one year. Only 7 MLAs submitted for all four years (as on 7th November 2007):
  • KR Suresh Reddy (Speaker)
  • N. Chandra Babu Naidu
  • T. Devender Goud
  • Ch. Rajeswara Rao
  • Y. Ramakrishnudu
  • N. Rajyalakshmi
  • Patra Prakasa Rao
Apart from the Hon'ble Speaker, only 2 INC MLAs and 4 TDP MLAs submitted for all four years. Even the CM himself submitted only for 2 years - 2005 and 2006. The legislative affairs minister K. Rosaiah submitted only once. Ministers Konatala Ramakrishna, Mandali Buddha Prasad, K. Jana Reddy, Galla Aruna Kumari, D. Srinivas, Sabita Indra Reddy, Maganti Babu, J. Geeta Reddy, Pinnamaneni Venkateshwara Rao and Kanna Lakshminarayana submitted their financial details.
Ministers who did not submit even once: Md. Ali Shabbir, Sambhani Chandrasekhar, Reddyvari Chenga Reddy, Damodar Rajanarsimha, R. Damodar Reddy, J.C. Diwakar Reddy, Mohammed Fareeduddin, M. Hanumanth Rao, T. Jeevan Reddy, Ponnala Lakshmaiah, M. Mareppa, M. Mukesh Goud, Dharmana Prasad Rao, N. Raghuveera Reddy, J. Ramamohana Rao, A. Ramanarayana Reddy, Koneru Ranga Rao, J. Rathnakar Rao, D. Redya Naik, Botcha Satyanarayana, P. Subash Chandra Bosu, Gollapalli Surya Rao, K. Venkata Krishna Reddy, M. Venkata Ramana Rao, Sri V. Venkateswara Rao, S. Vijayaramaraju, G. Vinod
Out of 185 INC MLAs, only 45 submitted their details and 24 submitted only for one year. Out of 46 TDP MLAs, only 20 submitted their details, of whom only 12 submitted more than once.
Out of the 26 TRS MLAs, only 5 members have given their assets to the Speaker, of whom Mandadi Satyanarayana Reddy submitted twice. The rest have disclosed their details only once.
The floor leader of TRS did not submit even once.
Out of 9 CPM members, only 3 submitted their financial details: Nomula Narasiah, Abdul Gafoor and Paturi Ramaiah.
Out of 6 CPI MLAs, only 3 three submitted their details: Sheikh Naser Vali, G. Demudu and Chada Venkat Reddy.
From the BJP, only Kishen Reddy submitted his financial details. Likewise, among the 5 Majlis
MLAs, only Akbaruddin Owaisi submitted his financial details and that too, only once.
Excepting, MV Pratap Appa Rao and Ch. Rajeshwara Rao, the following members of the Assembly Ethics Committee did not submit their financial statement even once: C. Ramachandra Reddy (Chairman of the Ethics Committee), Sudarshan Reddy, Manikya Vara Prasad Rao, Anam Vivekananda Reddy, Capt. V. Lakshmikanth Rao, Palla Venkata Reddy, T. Rama Raeddy, S. Santosh Reddy, Katta Venkatanarasiah, Jalagam Venkat Rao and Jupalli Krishna Rao.
The leader of the House, Dr. YS Rajasekhara Reddy declared his wealth in his affidavit before returning officer during elections to the Assembly as Rs. 3,36,61,943 which included 45 acres of agricultural land and 6.65 acres of non-agricultural land, two buildings at Hyderabad and Pulivendula. His shares in companies are to a value of Rs. 42 lakhs. He paid Rs 12,491 only as income tax for the assessment year 2004-05.
Leader of the Opposition Sri N. Chandra Babu Naidu declared his wealth in his affidavit before the returning officer during 2004 elections as Rs. 20,92,29,305 which included Rs. 16,69,63,220 worth of shares and three buildings at Hyderabad. Subsequently Sri Naidu submitted his financial statement to the Speaker revealing that he purchased 2,01,020 shares in Heritage Foods from the market, which are valued at around Rs. 3 crores. The total value of his shareholding in the company, at the current market rates, now stands at Rs. 55 crores.

Saturday, December 01, 2007

Rescue Gulf workers, Pleads Dr. JP

Lok Satta Party’s National Coordinator Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan (Dr. JP) today asked the State Government to go to the rescue of Nizamabad district workers who had reportedly been sentenced to death or various terms of jail. The State Government, through the Indian Embassy in the UAE, should provide legal assistance and enable the sentenced to go in appeal.

Dr. JP said the incident once again highlighted the troubles the illiterate and gullible migrant workers faced because of the unscrupulous methods employed by brokers with political backing. Those who had returned on their own or with Government assistance are facing extreme hardship and some of them have reportedly ended their lives.

Dr. JP said the Government should immediately arrange to bring back Telugu-speaking people who are without proper job visas by sea route, if necessary. The Government should declare a three-year moratorium on their debts and provide them employment skills.

The Government of India, he said, should take up with the International Labor Organization the grievance of Indian workers that they were being thrown out of Gulf countries without being paid wages for the days they had worked. Simultaneously, the State Government should take stringent action against brokers with political backing who were taking innocent people for a ride.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Ombudsmen to Monitor Lok Satta Activities

The Lok Satta Party, which came into existence on October 2, 2006, with the lofty ideal of ushering in a new political culture has taken a major step in that direction by opting for an Ombudsman system to monitor and guide its entire gamut of activities.

The Lok Satta is the first in the country to constitute a team of independent and outstanding people to oversee party activities.

The Ombudsmen will have the authority to monitor, inspect, advise, guide, and publicize their findings pertaining to Lok Satta Party’s organizational elections and open primary elections through which candidates to contest public office are chosen. They are empowered to look into party finances in terms of fund raising, expenditure, and accounting. The Ombudsmen will also look into the quality of the party’s public discourse and activities including forms of protest/dissent.

Sri K Madhava Rao, former State Election Commissioner and Chief Secretary, and Sri Justice Reddappa Reddy, former judge of the Andhra Pradesh High Court have been invited to be the first Ombudsmen. Very soon another distinguished jurist from Telangana region will be joining the Ombudsmen team.

The Lok Satta Party, which is committed to transparency in all its activities, has posted its accounts on the Internet. It is now holding its organizational elections by secret ballot in Hyderabad city.

The Lok Satta Party believes that governance in the country cannot be improved unless political parties cleanse themselves first. Political parties, instead of being owned by the public, have become the pocket boroughs of a few politicians. Over the years, the politicians have mastered the art and science of making money for themselves and perpetuating dynastic rule to safeguard their ill-gotten wealth.

It is to fight against such political culture that the Lok Satta Party came into existence.
In its year-old existence, the Lok Satta has set an example to other parties by sticking to non-violent, democratic and constitutional forms of protest that do not inconvenience anybody. It has consciously shunned ‘bandhs’ and ‘rasta rokos’ and strikes, however provocative the issue might have been. It has stood for country’s unity and integrity and is not swayed by regional and parochial considerations whether the issue concerned sharing of river waters or reservations for deprived sections.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Lok Satta Party Pioneers Intra-party Democratic Process in India (Organizational Elections by Secret Ballot)

Lok Satta party is all set to create history on the Indian political scenario.

For the first time in India, a political party, i.e. Lok Satta party is organizing intra party organizational elections by secret ballot and preferential voting for over 50 divisions as per the constitutional norms laid down by the party.

Addressing the media at a press conference held today at the party head quarters, Dr Jayaprakash Narayan- National coordinator, said "The Party's Constitution reflects the values of internal democracy, total transparency, and member-control. Apart from the Party's agenda and vision, there are critical measures institutionalized in the party's structure and functioning, which make it the harbinger of 'new politics for the new generation", he added

Speaking on the subject of a new political culture, Dr JP Narayan elucidated," All Party candidates for organization office will be chosen by the members of the party through a secret ballot. There will be affirmative action policies to promote leadership of women, youth, backward classes and minorities and Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

Elucidating further on the internal electoral structure, he further said," Article XXI of Lok Satta Party constitution mandates the creation of an autonomous Electoral Authority to oversee all internal party elections in the precincts of Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation (GHMC).

The party spokesperson chipped in further and said" The Election Authority for the city of Hyderabad will have the flexibility to constitute lower level election authorities at the level of Division to assist in the conduct of the organizational elections.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Mahila Satta Condemns Attack on Journalist

The Mahila Satta, the women’s wing of the Lok Satta, today condemned the murderous attack on a rural reporter of Nalgonda district for writing about unauthorized liquor outlets and illicit distillation in his village.

Mr. Jagan, reporter for “Vaartha” Telugu daily, was stabbed on Saturday evening at Chittampadu village in Nampalli mandal of Nalgonda district. The newspaper had carried his report on women’s associations destroying liquor stocks in the village in the district edition on November 2.

Mr. Jagan was first taken to Devarakonda and later brought to Hyderabad and admitted in Yashoda Hospital here.

Mrs. E. Nagamani, Mrs. D. Saroja, Mrs. A. Subhashini, Mrs. D. Lashmi and Mrs. Y. Ramadevi, all Mahila Satta leaders, called on Mr. Jagan at the hospital and expressed shock and anger over the assault on him. They demanded that the Government take stern action against the guilty.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Metro Planning Committees Bill Does not Empower Mayor--Lok Satta

The Lok Satta Party today strongly criticized the provisions of the Metropolitan Planning Committees (MPCs) Bill passed by the Assembly yesterday. The party’s National Coordinator Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan said, “Instead of statutorily making Mayor the Chairperson of the MPC - so that the metro city governments are truly empowered, the Bill passed by the Assembly provides for the Chairperson and Vice-Chairperson to be nominated by the State Government. This will only create a new neta-babu sarkari layer and yet another defunct government body at huge public expense. It will serve the only purpose of accommodating narrow partisan interests.”

“This will inevitably lead to a further centralization of governance along with increased inefficiency and corruption. All this, while the citizens in our cities continue to suffer due to poor water supply and drainage, bad roads and street lighting in neglected colonies and dilapidated slums, and are plagued daily by the menace of mosquitoes and stray dogs, ” he said.

He explained the Lok Satta Party’s stance on this issue: “MPCs should be made the statutory authorities in-charge of all developmental activities in the metro zone including the preparation and approval of zoning and master plans. They should be empowered to collect development fees and coordinate and oversee the functioning of various public/parastatal agencies for urban development, infrastructure and amenities like water supply and sewerage, power, roads, waste management along with transport, education and healthcare. MPCs should be an integral part of the local government setup, for coordinating between the municipalities, corporation and gram panchayats in the metro zone.’

“Specifically, in the case of Hyderabad, HUDA and HMWSSB should function under the Hyderabad Metropolitan Planning Committee. Unless all city functions are brought under one umbrella, there is no city government.

“Importantly, the Mayor of the largest metro city should be made the chairperson of the MPC. MPCs’ membership should not be based on narrow, partisan considerations. Only then can they prepare, coordinate and execute complex metropolitan developmental plans.”

He pointed out that “the very fact that only 67 MLAs were present to discuss and vote on the bill, exposed the insincerity of the two major parties and lack of commitment towards genuine empowerment of metropolitan cities. Both the present ruling party and its predecessor have demonstrated, on several previous occasions, their intent not to allow the devolution of powers and resources to local and city governments in our State.”

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Don't enter into MOUs on Rural Public Schools

The Lok Satta Party today dubbed the State Government's scheme to promote Rural Public Residential Schools with private partnership as a populist scheme meant to benefit managements rather than rural students.

Mr. D. V. V. S. Varma, Lok Satta Party Secretary, in a statement asked the Government not to go ahead with the signing of MoUs with private managements but review the scheme.

Mr. Varma pointed out that that of the 31 lakh students in the 9000 odd high schools in the State, only 3.50 lakh students will get admissions in the 294 schools to be started at the rate of one per Assembly constituency. If the students admitted under management (25 per cent) and merit (25 per cent) quotas are excluded, only 1.75 lakh students or a mere four per cent of high school students benefit.

The Government was publicizing the scheme that benefits a paltry percentage of students with great gusto to gain political mileage. The proposed schools will not reform high school education. And the Government had totally ignored primary education in its bid to promote rural public residential schools. According to surveys made by Asar and Sarva Siksha Abhiyan, primary education is in a parlous state with 62 per cent of students not able to write even the names of their teachers, 50 per cent their parents' names and 8 per cent their own names.

Mr. Varma demanded that 20 per cent of seats in primary and upper primary schools under private managements be reserved for the free education of poor students. He wanted Government schools to be strengthened on par with private schools.

The Lok Satta, if voted to power, will provide free and quality education to all irrespective of their caste or economic status.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Dr JP's Padayatra from 23rd October 2007

Dr JP's Padayatra from 23rd October 2007
LSP demands closure of all liquor shops in localities where Dalits and poor people predominate
If women demand, even the licensed liquor shops should be closed

Hyderabad, Oct. 20 - Interacting with media today, Lok Satta Party's Secretary Sri DVVS Verma stated that his party is moving forward to ensure ?liquor-free villages/towns. He stated that Lok Satta party will be adopting a multi-pronged strategy to combat the menace of liquor problem. In this direction, the Party's National Coordinator, Dr Jayaprakash Narayan will be leading a Padayatra on 23rd October 2007 from Peddagotipadu in Guntur district. The three-day Padayatra will conclude on 25th October 2007 evening in Guntur with a public meeting.

Sri DVVS Verma pointed out that over 200 Dalit women in Peddagotipadu have resorted to indefinite hunger strike against the presence of a licensed liquor shop in their village and one of them even attempted to commit suicide. In spite of District Collector's report to Excise Commissioner to relocate the licensed liquor shop, no action has been taken thus far. DVVS Verma stated that the Padayatra, based on principles of Satayagraha, is being carried out to demonstrate Lok Satta Party's complete support to the legitimate demands of the Dalit women in Peddagotipadu. Mr. Verma demanded closure of the licensed shop in all in localities where Dalits and poor people predominate.

Apart from immediate closure of belt-shops, Mr Verma demanded that if large numbers of women in a locality demand the closure of licensed liquor shops, then their demands should be heeded. He also demanded that all political parties should take a vow in front of people stating that they will not distribute liquor during elections.

Mr Verma also stated that LSP is aiming to ensure a few pre-selected mandals as liquor free mandals. He stated his party will be using multiple means such as Padayatra's, citizen's arrest under Section 43 of CRPC and other constitutional means to give impetus to the on-going liquor control agitation.

Speaking on the occasion Mahila Satta State Convener D. Lakshmi, stated that they are operationalisng liquor control committees in various villages to ensure that closed belt shops are not re-opened. She called on various civil society organizations and media to join hands in this noble endeavor to find a lasting solution to the liquor problem in the state.

Lok Satta Party's spokesperson Y. Ramadevi referred to the recent incident where a mother killed her drunkard son in Namligonda village in Warangal district. She pointed out that such tragic incidents could have been avoided had the successive governments taken a proactive stand on removing the belt shops in the state.

On this occasion, Mahila Satta State convener D. Lakshmi, and Lok Satta Party's spokesperson Y. Ramadevi unveiled posters for Padayatra.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Minimum Support Prices for Agricultural Commodities - Letter to the Prime Minister

Esteemed Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh ji,

There is enormous unrest in the farming community in Andhra Pradesh resulting from the severe discrimination in determining the minimum support price for paddy. In this connection, we appeal to you to examine three interrelated issues of procurement price of rice; trade policies in relation to agricultural commodities and marketing regulations affecting the producers' interests.

Procurement Price of Rice:

It is estimated that a quantity of about 90 million tons of paddy is produced by the farmers in the country and this is the largest quantity in the food-grain basket. There is a misconception in the minds of the policy makers that when paddy is converted to rice, only 65% is redeemed and the balance is wasted. However, the residual products like husk, broken rice etc., are valuable and marketable products. 100 Kg of milled-paddy would yield 65 kg rice, 10-12 kg of broken rice, 8 kg of cattle feed and the balance would be husk. The government already has a scheme to modernize all rice mills to enhance the yield of rice and minimize wastage in milling. Hence, the difference in value between wheat and rice is very marginal and accordingly the minimum support price difference also should be marginal.

Government of India is spending huge money on Food Corporation of India (FCI) for maintaining the buffer stocks. It is estimated that an amount of Rs. 760 is spent by FCI, as handling and carrying costs for one quintal of rice every year. Compared to this expenditure by FCI, the additional support given to the rice farmer by way of a proper minimum support price is negligible. The high operational costs of FCI are because of its highly centralized and corrupt administrative apparatus. Given these problems, public distribution system needs to be reoriented to meet the requirements of the people below poverty line by creating Grain Banks managed at the local level. This will definitely reduce transaction, transport, handling and storage costs, while enhancing the rural employment opportunities. Most importantly, it will eliminate corruption and leakages in the system, and reduce food subsidies.

Trade policies in respect of agricultural products:
As on date, the government seems to be having ad-hoc export and import policies with reference to many agricultural products. For instance, 7,90,000 tonnes of wheat has been imported from international markets by paying Rs. 1600 a quintal during 2006-2007, when the Indian farmer was paid at the rate of Rs 750 per quintal.

Similarly, cotton is imported periodically by paying higher prices for a limited quantity to meet the short-term domestic requirement and this step has an adverse affect on the price of cotton in the local markets. Such irrational, ad-hoc, anti-producer policies are distorting the market forces, and severely depressing prices of agricultural commodities. In case of garment industry, cotton cost is only a small proportion of the final product price and yet short-sighted policies have done great damage to the farm sector. Not surprisingly the largest numbers of farmer suicides are from the cotton-growing-areas.

Political sensitivity of onion prices since 1980 is well-known. The government certainly has responsibility to help consumers in times of severe price escalation. However, the producer cannot be penalized. And the government has an obligation to buy the produce at market prices and subsidize the consumer. Instead, over the years, dramatic short-term steps were taken to depress the prices and the farmers were left in lurch. At the same time the government and Planning Commission keep emphasizing the importance of rejuvenating agricultural sector.
As a great economist and architect of liberalization policies promoting competition and choice, you are more aware than anybody else of the crisis afflicting Indian agriculture. When over 60% of people depend on agriculture, which accounts for 19% of GDP today, a simple arithmetic tells us that the average rural per-capita is only 1/6th of that of the urban population. This is a potentially an explosive situation causing devastation to millions of households resulting in agrarian strife. Successive governments have been aggravating this crisis by acting in a cavalier and short-term fashion without deeper reflection or long-term sustainable policy.

When the World Trade Organisation (WTO) permits an aggregate of 10% subsidies, government policies have not merely denied active support to agriculture, but have actually done everything possible to undermine agriculture by depressing and distorting the markets. The least that the farmers expect from the government headed by a great economist and true champion of fair competition is to let the market forces prevail and provide judicious support to the poor consumers through subsidies when needed. It follows therefore, that our farmers should get benefit of international prices whenever there are supply constraints. Our farmers should also be supported by strong government protection through minimum support prices whenever the prices are depressed. Unfortunately, the exact opposite policy prevails now to the long-term detriment of agricultural economy.

Restrictions on Marketing:
There are about 7,810 regulated markets in the country. The average area to be covered by a regulated market varies from 200 Sq.Km to 780 Sq.Km. Most of these markets are controlled by middle men and commission agents. Small farmers suffer from poor access to markets and are forced to sell their produce to the local trader-moneylender-input supplier at a price dictated by him.

The farmers are also getting short-changed in the market yards, which are headed by nominated bodies. The commission agents and the traders join hands to offer the lowest possible price to the agricultural produce, apart from short-changing the farmer in weighments and charging exorbitant commission (20% - 25%) as against the authorized commission of 4%.
In order to address this situation, all the restrictions on movement, storage, processing and trading of agricultural commodities should be immediately lifted. However, the government should insist on reporting requirements in order to keep track of demand-supply situation. The farmers must be organized and empowered to undertake various marketing operations including exports.

Under these circumstances, Lok Satta Party earnestly urges you to immediately take the following steps:

The paddy procurement price of at least Rs. 1000/- per quintal should be announced. On a long-term basis, there should be parity between paddy and wheat as has been the case historically.

Agricultural trade policies must be immediately rationalized. When the international prices are higher, domestic farmers must have an unfettered right to export. In order to sustain the public distribution system, the government must procure at market prices or at minimum support price, whichever is higher, and bear the cost of subsidy. Minimum support price must guarantee fair returns to farmers as recommended by the National Commission on Farmers chaired by Dr. MS Swaminathan. Import of agricultural commodities if any should be only to the extent of actual demand-supply gap when there is inadequate production of agricultural commodities. Imports must never be resorted to as a mechanism to depress agricultural prices.
All regulations on agricultural trading, movement, storage, processing and marketing should be immediately repealed.

I am sure your government understands the gravity of the situation and will act swiftly to ameliorate the distress of paddy farmers in Andhra Pradesh, and help rejuvenate the agricultural and rural economy.
Yours Sincerely,
Dr Jayaprakash Narayan

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Special Court immediately needed

Corruption allegations against Dr. YSR and Mr. Naidu

Special Court immediately needed

Special Judges should be appointed by the Government

Assets of corrupt public servants should be confiscated

Given the ongoing allegations and counter-allegations between Dr YS Rajasekhar Reddy and Chandrababu Naidu, Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan demanded that the State government must immediately constitute a Special Court to probe the issue of disproportionate assets. He strongly emphasized that this is not a private affair between the current and former Chief Ministers of Andhra Pradesh. Lok Satta Party demanded that the investigation must be totally free from political pressures and a Special Independent Prosecutor with impeccable credentials should be appointed by the Chief Justice of High Court. Dr.JP also demanded that the State government should promulgate an ordinance for confiscation of assets of corrupt public servants.

Under section 2 (c) of the Prevention of Corruption Act (1988), all Ministers, MLAs, elected representatives at State and local levels clearly fall under the definition of ?public servants?. Citing historical precedent for considering elected representatives as public servants, he referred to the famous HG Mudgal case, where the sitting MP was forced to resign for tabling questions in the Parliament (then known as the Provisional Legislature) for personal remuneration.

Additionally, under the section 13 (1) (e) of the Prevention of Corruption Act, possession of disproportionate wealth or pecuniary resources by a public official or by someone on his/her behalf is a crime. This Act mandates that public officials receive income from lawful sources only and they must also declare it to lawful authorities. Punishment for violation is imprisonment from one to seven years and fine.

Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan demanded that the State government must immediately constitute a special court for investigating corruption allegations against public servants under section 3(1) of the Prevention of Corruption Act. The section 3(1) enables the State government to appoint as many judges as necessary. Given these powers, the current debate over whether the probe be handled by a sitting or retired judge is merely sidetracking the issue.

To eliminate the influence of political pressures, he also demanded that a special prosecutor with impeccable credentials should be appointed by the Chief Justice of High Court to probe the issue. Constituting an Inquiry Commission would be a time-consuming process as the findings of such commissions cannot be acted upon directly and would have to be placed in the court of law for further trial.

Lok Satta Party also demanded that if a public servant or her/his family members are charged with holding disproportionate assets then the burden-of-proof must lie with that public servant.
He also called for immediate implementation of Benami Transactions (Prohibition) Act, 1988, which precludes the person who acquired the property in the name of another person from claiming it as his/her own.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Lok Satta Clarifies Stand on Power Subsidies and Subsidised Rice

Dear Sri Sainath,

I invite your kind attention to your column on Oct 12 in The Hindu: ‘Incredible India’ right here at home.
[Click on the link below for the article on Hindu]
You made a reference to Lok Satta Party’s (LSP) platform on subsidies. I would like to clarify the Party’s stand on power subsidy to farmers and subsidized rice.

1. Power subsidy
Lok Satta Party believes that the debate on power tariff for agriculture is skewed. In the AP context, TDP government collected about 2 – 10% tariff through slab rates (Rs 50 per HP. Later raised to Rs 250 per HP). The current Congress government is offering it free of cost. All that is being debated is whether power should be free, or upto 10% of tariff should be collected. LSP believes this is a spurious debate on a non-issue for the following reasons:

Un-metered power, poor distribution management, and corruption are causing loss of nearly 27% of power.

Farmers are getting low quality power with voltage fluctuations, and often motors get burnt about twice a year on an average. Each time repairs cost about Rs 2000 – 3000, resulting in an annual expenditure of about Rs 5000 for each farmer with an agriculture pumpset.

Villages get very poor quality of power, often interrupted by outages or load shedding. In many villages about 6 hours’ power supply in summer is the norm. Even PHCs and schools run without power.
Corruption is rampant in power sector at every level.
Lok Satta movement outlined all these problems as early as in 2000, and argued for decentralized distribution management with effective energy auditing. Lok Satta Times’ issue of October 2000 examined the issue in detail. A team of experts including late Dr Tatarao, Sri Balaramireddy, Sri TL Shankar, Capt Jalagam Ramarao, Sri KP Rao and Sri SR Vijayakar examined the power sector crisis and recommended solutions.
As a result of Lok Satta’s advocacy, four feeder lines in Andhra Pradesh were handed over to franchisees for effective distribution management. The results, despite bureaucratic hurdles, corruption and lethargy, were impressive. In Kallacheruvu of West Godavari district, the line losses were reduced from 27% to 9% (a saving of 18%). Voltage was fully stabilized in farm sector, and incidence of damage to pumpsets was brought down to zero! Corruption was eliminated with people’s participation. Under one feeder alone, over ten youngsters were trained and employed in a sustainable manner.

Lok Satta Party has been advocating replication of such a model in the whole state. The power savings will be of the order of Rs 2500 crore, about 100,000 jobs will be created, voltage will be stabilized, and villages can be supplied quality power round the clock. Our party has made a public commitment to achieve these results. In such a model, power tariff for agriculture is a short-term, marginal issue. Farmers can be assured quality supply, villages will get 24 hour power supply, and the power subsidies can be continued for sometime until farmers’ condition improves. This rational management of power sector is Lok Satta Party’s stand; not casual and irresponsible populism. Sadly, given the low quality of our public discourse and lack of depth in debate, issues are seen in simple ‘Yes’ or ‘No’ terms.
2. Subsidized Rice:
Lok Satta Party has not offered any additional food subsidies. We are merely committed to two things:

Better targeting of all food subsidies including free rice now available to the indigent (Annapurna Antyodaya scheme).

Transfer of public distribution to the district government, and offering the subsidy saved by better targeting as an incentive to the local government to enhance its resources.

Right now, for a population of under 8 crore, 1.8 crore families are covered by food subsidies to which the poor one entitled. Official rural poverty figures in AP are at 16%, and probably 30 – 40% people deserve food subsidies. And yet, over 90% of the people are covered now! Despite this there are lakhs of poor families which do not have a ration card! This is what needs to be set right, and Lok Satta Party is committed to revamping the public distribution system.

I hope you will take note of our stand and inform your readers, so that serious and rational debate on subsidies can be promoted. .

With warm regards,
Jayaprakash Narayan
National Coordinator

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Lok Satta Program to Provide Free Hospital Care for All

The Lok Satta Party today unveiled a unique program of public-private partnership to ensure universal and free hospitalized care in Andhra Pradesh.

The program, estimated to cost Rs.2500 crore a year, guarantees hospital care to every citizen as a matter of right irrespective of his or her income status. Unlike other programs, it is not limited to those below the poverty line.

Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, Lok Satta Party Coordinator, who had played a seminal role in formulating the national health policy and creating the National Rural Health Mission, told a media meet today that the Lok Satta Party's innovative program would put an end to the dismal health care situation. The concept brochure was released by Party State Working Committee member Mrs. G. Pratibha Rao.

At present, Dr. JP pointed out, hospitalized health care accounted for more than half (58%) of Indians' total annual expenditure on healthcare. As a consequence, more than 40 per cent of those hospitalized borrow money or sell assets to cover expenses. At least one quarter of hospitalized Indians fall below poverty line because of hospital expenses.

The following are the highlights of the Lok Satta proposal:
1. The patients will be given an option to get admitted in a hospital of their choice and the money will 'follow the patient'
2. Every patient will be given a health card and the utilization of services will be recorded on patient cards. At the end of the month, hospitals (public or private) will claim reimbursements from the Government on the basis of services provided to in-patients
3. Hospitals will be funded only by way of reimbursement of costs for services rendered. The coverage of private hospitals will exclude out-patient care
4. To effectively combat the menace of corruption, the proposal includes creation of institutions such as a District Health Fund and a District Ombudsman.

Dr. JP said that the Lok Satta proposal seeks to involve both Government hospitals and private facilities equally in providing quality care at Government cost. In addition, private practitioners can utilize government hospitals for practice, and claim reimbursements for the services rendered.

Dr. JP clarified that that a patient need not pay any deposit or a premium since it is not an insurance program. Every individual will be entitled for free health care whenever he/she is admitted to hospital. Such an approach is based on the premise that people living in this country are entitled for free health care as citizens paying taxes.

Once an individual receives a Health Card, s/he will not have to visit any Government office. All that an individual has to do is to carry the health card with him/her when getting admitted in a hospital. The hospital authorities (public or private) will claim reimbursements at the end of every month. All medical expenses of in-patients will be covered by the program. These include in-patient charges, medication, diagnostic tests and surgeries. In case of public hospitals, out-patient care will be included.

This program is not targeted at specific diseases. All common aliments will be covered. Rare diseases involving high cost care will be separately dealt with through a tertiary care program.

Dr. JP explained that the Andhra Pradesh Government's 'Aarogyasri' addresses only a few rare diseases that people are vulnerable to, which is a small portion of the disease burden. It targets people suffering from a limited number of illnesses like those affecting heart, brain and kidney or cancer or but not ordinary ailments, which account for most of the disease burden. It ignores maternity care, infectious diseases, routine surgeries and general ailments, and non-surgical interventions.
As of September 1, 2007, only 3841 people had undergone surgical procedures under AarogyaSri, while 60 lakh people are sliding below the poverty line every year in the State because of health care costs.

'Aarogyasri' benefited only corporate hospitals, as 95% of the cases were treated in big corporate hospitals. Most of the private practitioners and nursing homes providing low-cost, good-quality care are not utilized. Instead, expensive hospitals are involved in providing high cost care for a few selective aliments. Andhra Pradesh has an estimated 40,000 well-trained private allopathic practitioners.

The Lok Satta proposal seeks to mobilize all resources available in the State to ensure that every one gets quality health care at Government cost. A strong preventive primary health care programme, and high-quality health infrastructure in public sector will be the foundation of this programme of universal healthcare. Primary health centres will be strengthened and brought under local government control. A community Hospital of 50 beds will be built for every 1,00,000 population. (At present we only have one for every 4,00,000). All district and Teaching Hospitals will be improved substantially. Dr. JP gave a call for a debate on universal, affordal healthcare. He appealed all stake-holders - doctors, civil society and people of all sections -to join the struggle to build a viable universal healthcare programme.
To see the media coverage, please click on the links below:

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Camaign against irregularities in Ration Shops

Every month, 467 kilo liters of kerosene and 2000 metric tons of rice are being declared as unused surplus in the city even as poor families complain they are being deprived of their entitlements from fair price shops. Eleven lakh families in the city of Hyderabad are dependent on fair price shops for their sustenance.

This cruel paradox has come to light in a study conducted by the Greater Hyderabad unit of the Lok Satta Party in the last one week. Lok Satta volunteers gathered the opinion of 79 fair price shop dealers and customers served by them in Greater Hyderabad.

The principal complaint of white cardholders is they are being given only five liters of kerosene against 10 liters they are entitled to. Cardholders are often compelled to pay well above the official price of Rs. 9.50 per litre. In many cases, the 10 litre coupon is accepted by the dealer, but only 5 litres are issued. In fact, their entitlement has been reduced over the years from 18 liters to 10 liters per month. This huge shortfall is putting them under enormous financial burden.

Poor people are also put to great hardship because of the dealers' insistence on their lifting the entire quota of 10 liters of kerosene and 20 kgs of rice at one go.

The users of fair shops are people who experience regular and consistent financial stress. Therefore, it is imprudent to assume that they can pay for all commodities at one time. Cardholders should be given coupons that facilitate purchase of commodities in small quantities and in installments.

Another finding of the survey is that fair shops do not adhere to the stipulated time schedules - 8 AM to 12 Noon and 4 PM to 8 PM - making it difficult for cardholders to access them at convenient times. While the poor complain that they are not receiving their basic entitlements from fair price shops, large quantities of kerosene and rice are going unutilized.

The Lok Satta Party survey has revealed that elected local government representatives - municipal corporators - have very little control over the functioning of fair price shops. Mr. Ankaiah demands that ward committees be constituted and empowered to oversee the functioning of the fair price shops within their ward. There is also need to constitute a stakeholders' committee for each fair shop with local users, members of local civil society, local youth and women groups as members. Such stakeholder empowerment will go a long way in improving the functioning of fair price shops.

Lok Satta Party calls upon local youth to become volunteers to monitor and improve the functioning of the fair price shops. The volunteers will be trained and given logistic support by Lok Satta Party to help improve distribution of essential commodities to poor households. Volunteers may please contact 040 - 2323 1818 / 2323 2829.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Lok Satta Defends Nuclear Deal with US

The Lok Satta Party today unequivocally supported the nuclear deal with the U. S. saying it served India’s economic and strategic interests and provided room for diplomatic maneuvering.

Lok Satta’s National Coordinator Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan (Dr. JP) said that the country’s national interest should be the sole criterion for judging such deals since there are no permanent friends and permanent enemies in international relations.

He was responding to a question at a conference of youth held to mark the launching of “Jana Chaitanya yatra” by the Yuva Satta.

Dr. JP said the nuclear deal would strengthen India’s energy security, facilitate access to high technology and promote bilateral trade. Strategically, India retained its right to reprocess spent nuclear fuel, pursue its three-stage nuclear cycle that facilitates thorium use and strengthen defense capability.

Dr. JP drew pointed attention to the double standards of certain parties which defended Iran’s right to nuclearization and criticized India’s nuclearization. “To have another nuclear power in India’s neighborhood is antithetical to India’s self-interest”, he added. He ridiculed the contention that India voted against Iran’s nuclear quest in the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Authority) because it had become a stooge of the U. S. Pointing out that Russia, China and Pakistan too voted against Iran, Dr. JP asked whether anybody could say that the three countries too were U. S. stooges.

Dr. JP conceded that nuclear testing was an issue. Although there was nothing in the 123 agreement which inhibited India from testing a nuclear device, India was aware that testing was fraught with certain consequences. The Government of India in its wisdom had declared a unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing. But if national interests warranted a test, India would do so and face the consequences.

On the criticism that the deal abridged India’s sovereignty, Dr. JP said every international agreement imposed certain mutual obligations between contracting parties. It did not mean the sovereignty was violated. “The deal with the US is mutually beneficial”.

Dr JP pleads for assistance to police official's family

Lok Satta Party’s National Coordinator Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan (Dr. JP) today requested Chief Minister Dr. Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy to provide all relief and help to rehabilitate the family of Mr. E. Madhava Reddy, Sub Inspector of Police, Malakpet, who was fatally mowed down by a speeding lorry as he chased and tried to stop it. “There cannot be a more painful incident than this in which a uniformed police officer was disobeyed and run over by a wayward lorry driver in a wanton act of culpable homicide.”

Dr. JP suggested that Mr. Madhava Reddy’s family be extended benefits on the lines of police killed in extremist operations. Under the policy, the Government treats deceased functionaries as on duty until retirement and provides wages and allowances to the family. In addition, one of the surviving members of the family is provided a Government job at an appropriate level depending on educational qualifications.

Dr. JP wanted the Government to ensure payment of wages and allowances to the family of Mr. Madhava Reddy until his retirement and pension after the retirement age. Mr. Madhava Reddy’s son, aged 26 and a Bachelor of Science, be appointed assistant sub-inspector as a special case. “Such a gesture from the Government would enhance the morale of all serving policemen and give them the strength and confidence to discharge their duties in the face of danger and adversity.”

Dr. JP called on members of the family of Mr. Madhava Reddy in the morning and conveyed his condolences.

In his letter, Dr. JP said the death illustrated the malaise afflicting the public order machinery. “We have eroded the self-esteem, confidence and image of the police severely, and as a result lawful orders of uniformed officers are ignored with impunity. The culture of permissiveness is a direct consequence of undue political interference in the day-to-day functioning of the police….”

Dr. JP called for making crime investigation independent and isolated from political influence and professionalization of law and order police.

Monday, September 03, 2007

Yuva Satta Launching “Jana Chaitanya Yatra”

The Yuva Satta is launching a State-wide “Jana Chaitanya Yatra” from Hyderabad tomorrow.

Sixteen Yuva Satta leaders will be hitting the road from September 4 to September 27 and taking part in conferences of youth at all district headquarters. They will also be visiting colleges and dalit colonies in and around the district headquarters.

The district-level youth conferences, which bring all of the youth on to the same dais, will discuss the challenges and opportunities for youth in the fields of education, employment and political leadership.

Lok Satta Party’s National Coordinator Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan will be flagging off the youth campaign from Sundaraiah Vignana Kendram, Bagh Lingampalli, at a function at 10 a.m. tomorrow.

The Yuva Satta will take out a silent march from Sundaraiah Vignana Kendram to RTC Crossroads in memory of bomb blast victims and pledge to work for the integrity of the nation.

Sunday, August 26, 2007

Stamp out terrorism, appeals Dr. JP

Lok Satta Party's National Coordinator Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan (Dr. JP) said today that terrorism had to be uprooted ruthlessly to protect society and civilization. In a statement, Dr. JP described terrorists, who took the lives of innocent people through bomb blasts in Hyderabad, as cowards.

"No religion sanctions terrorism although its perpetrators invoke religion for their acts. Terrorists are essentially barbaric people who have nothing but hatred for mankind and all values of civilization."

Dr. JP said blaming the police and Intelligence agencies for failure to prevent terrorist attacks was unwarranted. Even if Intelligence had information about likely terrorist attacks, they would not know when and where they would strike.

In times of crisis, people, political parties and the Government should stand united and do nothing to disrupt normal life. Calls for 'rasta rokos' 'bandhs' would merely serve the cause of terrorists, who were bent on destabilizing the country.

Dr. JP said that Governments in their bid to stamp out terrorism should not abridge people's fundamental rights. China could do without terrorism because it had a totalitarian system. "The need of the hour is striking a fine balance between national security and civil rights".

Dr. JP underlined the need for police reforms to ensure that the personnel were productively utilized. While thousands of police personnel were deployed as gunmen, intelligence personnel were used to serve the interests of the ruling party. Dr. JP in the morning called on the blast victims undergoing treatment in hospitals. Eleven Lok Satta volunteers donated blood to Chiranjivi Blood Bank for the benifit of victims.

Friday, August 17, 2007

Lok Satta to enroll 15 lakh members by December 2007: Dr. JP

The Lok Satta Party has decided to enroll at least 15 lakh members by December-end by launching a vigorous campaign throughout the State.

Disclosing this at a media conference at the end of the two-day conference of the organizational wings of the party, Lok Satta Party’s National Coordinator Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan (Dr. JP) said the people were thirsting for alternative politics. By voting for the two traditional parties alternately, they realized that were merely choosing between the fire and frying pan. The Lok Satta would be guilty of letting them down if it did not provide an alternative that liberates them from the traditional parties and politics of corruption. The Lok Satta Party aimed at having a unit in every village and 1000 to 2000 members in every mandal, a majority of them youth and women. The Lok Satta Party would thereafter hold party elections under the watchful eye of a three-member Ombudsman. The party had divided the State into eight zones and appointed zonal coordinators for the membership campaign and party elections.

On the claims of Chief Minister Dr. Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy and Mr. N. Tulasi Reddy, Congress Party spokesman, that there were no belt shops in the State, Dr. JP told them that they should have been aware of belt shops at least in their mandals if not the entire State. “There may be mandals without schools or villages without drinking water but there is not a single mandal in the entire State where there are no belt shops”. Dr. JP pointed out that Lok Satta and Mahila Satta volunteers had already furnished the Chief Minister with a list of 2000 shops in the State. According to the party’s estimate, there are 50,000 belt shops, besides 25000 gudumba and country liquor shops. “But we have a
Government that neither sees nor hears”.

Dr. JP said he would not be surprised if the Government chose to legalize belt shops unable to counter the Lok Satta campaign. In fact, the Congress MLA of Sattenapalli led a procession against belt shops in his constituency the other day.

Dr. JP welcomed the Prime Minister Manmohan’s Independence Day speech in which he focused on giving a thrust to higher and vocational education. “The Prime Minister is a man of sincerity and integrity. But unfortunately the responsibility of implementing laudable schemes rests with States. Thousands of crores of rupees meant for education and health care have gone down the drain because the State leadership has neither the will nor the machinery to implement the schemes. Industrial training institutes, for which the poor sent their children to learn a trade, did not have equipment to train them, said Dr.JP.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Camaign against irregularities in Ration Shops

Every month, 467 kilo liters of kerosene and 2000 metric tons of rice are being declared as unused surplus in the city even as poor families complain they are being deprived of their entitlements from fair price shops. Eleven lakh families in the city of Hyderabad are dependent on fair price shops for their sustenance.

This cruel paradox has come to light in a study conducted by the Greater Hyderabad unit of the Lok Satta Party in the last one week. Lok Satta volunteers gathered the opinion of 79 fair price shop dealers and customers served by them in Greater Hyderabad.

The principal complaint of white cardholders is they are being given only five liters of kerosene against 10 liters they are entitled to. Cardholders are often compelled to pay well above the official price of Rs. 9.50 per litre. In many cases, the 10 litre coupon is accepted by the dealer, but only 5 litres are issued. In fact, their entitlement has been reduced over the years from 18 liters to 10 liters per month. This huge shortfall is putting them under enormous financial burden.

Poor people are also put to great hardship because of the dealers' insistence on their lifting the entire quota of 10 liters of kerosene and 20 kgs of rice at one go.

The users of fair shops are people who experience regular and consistent financial stress. Therefore, it is imprudent to assume that they can pay for all commodities at one time. Cardholders should be given coupons that facilitate purchase of commodities in small quantities and in installments.

Another finding of the survey is that fair shops do not adhere to the stipulated time schedules - 8 AM to 12 Noon and 4 PM to 8 PM - making it difficult for cardholders to access them at convenient times. While the poor complain that they are not receiving their basic entitlements from fair price shops, large quantities of kerosene and rice are going unutilized.

The Lok Satta Party survey has revealed that elected local government representatives - municipal corporators - have very little control over the functioning of fair price shops. Mr. Ankaiah demands that ward committees be constituted and empowered to oversee the functioning of the fair price shops within their ward. There is also need to constitute a stakeholders' committee for each fair shop with local users, members of local civil society, local youth and women groups as members. Such stakeholder empowerment will go a long way in improving the functioning of fair price shops.

Lok Satta Party calls upon local youth to become volunteers to monitor and improve the functioning of the fair price shops. The volunteers will be trained and given logistic support by Lok Satta Party to help improve distribution of essential commodities to poor households. Volunteers may please contact 040 - 2323 1818 / 2323 2829.

Lok Satta condemns Mudigonda violence

Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, National Coordinator of the Lok Satta Party, today appealed to all political parties and Governments to introspect whether violence and counter-violence were warranted in a 60-year-old democracy. Failure to arrive at solutions through peaceful and constructive means merely mirrored the deep democratic crisis the country faced and exposed our inability to resolve problems peacefully, he told a meeting organized by the party.

He made the observations in the context of the police firing at Mudigonda in Khammam district in which eight CPI(M) activists were killed.

Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan decried that governments, whichever party is in power, and political parties are perpetuating a vicious cycle of violence and counter-violence. Brutal lathicharge and extreme use of force and firing resulting in deaths of innocent and poor citizens has become all too common. Equally, civil society movements and parties are resorting to extreme tactics to provoke people and invite repression. Lives of innocent people are lost all too often. Political calculations, not human decency have become the norm. Political parties and Governments should ponder whether action and reaction reminiscent of colonial rule were warranted in a democratic society.

He was addressing a conference titled "Ration - Pareshan" organized by the Lok Satta to highlight how poor families were undergoing hardship because of their inability to draw the 10 liters of kerosene and 20 kgs of rice they are entitled to every month. The Government spent Rs.3000 crore of taxpayers' money on subsidized supply of rice and kerosene to white cardholders. Although laws, rules and regulations were clear and widespread government machinery was in place, it could not render justice to the poor.

He commended Lok Satta volunteers for trying to find a peaceful solution to the chronic problem of rations through citizen assertion constructive means. This is the meaning of new politics fit for a constitutional democracy. Resort to violence itself is a symptom of failure of our democracy, he added.

"If a young man or woman adopts a ration shop in his or her area and spends an hour or two a week monitoring the fair shop functioning, things would improve. Lok Satta Party would train these volunteers and give them the information to monitor shops, mobilize citizens and ensure implementation of rules. If that fails, they should represent the problem to officials. The Lok Satta Party would provide all support. Fair shop dealers too had their problems. They lifted Government allotted stocks by borrowing money on interest while their margins were low. The Government could consider permitting them to lift stocks on credit and provide a solution.

Mr. B. Ankaiah, Convener, Greater Hyderabad Lok Satta Unit, Mrs. D. Lakshmi, Mahila Satta Convener and Mr. G. Rama Murthy, senior party leader, took part in the conference in which many representatives from different parts of the city voiced their distress and anger over their plight.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Tremendous Response to Lok Satta Primaries

The Lok Satta Party's policy of asking voters to choose its candidates for by-elections to ZPTCs and MPTCs in the State has elicited tremendous response.

The party deliberately opted for candidate selection by people through secret ballot as part of its policy to make politics people-centred, instead of being politician-centred.

This marks a radical departure from established parties' culture of choosing candidates based on their money power or muscle power or pedigree. The Satta has, in fact, challenged other parties to contest elections without recourse to purchase of votes or distribution of liquor.
The party has so far chosen its candidates to contest two ZPTC and 10 MPTC seats through primary elections. The by-elections are scheduled to take place on July 12.

According to Mr. D. V. V. S. Varma, Secretary, Lok Satta Party, the people's response to primaries would have been far greater had there been more time between the announcement of by-elections and the filing of nominations. There was a gap of just one day, as per the election schedule.

Ungutur in West Godavari district where an election is taking place for the ZPTC stands as a shining example of new politics at work. The Lok Satta short-listed three candidates and appealed to voters to choose the best one to represent them. All the candidates travelled in one vehicle and appealed for votes in one pamphlet as they toured villages in the constituency.

Of the 45000 registered voters, 9095 took part in the primary election. Mr. Potla John Raju, who polled 5260 votes, was declared the party candidate.

Similarly, 300 to 600 voters took part in the Lok Satta MPTC primaries held in different parts of the State to choose its candidates.

Mr. D. V. V. S. Varma said in a statement that the primaries demonstrated people's contempt for the traditional parties' culture of foisting candidates selected in secret conclaves.

Mr. Varma congratulated the voters on embracing Lok Satta Party's new political culture.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Lok Satta demands liquor shops along highways be shut down

Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, Lok Satta Party's National Coordinator, has demanded that liquor shops along highways be shut down immediately.
While welcoming the Government move to prevent accidents by punishing drunken driving, Dr. Jayaprakash pointed out that liquor shops had been opened along highways merely to cater to vehicle users and remained open day and night. The Government claim that it would prevent drunken driving even as it facilitated drinking along highways was akin to putting the cart before the horse.

In a letter to Chief Minister Dr. Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy, the Lok Satta leader also demanded that the Government close down illegal belt shops being run by licensed liquor dealers. The belt shops, unofficially estimated to number more than a lakh, were to be found in every village, ward and lane. "It is incredible that the shops can function without the knowledge of the Excise and Police Departments". Asserting that the belt shops were being run with the full knowledge and support of the Government, Dr. Jayaprakash added that otherwise they could not function even for a day. He wanted the Government to put an end to the practice of increasing its excise revenue by encouraging belt shops.

Dr. Jayaprakash pointed that nothing could be more atrocious than viewing liquor as a chief source of revenue for the Government. The liquor addition had already ruined 50 lakh families in the State as liquor flowed freely. He wanted the Government to restrict liquor consumption since total prohibition was a practical failure.

The Lok Satta ridiculed the Government claim that the State had witnessed a decline in the number of shops pointing out that the outlets had proliferated hundreds of more times than licensed shops in the shape of belt shops. Government statistics testified to the increase in sales year after year. While the previous Government turned liquor a source of revenue and facilitated belt shops, the present Government not only continued the policy but also doubled and trebled its revenues from liquor.

He wanted the Government to disclose the programmes and activities it had taken up to launch a campaign against drinking by utilizing ten per cent of excise revenue as promised. He wanted the Government to totally ban 'gudumba' and country liquor, and public drinking at liquor shops and launch a strong campaign against the drinking evil.

The Lok Satta, he informed the Chief Minister, would take up direct action from October 2 if belt shops were not closed by then. Meanwhile, it would collect information about belt shops and communicate it to the Government. The women's wing of the party would launch a Statewide campaign against drinking from August 15.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Dr. Jayaprakash Calls for Justice to Telangana

Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, National Coordinator of the Lok Satta Party, today demanded that constitutional status be provided to regional development boards, the 610 GO be implemented in letter and spirit and that the next river water tribunal go into disparities in water allocation within different regions of the State. These issues should be sorted out whether Telanagana was going to be formed or not.

Addressing a media meet, Dr. Jayaprakash pointed out that regional development boards recently constituted did not enjoy any constitutional status of Article 371D of the Constitution. The Constitution should be amended to provide them constitutional status, powers and resources. In fact, the Telangana Regional Development Board could be entrusted with the implementation of Government Order No. 610.

Dr. Jayaprakash pointed out that neither the Congress nor the Telugu Desam Government had the political will to implement the G.O. issued as early as in 1985. The Congress was in power between 1989 and 1994 and again since 2004 while the Telugu Desam was in power during the other periods. The GO involved the repatriation of just 28000 of the 9.5 lakh Government employees from Telangana to Andhra.
Referring to regional disputes on the sharing of the Krishna and the Godavari river waters, Dr. Jayaprakash said the next river waters tribunal should go into allocation of waters among different regions within the State. Thanks to Sir Arthur Cotton, some coastal Andhra districts had benefited while Telangana and Rayalaseema did not get adequate waters. The Godavari and the Krishna should be treated as one basin since the Krishna waters cannot be diverted to the Rayalaseema region unless the Godavari waters are diverted into the Krishna basin downstream.

Dr. Jayaprakash called for a national debate on caste-based reservations in the context of the raging disputes between Malas and Madigas in Andhra Pradesh and Gujjars and Meenas in Rajasthan. Treating castes as vote banks, most political parties were indulging in cynical and manipulative games. He made it clear that the Lok Satta was totally in favour of reservations so long as birth-based discrimination continued. He, however, wanted the reservation system to be refined. Any scientific system should give weightage to factors like caste, economic status, parents' educational status, rural or urban background, education in Government or private school and medium of instruction.

On Special Economic Zones, Dr. Jayaprakash said that they should not be constituted in agriculturally prosperous land except in rare circumstances. He suggested that farmers be paid more than market rates for their lands and be given one acre of developed land for every two acres acquired for them. This can be done if more land than is required for an SEZ is acquired

Friday, May 25, 2007

Don't lose your right to vote - Lok Satta appeals to Hyderabadis

The Lok Satta Party has decided to undertake a sample survey of voters in Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation and help people enroll themselves as voters.

This was decided at a meeting of the volunteers of the Greater Hyderabad unit of the party today.

Mr. Bhandaru Ankaiah,in -charge of the Greater Hyderabad unit of the Party said the electoral rolls were available at all major delivery post offices, muncipal offices and polling stations. The party volunteers during sample survey, will help new voters enroll themselves by filling in Form 6.

In a statement, Mr. Ankaiah said people should avail themselves of the opportunity to enroll themselves as voters if their names were not found in the lists. The opportunity would be open until June 5.

By taking part in the elections to the Greater Hyderabad Municipal Corporation, the voters could choose leaders who would make Greater Hyderabad a better Hyderabad.