FII Interviews: AAP Nationwide Spokesperson Reena Gupta Talks About Opposition And Dissent, Ladies’s Political Participation and Surroundings
Reena Gupta is a politician and presently the Nationwide Spokesperson for Aam Aadmi Occasion. She is also a member of the State-Stage Environmental Affect Evaluation Authority in Delhi (SEIAA). She writes common columns on air air pollution, the atmosphere, and social justice in Indian newspapers such because the Hindustan Instances, The Instances of India, and The Indian Categorical.
Reena Gupta left her notable profession on the World Financial institution in 2013 to affix the 2011 Indian anti-corruption motion in Delhi as an activist after which as a volunteer with the Aam Aadmi Occasion.
In a dialog with FII, Reena discusses the issues with the present central authorities, the importance of the Ladies’s Reservation Invoice, and ladies’s political participation. She additionally emphasises the rising environmental points and the necessity to tackle them.
FII: You have got labored with main organisations like Oxfam and World Financial institution, how and why did you turn the profession path fully?
Reena Gupta: Most of my life, my work has at all times been about making an attempt to make a optimistic affect within the nation. One of many the explanation why I moved again from the US was additionally as a result of I wished to be in India and I’ve at all times felt that lots of people like me, who come from privileged backgrounds, have had the nice fortune to be born in educated households and be resourceful, have to be sure that there are individuals who don’t have entry to those assets, so we are able to now we have a optimistic affect of their lives.
First I used to be dwelling in a village, working for a small group on problems with agriculture and farming and pure assets. After that, I went overseas, and I studied slightly extra as a result of I wished to know extra about policymaking. I studied in a global growth programme. So I wished to see what are the opposite international locations doing. What’s it that we are able to study from them, that’s how I ended up on the World Financial institution. And it was life. I imply, I used to be nonetheless doing what I preferred doing. However I at all times saved feeling that I used to be not doing sufficient. And, after all, we had been advising the federal government. However on the finish of the day, it was as much as the governments to take our recommendation or to not take our recommendation based mostly on what they thought was proper. And I saved feeling that probably the greatest methods to make a distinction within the nation can be truly to get into politics.
I had a small stint with Congress. I didn’t agree with the ideology and the best way they functioned. And I used to be a part of the India Towards Corruption motion, as nicely. So after we determined to type a celebration, that’s once I resigned from the World Financial institution, and I stated I need to get into politics and have the ability to make a distinction.
Additionally, Mr Kejriwal’s journey has been very inspiring. He was additionally on this place the place he might have remained a bureaucrat all his life. And if he wished, he might have made some huge cash as nicely. However he gave up all that as a result of, in some methods, he additionally felt that individuals like us have to get into politics.
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We at all times hold feeling that it’s very soiled, it’s very messy, I don’t need to get into it, however in some methods, then we’re additionally actually giving that area away. As a result of then you’ve got folks with vested pursuits solely stepping into politics. And if solely these sorts of individuals get into politics, then how will we ever clear up? This has been the journey the place I felt that I’ve to do it, and I’ve to get in, get my palms soiled and see how it’s. And that’s the place I’m.
FII: In order you talked about that you just had been working briefly for Congress. What made you resolve to affix AAP, what was so putting about AAP that you just left Congress?
Reena Gupta: AAP was a small group. And likewise what I felt was that it was a really proactive group, a gaggle that actually believed in doing issues, and implementing programmes and initiatives for the people who find themselves final within the queue. At that time, I felt that despite the fact that Congress was in energy, Congress was nearly behaving like an opposition, it was not taking selections that it ought to have taken shortly. It was similar to wheels inside wheels, you persuade one individual that that is what the nation wants, after which once more, there was any individual else that must be satisfied.
So I assumed it had grow to be only a very huge social gathering, and it had misplaced connection to the bottom. Whereas in Aam Aadmi Occasion, I felt that it was very related to the bottom, it was very related to the folks’s voices, and their wants, and likewise targeted on delivering what folks wanted.
FII: In order you talked about that AAP began as this small social gathering with the agenda of combating in opposition to corruption. So referring to the current situation, many AAP leaders are questioned in corruption circumstances, for example, Manish Sisodia, why do you assume that the social gathering is being focused proper now?
Reena Gupta: Bhartiya Janta Occasion has discovered methods to handle numerous events, particularly Congress. We see within the final 7 to eight years, lots of people from Congress joined the Bhartiya Janta Occasion and BJP is aware of methods to handle Congress, however they haven’t discovered methods to handle Aam Aadmi Occasion. And, numerous media folks have informed me that in non-public conversations, each Mr Amit Shah and the senior leaders there, say that we aren’t capable of decipher Aam Aadmi Occasion. They aren’t capable of perceive who these chota chota ragtag activist form of persons are, who’ve come collectively, have little or no cash and only a few assets and nonetheless, the volunteer base is so enormous and passionate.
For the Bhartiya Janta Occasion, their entire RSS equipment is what helps them however we don’t have equipment like that. You take a look at our election campaigns, they’re managed with little or no assets with a group of volunteers. So BJP isn’t capable of decipher this mannequin, what sort of a mannequin is that this, that individuals come collectively as a result of they’re keen about points? In order to say it’s not a Hindutva ideology which is what actually holds numerous the BJP employees collectively. And what’s it that Aam Aadmi Occasion brings, that every one of those folks, they simply present up, they arrive and so they take day off for our elections?
You will note folks flying in from actually all around the world to afford these election campaigns and serving to at their very own expense, staying someplace with associates and, working actually day in and time out. And these are the individuals who handle our social media, these are the individuals who handle numerous our campaigns, and so they at all times provide you with modern concepts, the songs that now we have for all our campaigns, all of them are professional bono achieved by these volunteers. So, that is what Bhartiya Janta Occasion is petrified of, this equipment which can’t be damaged, which can’t be purchased.
And that’s the reason why you will notice that they’re going to goal our leaders much more. And now we have all been informed by Mr Kejriwal, that every one of us ought to simply be able to go to jail. As a result of in the event you actually take a look at what they’ve been doing from the start, most of our MLAs have circumstances in opposition to them. There are some 200 circumstances in opposition to our MLAs none of these circumstances has ever stood the court docket of legislation. And the identical means now you see that each second one that’s by some means related to Mr Kejriwal is being referred to as for questioning. And also you make folks sit the entire day, you harass them, and it takes an enormous private toll.
For instance, my household has been telling me now, that the entire day you might be sitting on TV and, taking over these highly effective folks, perhaps you must take a break and cease doing that as a result of they’ll come after you however that’s a name that we’ve taken and I’m certain the harassment will solely improve because the social gathering turns into larger, the harassment will improve as now we have grow to be extra profitable in such a brief span of time now now we have governments in two states.
Each the Congress and BJP don’t have solutions to it. It’s not like now we have a scarcity of assets. It’s not like we don’t have sufficient succesful folks on this nation. However why is it that such a big inhabitants of the nation nonetheless doesn’t have entry to fundamental rights? So these are the questions they don’t need to reply. And these are the questions that individuals will ask when you’ve got a mannequin of the place guarantees are delivered on. So that is the mannequin that that BJP is petrified of, and so they don’t know methods to cope with it. So I simply see extra assaults on us as we transfer ahead.
FII: You have got been an environmental activist earlier than you joined politics, do you assume AAP’s politics align along with your environmental activism?
Reena Gupta: I really feel that we’re the one social gathering who’re speaking concerning the atmosphere. We’re the one social gathering who’s taking steps to truly remedy a few of these very deep issues. For instance, you speak concerning the air air pollution difficulty in Delhi, it’s a problem which is kind of cross-sectional, it impacts whether or not you might be wealthy otherwise you’re poor.
However once more, cleansing Delhi’s air is simpler stated than achieved, as a result of it is usually a problem, which is an airshed difficulty. So until the central authorities and the federal government of the neighbouring states come collectively and I do know that each time I say it, it seems like an excuse that, “you may’t do it your self, you might be blaming others“, however the airshed of Delhi is actually a 300-kilometre radius of Delhi. So until you’ve got all of the actors in that airshed working collectively, it is going to be very troublesome for us to work on our personal, nonetheless, we’ve achieved numerous work.
And this 12 months Delhi’s air has been the cleanest in 6 years. And as Mr Kejriwal stated, we’re very proud of the work we’ve achieved. However we nonetheless have a really lengthy solution to go. And we hope that as we do good work, states round us, and residents in these states begin holding their governments accountable. So simply to provide you a small instance, as a result of we did an enormous crackdown on the polluting business in Delhi, I do know that business has now moved to Gurgaon and Haryana, and a few of it has moved to Rajasthan and UP. So Delhi then loses on the income that we’d have acquired from these industries, however they proceed to pollute our airshed.
So until now we have an financial mannequin, the place we be sure that atmosphere and ecology go hand in hand, and one doesn’t undergo due to the opposite, that mannequin should be for the entire nation, solely then we are able to make higher progress. In any other case, there’ll be little or no incremental progress, which after all, we are going to proceed to push. If Delhi can do a crackdown on polluting industries, why can’t you do a crackdown on a polluting business that’s how I see the needle shifting.
FII: So, other than calling out to all of the stakeholders in Delhi’s air pollution contribution, what different measures and insurance policies are the Delhi authorities considering of taking this 12 months?
Reena Gupta: Earlier, as a result of Delhi has this complicated governance construction, there’s Delhi MCD, there’s central authorities after which the Delhi authorities. Now, as a result of Delhi MCD and Delhi authorities are each being ruled by the Aam Aadmi social gathering, there shall be higher coordination between at the very least these 2. And rubbish administration is one huge space that we hope to work on as a result of numerous rubbish in Delhi will get burned and that provides to the air air pollution. So rubbish administration and landfill administration are going to be one huge piece.
We’re additionally engaged on this entire thought of constructing very decentralised hyperlocal atmosphere plans. So on the ward degree communities can get collectively, can establish of their neighbourhood what’s it that’s inflicting air air pollution and the way will we remedy it. In fact, planting extra timber will go on. Additionally, the Inexperienced Delhi App, which we’ve already launched 2 years in the past is one other software the place we’re truly asking the residents to carry us accountable. If there’s any difficulty, you may report it on the Inexperienced Delhi App, and it will get solved in a time-bound method.
We hope that we’ll have increasingly more public transport so that individuals swap from non-public automobiles and personal two-wheelers to public transport. We additionally despatched proposals to the central authorities to make Delhi Metro extra inexpensive. In order that persons are capable of depart that transport and transfer to public transport. All around the world, we’re seeing that increasingly more cities are making their public transport free. And as you recognize, in Delhi, buses for ladies are free. We hope that we’ll have the ability to make Metro additionally free for at the very least ladies and we’re actually engaged on that.
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FII: It’s fairly abominable how there are these mountains of waste in Delhi. These had been truly landfills and now they’re like mountains. There are folks dwelling round these areas. So now that AAP has authorities in each MCD and Delhi, what are the measures that you may be taking to deal with this huge difficulty?
Reena Gupta: We need to do away with these mountains. That is all legacy waste, which has been accumulating for many years now. And it’s polluting the air as you rightly stated, when it burns it pollutes the air and the leachate from it pollutes the groundwater. And likewise in the entire neighbouring space, these folks shouldn’t be dwelling there. There are plans to maneuver these folks from that space to a few of the DUSIB (Delhi City Shelter Enchancment Board) shelters or a few of the safer neighbourhoods, after which do away with this legacy waste. And this may grow to be like a fantastic public park, as soon as we do away with the waste. So that’s the long-term resolution.
And we’re actually engaged on the entire idea of zero waste in order that we don’t proceed so as to add extra waste and proceed so as to add to that mountain. And for this, we’ll must work rather a lot with Delhiites. As a result of we’re all of the culprits, all of us produce a lot waste and now we have to begin lowering the waste that we produce. We’re additionally engaged on this decentralised composting mannequin the place within the neighbourhoods, we can have these composting areas the place folks such as you and I segregate our waste after which we throw the natural waste within the compostable space in order that then doesn’t get added to the landfills into the mountains.
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We’re engaged on additionally coaching numerous the waste pickers and the ragpickers offering them with area the place they will safely recycle a few of this materials. There’s going to be an E-waste Park developing in Delhi, the place all of those casual sector ragpickers shall be given an area the place they will convey the waste and it may be recycled in a scientific method. So you will notice numerous adjustments to the waste economic system of Delhi
FII: What do it’s important to say to the ladies who’re averse to becoming a member of politics? And likewise, if you take a look at the political mannequin and the present regime, there’s little or no room for criticism or dissent. Did you face any challenges as a girl whereas getting into politics?
Reena Gupta: I feel the explanation we’re in such a multitude on this nation, is as a result of there should not sufficient ladies in politics. I truly really feel that now we have allowed males to control our lives and take all our selections for means too lengthy. It’s actually excessive time that we’d like increasingly more ladies in politics and I really feel that our nation would have been in significantly better form had ladies been allowed to be in politics.
And likewise, in some methods, it’s a rooster and egg state of affairs. As a result of if we hold ready on the sidelines and hold ready that’s issues will get cleaner. No, they won’t get cleaner until we get in and get our palms soiled. I typically do really feel odd in numerous conferences that I might take part in, there shall be simply 1 or 2 ladies.
However that’s slowly altering. And I can discuss Aam Aadmi Occasion which is a really protected area for ladies. All of the leaders are very acutely aware about how they conduct themselves and the way they converse. We’re all given area to, voice our opinions and to take selections. Until ladies get in, it’ll at all times be a male-dominated society and for the way lengthy can we enable males to maintain taking our selections?
FII: What do you concentrate on Ladies’s Reservation Invoice and why is it nonetheless pending?
Reena Gupta: Should you take a look at a few of the BJP’s outdated manifestos, they’ve spoken concerning the Ladies’s Reservation Invoice and so they’ve stated they need to help it. The BJP needs to help it. Congress needs to help it. Aam Aadmi Occasion needs to help it. These are the three largest events proper now within the nation. Everyone needs to help it.
So I hope the ladies in different events and the leaders of the Bharatiya Janta Occasion will realise that it’s the want of the hour when now we have ladies in management positions. The ladies should reduce throughout social gathering traces. And actually all of us have to get collectively. I don’t assume the boys are going to do it for us, we should come collectively and actually demand it.
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FII: Gender-based violence and crimes in opposition to ladies are on the rise in Delhi. The current state of affairs resembles that of a decade in the past. What steps is AAP taking to handle this?
Reena Gupta: The very first thing that we plan to repair is that there needs to be no darkish spots wherever in Delhi. A few of the roads are Delhi authorities roads, some are central authorities and numerous the roads are literally MCD roads, and that’s the place there was numerous darkish spots. Already the plan is collectively, we simply must go forward and implement it. There shall be extra CCTV cameras in Delhi so that ladies really feel safer.
Once more, extra dependable public transport, as a result of there have been research which have confirmed all around the world that if in case you have extra ladies in public areas, then the area additionally turns into safer for them. And we hope that with higher lights, CCTV cameras, and higher public transport, there shall be extra ladies in public areas, and they’ll have the ability to transfer about extra freely, and that itself will make issues safer for ladies.
I simply hope that the central authorities does one thing about policing and that policing will get higher. However once more, that’s a problem that isn’t in our palms and now we have to maintain going again to LG and the central authorities. We want police presence in areas that are infamous, and areas which aren’t protected as a result of many of the Delhi Police’s time truly will get spent defending the VVIPs. We are going to once more ship a proposal to the central authorities that there might be police for Lutyens Delhi, however there must be separate police that protects the remainder of us residents. So that’s one space, we hope that the central authorities will assist us the remainder we’re going to maintain.
The interview has been paraphrased and condensed for readability, on the interviewer’s discretion.