–By Arvind Kejriwal
Mechanical Engineer from IIT Kharagpur, he joined Indian Revenue Service in 1992. He started Parivartan, a Delhi based citizen’s movement for transparency and accountability in governance, in 2000. He was awarded Ramon Magsaysay award in the year 2006 for emergent leadership for his contribution to Right to Information movement in India.
Have you ever seen the same road or footpath being made several times over but the road in front of your house never gets repaired? We wonder why the government can’t ask us before taking these decisions.
A silent revolution has just begun in Delhi. People in some parts of Delhi are directly taking decisions about governance of their area. Local officials and politicians simply obey their verdicts. Sounds incredible?
Residents of Trilokpuri and Sonia Vihar were one day surprised to receive a letter from their ward councilor stating that the councilor had decided to do only those things which the people of his/her area direct him/her to do. “I feel that Indian democracy is a farce. People elect their leaders once every five years and then plead before them in the next five years. I have decided to change this. I will do only those things which you direct me to do,” said the letter.
Initiated in Delhi by Swaraj Abhiyan along with the councilors of these two wards, each ward has been divided into 10 mohallas. All residents of a mohalla are members of mohalla sabha. Each mohalla sabha meets once in two months. The councilor and all local municipal officials are present at mohalla sabha meetings. People decide how the municipal funds should be used in that mohalla. Till now, some officials or politicians used to take those decisions. Now, you can just walk into these mohalla sabhas and demand that your road be repaired. Your demand would be taken down as minutes of meeting and funds would be sanctioned on the spot by the councilor. If the number of proposals received are more than the funds available, then voting takes place to decide priority i.e. which work should be done first.
These councilors have announced that the payment for any work would be done to a contractor only if mohalla sabha expresses satisfaction. This would deal a body blow to corruption. Roads, which used to come off within a few days of being made, would now hopefully last their life.
Lists of those who are poor and deserve government social security benefits like old age pension, handicapped pension, widow pension etc are now being made in these mohalla sabhas. People collectively, transparently and openly decide who is the poorest and deserves pensions. Earlier, only party people or those close to the councilor used to benefit from these schemes.
The Lieutenant Governor of Delhi has not only congratulated these councilors but has also requested the Municipal Commissioner to explore the possibility of starting this in other parts of Delhi.
Arti Mehra, former Mayor of Delhi has decided to start this experiment in her ward from 1st September 2009.
The ball is now in the people’s court. The students and youth have a greater responsibility. Join Swaraj Abhiyan. Start this experiment in your area as well. Contact us at 9718255455.