Thursday, February 28, 2008

Fare Reduction an Eye-wash, Says Lok Satta Party

The Lok Satta Party today regretted that the railway budget had by and large neglected the laying of new tracks, although many surveys had already been completed. Only when new tracks are laid, more and more trains can be introduced to new areas.

Mr. D. V. V. S. Varma, General Secretary of the Lok Satta Party, in a statement today described the so-called reduction in fares as an eye-wash as the Railways had steeply raised the burden on passengers by converting express trains into super fast trains and increasing the ‘tatkal’ quota at the expense of the general quota.

Facilitating easy purchase of tickets would not solve the basic problem of inadequate services. For instance, the ‘garib rath’ being introduced between Hyderabad and Visakhapatnam should have been a daily service instead of one meant for three days a week.

He welcomed the concession in fares to students and women, although it might have been done with an eye on elections.

Monday, February 25, 2008

Golden Age or Era of Stupor? Asks Mahila Satta

It is not milk and honey that is flowing in the streets of Andhra Pradesh in the "golden age" of Dr. Y. S. Rajasekhara Reddy; it is simply Indian made foreign liquor and illicitly distilled country liquor, says Mahila Satta, the women's wing of the Lok Satta Party.

The Mahila Satta organized demonstrations and sit-ins at Excise Department offices all over the State today to protest against the Government policy of treating Excise as an "akshaya patra" for its revenue receipts. They courted arrest volunterily, taken to Abids police station and subsequently released.
Talking to the media, Mrs. D. Saroja, Mahila Satta state Secretary, said that successive Governments had already ruined the lives of 70 lakh families in the State by promoting unbridled liquor consumption through unauthorized outlets and turning a blind eye to illicit distillation of country liquor and 'gudumba'.
If the Government planned to get a revenue of Rs.11,000 crore by way of excise and sales tax, people would be spending Rs.25,000 crore on purchases of liquor. "People's expenditure on liquor far exceeds the amounts the Government spends on Rs.2 a kg rice supply, INDIRAMMA houses, pensions and three per cent interest schemes - all ostensibly meant to uplift the poor".
"The Government is indulging in sheer hypocrisy when it claims to work for the welfare of the poor through umpteen schemes even as it ruins their health and finances by encouraging liquor consumption by upping sales targets year after year. Are we in a golden age or in an era of stupor", Mrs. Saroja asked.
In response to the Mahila Satta's agitation against belt shops since July 2007, the Chief Minister had promised to shut them down and asked police and excise officials to extend their cooperation to women. Although the Mahila Satta had given details of belt shops district-wise, no action had been taken. The Chief Minister, however, had the audacity to declare once again the other day in the Legislative Council that there were no belt shops in the State.
"A Government that shuts its eyes to ground realities is bound to face people's wrath", Mrs. Saroja warned.
Mrs. Saroja added that the Mahila Satta would resist belt shop auctions when they take place in the next few months. Party Women leaders S. Manorama, N. Saroja Devi, D. Lashmi participated in the protest.

Sunday, February 24, 2008

India Faces Threat Of Falling Apart If Issues are Not Addressed: Dr. JP

India faces the threat of balkanization unless systemic changes are carried out to provide political space to every group, said Lok Satta Party President Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan here today. “Mere protestations of ‘Mera Bharat Mahan’, without addressing the basic fissures, will not rescue India from falling apart”, he added.

Addressing a “One India – One People” forum organized by the Lok Satta Party in the context of attacks against non-Marathis in Mumbai and other places in Maharashtra, Dr. JP pointed that political India has already been decimated since national parties, elbowed out of most of the States, are forced to join hands with regional parties. The first-past-the-post electoral system enables parties based on region and religion, language and caste to whip up narrow sentiments and ride to power. The so-called national verdict is nothing but an aggregation of State verdicts. Widespread illiteracy and universal adult franchise are an explosive combination ,which narrow-minded parties are shrewdly exploiting.

Dr. JP identified caste-based reservations as another issue that is tearing part the country. Instead of dissipating the anger of neglected sections through innovative solutions, political parties merely stoked the flames in pursuance of their vote bank politics. He feared the break-out of a conflagration in the hinterland of New Delhi where Gujjars and Meenas are fighting each other over reservations.

Dr. JP clarified that reservations are indeed necessary for sections neglected for centuries as an interim measure. They, however, do not provide a permanent solution. That, however, does not mean that the son of a Collector or the daughter of a Minister too should enjoy reservations simply based on their caste. A solution lies in ensuring that every one born in this country irrespective of his caste or religion has a right to free and quality education for 12 years and every one, willing and eligible, is enabled to purse higher education at Government cost.

The economically backward, who are not eligible for reservations in jobs and education can be given a weightage of say 10 per cent marks in the qualifying examinations considering their income and rural upbringing. Politicians, instead of forging such win-win situations, are deliberately and crudely provoking anger and hatred among sections of people.
On the recent developments in Maharashtra, Bihar and West Bengal where some politicians have tried to fan parochial feelings, Dr. JP said that the sons of the soil thesis should be dismissed categorically if India were to remain one. The right of every Indian citizen to pursue education or employment or business or profession or simply anywhere in the country is non-negotiable. Every Indian should condemn parochial tendencies, recalling Martin Luther King’s quote, “The silence of good men is more dangerous than the brutality of bad men”.

Saturday, February 23, 2008

One India – One People

The recent crude and opportunistic attempts by some politicians to whip up regional chauvinism call for responsible citizens across India to come to the rescue of the idea of

One India - One People

It is the constitutional right of all law-abiding Indian citizens to have education, carry on business, seek employment, and have residence in any part of the country. India survives as a single nation of free people or it does not survive at all.

The recent attempts by some to whip up narrow parochialism and resorting to violence is contrary to the spirit of national unity, irrelevant and injurious to the culture necessary for economic growth and national prosperity. The strength of our cities lies in their multicultural cosmopolitanism.

With this in view, Lok Satta Party is organizing a forum to discuss the need to foster the spirit of tolerance and peaceful co-existence. Lok Satta Party invites representatives of all communities to attend the forum, express their views in this regard, and strengthen the spirit of fraternity among all Indians.

Meet Agenda

1. Welcome
2. Introduction – Lok Satta Party advocates equal rights for all Indians across India
3. Opening of the discussion by Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan on the importance of combating parochial attitudes
4. Pass a resolution and take a pledge to develop a stronger pan-Indian community spirit in Hyderabad.

11-6-841, Red Hills,
Hyderabad 500004

Time and Date: 10 – 1 pm
Sunday, 24th February, 2008

Friday, February 22, 2008

Mahila Satta Demonstrations to Expose Govt. Duplicity

Hyderabad, Feb.18 - Mahila Satta, the women's wing of the Lok Satta Party, will organize sit-ins ('dharnas') and demonstrations in front of Excise Department offices all over the State on February 25 to protest against Government’s duplicity. Even as the Government dangled schemes like supply of rice at Rs.2 a kg and three per cent interest loans with the ostensible purpose of helping the poor, it ruined them by promoting liquor consumption. "Constitution of a committee to campaign against liquor consumption by a Government which encourages belt shops to boost its revenue is nothing but hypocritical."

Mrs. D. Saroja, Mahila Satta Secretary, pointed out in a statement that liquor sales would shoot up to Rs.25000 crore in the coming financial year, if the Budget presented to the State Legislature is any indication. The Budget provided for an increase in excise revenue by Rs.866 crore during 2008-09. The Government would be earning Rs.11000 crore by way of excise and sales tax on liquor sales against Rs.8000 crore now.

"What is the point in the Government unveiling scheme after scheme in the name of the poor even as it ruins them money wise and health wise through unbridled liquor sales?”, Mrs. Saroja asked. "The Mahila Satta will not rest until belt shops are closed. It will resist liquor shop auctions when they take place in the next few months".

No Attempt To Arrest Leakages: Dr. JP on State Budget

Hyderabad, Feb.15 - Mrs. D. Saroja, Mahila Satta Secretary, pointed out in a statement that liquor sales would shoot up to Rs.25000 crore in the coming financial year, if the Budget presented to the State Legislature is any indication. The Budget provided for an increase in excise revenue by Rs.866 crore during 2008-09. The Government would be earning Rs.11000 crore by way of excise and sales tax on liquor sales against Rs.8000 crore now.

Dr. JP said today that mere allocation of funds without a radical restructuring of systems was a futile exercise. There has been no substantial decline in poverty over the past two decades despite huge budgetary allocations. On the contrary, there has been an increase in the incidence of distress among vulnerable sections of the population.

Referring to the proposal to supply rice at Rs.2 a kg, he pointed out that going by the number of white cards already issued, the number of the poor exceeded the State’s population. On top of it, the Government now proposed to issue more and more white cards. On construction of houses for the poor, Dr. JP said the scheme was commendable but the Government turned a Nelson’s eye to the huge irregularities. Everybody knew about corruption in the execution of irrigation schemes but there was no word in the budget about curbing it.

Dr. JP said that the budget “does not address critical problems in education and health care or in tackling unemployment or making agriculture remunerative. For instance, Borabanda locality in Hyderabad with a population of over 10000 does not have a single Government school as a result of which even the poor are forced to send their children to costly private schools. Reposing its faith in ‘Aarogyasri’, which caters to a miniscule of people needing surgeries, the Government continues to neglect the public health sector. The Government fails to address the problem of the unemployed. Even if all the special economic zones materialize, they provide jobs only to less than 3 lakhs of people whereas there are 15 lakhs of educated unemployed. There is no attempt at making them employable by imparting the requisite skills or making farming remunerative with provision of credit, extension work and value addition. The so-called debt relief benefited only one-third of the farming community covered by official channels of credit while the remainder, dependent on private moneylenders, are pushed deeper into debt.

Dr. JP said that extension of quality education and health care free of cost to one and all, imparting of skills to the jobless and ensuring higher incomes to farmers alone will eradicate poverty.

Dr. JP complimented Finance Minister K. Rosaiah for abiding by the Fiscal Responsibility and Budget Management Act targets and for extending scholarships and fee reimbursement to all backward class students on par with those of Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes.

However, the huge debt burden of the State exceeding over Rs.100,000 crore exposed a serious structural problem. Most of the revenue the State realized on sale of Government lands and liquor went towards the repayment of loans along with interest.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

LSP Enunciates “Pancha Sutras” for Development of Tirupati

Dr. JP Launches LSP’s campaign for Tirupati Elections

LSP announces Sri T. Janardhan Naidu as its Mayoral Candidate

Lok Satta Party has launched its campaign for the Tirupati Municipal Corporation elections. Lok Satta Party came up with “Pancha Sutras”, a five-point policy framework, for the development of the Tirupati city.

Lok Satta Party has announced Sri T. Janardhan Naidu, IAS (Rtd.) and former Chittoor district collector as its mayoral candidate for Tirupati City. Sri T. Janardhan Naidu is also the party district president.

Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan launched the party’s campaign on Tuesday with a three-day padayatra in the temple city and interacted with the public en route. The padayatra by Dr. JP and the party activists is being carried out to get first-hand information on public grievances and to put across to the public the “Pancha Sutras.” Youth were seen interacting with Dr. JP throughout the walk.

The “Pancha Sutras” of LSP for empowering the citizens of Tirupati and providing them an accountable, responsive, and responsible city government are enunciated as follows:
1. Enabling people’s participation in governance by forming Division committees and allocating the committee Rs. 1 crore for five years;
2. Putting in place a 24-hour toll-free call center to ensure faster response to civic complaints and paying the complainant Rs. 100 per day of delay from the salary of the concerned official(s);
3. Lok Satta Party to recall its corporator/mayor in case of substantial evidence on charges of corruption, criminality, or land grabbing;
4. Eliminating corruption by ensuring complete transparency in public procurement and tendering process and forming a special squad under the combined aegis of the revenue and police departments; and finally
5. Taking steps to improve public sanitation and building ring road, bypass roads, and flyovers to withstand the heavy traffic of pilgrims.

Dr. JP said Lok Satta Party is moving with clear goals of making the fruits of development reach the poorest man and woman and ensuring dignity, equality, and opportunity for all.

He urged the people of the Tirupati City to reject the prevailing political culture that brazenly uses money and muscle to coerce and woo the poor at election time to rob them later. He called for greater participation of youth and middle classes in politics to usher in the New Political Culture.

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Dr. JP Calls for Greater Participation of Women in Politics

Women should look at politics as a means of achieving self-respect and self-reliance for themselves as well as the people at large said Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan. He spoke at the self-employment training programme organized by Mahila Satta, the women wing of Lok Satta Party at the party State office. Representatives from Mahoobnagar Ideal Women’s Association provided training to women in making chocolate, surf, pain balm, liquid soap, shampoo. The women who acquired training will in turn train other women in their localities.

He said women should not get disheartened with the immediate problems they grapple with, but step forward with confidence and take an active part in politics. He said moving away of women from politics because it has got corrupt and criminalized will only aggravate the problem.

Dr. JP explained the women present the importance of their participation in local governance proposed by Lok Satta Party at the ward and district levels. He said women have developed an aversion to politics because bandhs, rastarokos, slander, and fighting have become an indispensable part of the prevailing political culture. He said the life of the common man will deteriorate further if the political culture remains the same. He said Lok Satta Party came into being to usher in a New Political Culture.

He said instead of becoming a private affair of a few as with other political parties, provisions have been made to enable genuine people’s participation in Lok Satta Party. He said LSP is built to be the property of the people and steps are taken to not cause any inconvenience to people during party events and maintain dignity even while criticizing someone. He said in a democracy the common man is king. He said empowering local governments and providing quality education, effective healthcare, and employment opportunities to all constitute the main agenda of LSP.

He said Lok Satta Party has reserved space for women in the organizational structure and party tickets like no other party has. He exhorted women to utilize this opportunity. He said greater women’s participation will expedite the process of ushering in the New Political culture.

He said setting up division-level governments to take governance to the door step of citizens ranks high on the agenda of Lok Satta Party for the coming GHMC elections and greater women’s participation in local governance will ensure 100% results. He exhorted the women who undertook training to in turn train women in their localities and help them stand on their own feet.

Mahila Satta State general secretary, Mrs. D. Saroja, treasurer Mrs. D. Manorama and Dr. Shoib, Mrs. K. Geetamurthy, Mrs. Rama Devi, Mrs. Subhashini, Mrs. Gajanani, Mrs. Umabala, Mrs. Mudhosid, and Mrs. Fatima have participated in the programme.