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Interview with Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan:

ICMR India ICMR India ICMR India


Q: How do you generate funds for the day-to-day working of Lok Satta?

We are getting a lot of support in kind. The cash component of what we receive will come to around 15-20 percent while the rest is the non-cash component. There are times when sponsors do come for a particular campaign. We have to be careful with respect to our funding pattern due to the kind of work we are doing. Credibility is very important in this area. We do not accept funds from foreigners and foreign institutions.

Q: What are the future plans of Lok Satta?

We will be continuing with our campaigns on electoral reforms, judicial reforms, decentralization of power and instruments of accountability. We are also focusing on specific sectors like education, healthcare and power sectors. At the heart of Lok Satta is the issue of electoral system reforms. We will soon be launching a national campaign with the name Janadesh. This will be a neutral platform where different social groups in different states can come together for achieving specific objectives. Lok Satta is slowly getting into a mode of being a repository for researches on governance related studies and research.

Q: Earlier you spoke about the need for a neutral platform for bringing different social groups together and also about the need for partnering. What are the hindrances that Lok Satta has faced in this direction?

Lok Satta has strong presence in Andhra Pradesh. That strength attracted other social groups towards us. But the grassroots level operations did not happen in other states. If I go to Maharashtra, the common men do not know me or the objectives of the organization. They cannot be mobilized by me. It is difficult for us to develop grassroots level bases nationally. Thus the need for a movement in each state. And all these movements should come together. We believe Janadesh would help each other to grow. The movement should be able to build a massive communication campaign aimed at reforms and should build effective response capture mechanisms. Most of us do what is good for us. Politicians do what is good for them. We need to align the self interest of all of us for the national good.

Q: You have been a successful bureaucrat. Why did you leave such a respectable position and shifted to governance reforms?

It was a deep concern for democracy that made me join the civil services after getting a formal qualification in medicine and the same reason was responsible for me embracing the new role too. For me, there was a need to fill the gap between 'what is' and 'what ought to be' in delivery of governance services. While my achievements as a bureaucrat were significant, they were miniscule when we take the big picture. There was a need to change the system and it is difficult to change the system by working from within.

Q: How has Lok Satta evolved through the ages?

We wanted to build a mass movement which by definition has to be truly democratic. Hence some of us got together and formed a society. Initially the nuances of organizational structure were not charted out. FDR was thus formed in 1996. In 1997, Lok Satta was formed. FDR acted as the moral authority behind Lok Satta, which was conceived as a democratic and open movement.

I would like Lok Satta to be independent of me. Now a days, I don't look into the organization on a day to day basis. We are not afraid to be redundant some day. In the earlier days, we needed to persuade everyone continuously and my activities were more at a grassroots levels on a day to day basis. Now there are strategies and goals. There has been institutional corrections and reforms, that does not mean that Lok Satta's work is over. Now we need to look into tangible results. We have to move from the institutional correction based goals to post reform objectives, from abstract to concrete.

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