FII Interviews: AAP Nationwide Spokesperson Reena Gupta Talks About Opposition And Dissent, Ladies’s Political Participation and Atmosphere

Reena Gupta is a politician and at present the Nationwide Spokesperson for Aam Aadmi Occasion. She is also a member of the State-Degree Environmental Affect Evaluation Authority in Delhi (SEIAA). She writes common columns on air air pollution, the setting, and social justice in Indian newspapers such because the Hindustan Occasions, The Occasions of India, and The Indian Specific.

Reena Gupta left her notable profession on the World Financial institution in 2013 to hitch 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 girls’s political participation. She additionally emphasises the rising environmental points and the necessity to deal with them.

FII: You’ve gotten 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 all the time been about attempting to make a constructive impression within the nation. One of many the explanation why I moved again from the US was additionally as a result of I needed to be in India and I’ve all the time felt that lots of people like me, who come from privileged backgrounds, have had the great 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 will now we have a constructive impression of their lives.

First I used to be residing 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 needed to grasp extra about policymaking. I studied in a world growth programme. So I needed to see what are the opposite nations doing. What’s it that we will be taught 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 favored doing. However I all the time stored feeling that I used to be not doing sufficient. And, in fact, we have 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 primarily based on what they thought was proper. And I stored feeling that among the best methods to make a distinction within the nation can be truly to get into politics.

Supply: Reena Gupta’s Instagram

I had a small stint with Congress. I didn’t agree with the ideology and the way in which they functioned. And I used to be a part of the India In opposition to Corruption motion, as properly. So after we determined to type a celebration, that’s once I resigned from the World Financial institution, and I mentioned 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 needed, he might have made some huge cash as properly. 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.

Additionally Learn: Why Are Ladies Below-Represented In Politics?

We all the time preserve 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 may have folks with vested pursuits solely moving into politics. And if solely these varieties 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 have been working briefly for Congress. What made you resolve to hitch AAP, what was so placing about AAP that you just left Congress?

Reena Gupta: AAP was a small group. And in addition what I felt was that it was a really proactive group, a bunch that basically 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 regardless 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 believed it had develop into only a very large celebration, and it had misplaced connection to the bottom. Whereas in Aam Aadmi Occasion, I felt that it was very linked to the bottom, it was very linked 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 celebration with the agenda of preventing towards corruption. So referring to the current situation, many AAP leaders are questioned in corruption circumstances, as an illustration, Manish Sisodia, why do you suppose that the celebration is being focused proper now?

Reena Gupta: Bhartiya Janta Occasion has realized learn how to handle loads of 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 learn how to handle Congress, however they haven’t realized learn how to handle Aam Aadmi Occasion. And, loads of media folks have advised me that in non-public conversations, each Mr Amit Shah and the senior leaders there, say that we’re not capable of decipher Aam Aadmi Occasion. They don’t seem to be capable of perceive who these chota chota ragtag activist type of individuals are, who’ve come collectively, have little or no cash and only a few assets and nonetheless, the volunteer base is so large and passionate.

For the Bhartiya Janta Occasion, their entire RSS equipment is what helps them however we don’t have equipment like that. You have a look at our election campaigns, they’re managed with little or no assets with a group of volunteers. So BJP just 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 obsessed with points? In order to say it’s not a Hindutva ideology which is what actually holds loads of the BJP staff collectively. And what’s it that Aam Aadmi Occasion brings, that every one of those folks, they only present up, they arrive they usually take time without work for our elections?

Supply: The Hindu

You will notice folks flying in from actually everywhere in the world to afford these election campaigns and serving to at their very own expense, staying someplace with buddies and, working actually day in and day trip. And these are the individuals who handle our social media, these are the individuals who handle loads of our campaigns, they usually all the time 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 fearful of, this equipment which can’t be damaged, which can’t be purchased.

Supply: Reena Gupta’s Instagram

And that’s why you will note that they will goal our leaders much more. And now we have all been advised by Mr Kejriwal, that every one of us ought to simply be able to go to jail. As a result of should you actually have a look at what they’ve been doing from the start, most of our MLAs have circumstances towards them. There are some 200 circumstances towards our MLAs none of these circumstances has ever stood the courtroom of legislation. And the identical approach 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 a giant private toll.

For instance, my household has been telling me now, that the entire day you’re sitting on TV and, taking up these highly effective folks, perhaps it is best to take a break and cease doing that as a result of they are going to come after you however that’s a name that we’ve taken and I’m certain the harassment will solely enhance because the celebration turns into larger, the harassment will enhance as now we have develop into extra profitable in such a brief span of time now now we have governments in two states.

I feel the Delhi MCD loss is what actually triggered this entire vendetta towards the Aam Aadmi Occasion as a result of BJP actually thought that they have been invincible in MCD. They’d been ruling for 15 years. So should you have been to convey a mannequin in entrance of the folks of this nation, this type of politics is feasible, versus all the time moving into hate politics and all the time creating these inner enemies ki abhi yeh dushman hai abhi woh dushman hai, and actually take the dialog away from the true problems with the nation. BJP doesn’t need to reply why is it after 70 years, nonetheless, a big a part of the inhabitants is under the poverty line.

Reena gupta

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 may have a mannequin of the place guarantees are delivered on. So that is the mannequin that that BJP is fearful of, they usually don’t know learn how to take care of it. So I simply see extra assaults on us as we transfer ahead.

FII: You’ve gotten been an environmental activist earlier than you joined politics, do you suppose AAP’s politics align along with your environmental activism?
Reena Gupta: I really feel that we’re the one celebration who’re speaking concerning the setting. We’re the one celebration who’s taking steps to really resolve a few of these very deep issues. For instance, you discuss concerning the air air pollution situation in Delhi, it’s a difficulty which is form of cross-sectional, it impacts whether or not you’re wealthy otherwise you’re poor.

What has occurred is that loads of wealthy folks have form of eliminated themselves from the system. They don’t want the federal government for something. They’ve non-public colleges, they’ve non-public hospitals, they’ve non-public transport, however the air continues to be an equaliser irrespective of should you’re wealthy, otherwise you’re poor. All of us breathe the identical air. The wealthy folks have form of privatised loads of their companies and no one actually cares if the general public hospitals will not be good, if the general public colleges will not be good, as a result of that’s been the norm. That is the rationale why our Chief Minister may be very clear that now we have to scrub Delhi’s air.

Reena Gupta

However once more, cleansing Delhi’s air is less complicated mentioned than achieved, as a result of it’s also a difficulty, which is an airshed situation. 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’ll be able to’t do it your self, you’re blaming others“, however the airshed of Delhi is actually a 300-kilometre radius of Delhi. So until you may have all of the actors in that airshed working collectively, it will likely be very troublesome for us to work on our personal, nonetheless, we’ve achieved loads of work.

Supply: Reena Gupta’s Instagram

And this yr Delhi’s air has been the cleanest in 6 years. And as Mr Kejriwal mentioned, we’re very pleased with the work we’ve achieved. However we nonetheless have a really lengthy option 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 present you a small instance, as a result of we did a giant 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 might 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 setting and ecology go hand in hand, and one doesn’t undergo due to the opposite, that mannequin must be for the entire nation, solely then we will make higher progress. In any other case, there’ll be little or no incremental progress, which in fact, 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 yr?

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 celebration, there might be higher coordination between at the least these 2. And rubbish administration is one large space that we hope to work on as a result of loads of 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 large piece.

We’re additionally engaged on this entire thought of constructing very decentralised hyperlocal setting plans. So on the ward stage communities can get collectively, can establish of their neighbourhood what’s it that’s inflicting air air pollution and the way will we resolve 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 situation, you’ll be able to report it on the Inexperienced Delhi App, and it will get solved in a time-bound method.

Supply: Reena Gupta’s Instagram

We hope that we are going to have increasingly more public transport so that individuals change from non-public vehicles and personal two-wheelers to public transport. We additionally despatched proposals to the central authorities to make Delhi Metro extra reasonably priced. In order that individuals are capable of depart that transport and transfer to public transport. Everywhere in the world, we’re seeing that increasingly more cities are making their public transport free. And as you recognize, in Delhi, buses for girls are free. We hope that we’ll have the ability to make Metro additionally free for at the least ladies and we’re actually engaged on that.

Additionally Learn: FII Interviews: MP Rajya Sabha Fauzia Khan Talks About Ladies’s Reservation Invoice, Minorities And Ladies’s Political Participation

FII: It’s fairly abominable how there are these mountains of waste in Delhi. These have been truly landfills and now they’re like mountains. There are folks residing 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 large situation?

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 mentioned, when it burns it pollutes the air and the leachate from it pollutes the groundwater. And in addition in the entire neighbouring space, these folks shouldn’t be residing 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 can develop into like a wonderful public park, as soon as we do away with the waste. So that’s the long-term answer.

Supply: Enterprise Normal

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 loads with Delhiites. As a result of we’re all of the culprits, all of us produce a lot waste and now we have to start out 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.

Additionally Learn: The Politicisation Of Air Air pollution Warnings

We’re engaged on additionally coaching loads of 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 might be given an area the place they will convey the waste and it may be recycled in a scientific method. So you will note loads of modifications to the waste financial system of Delhi

FII: What do you must say to the ladies who’re averse to becoming a member of politics? And in addition, whenever you have 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 lady whereas getting into politics?

Reena Gupta: I feel the rationale we’re in such a multitude on this nation, is as a result of there will not be sufficient ladies in politics. I truly really feel that now we have allowed males to control our lives and take all our selections for approach too lengthy. It’s actually excessive time that we want 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.

When you have a look at the proportion of girls in Norway and Sweden, of their Parliament it’s rather more than males, and also you have a look at a few of the implausible insurance policies that they’ve come out with. That’s actually a mannequin that we have to emulate. And politics wouldn’t have been so poisonous and so egoistic if there have been extra ladies. However I do really feel very strongly that we want extra ladies in politics, I’ve little doubt about that.

Reena Gupta

And in addition, in some methods, it’s a hen and egg scenario. As a result of if we preserve ready on the sidelines and preserve 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 loads of conferences that I’d take part in, there might be simply 1 or 2 ladies.

However that’s slowly altering. And I can talk about Aam Aadmi Occasion which is a really secure area for girls. All of the leaders are very acutely aware about how they conduct themselves and the way they communicate. We’re all given area to, voice our opinions and to take selections. Until ladies get in, it’ll all the time be a male-dominated society and for a way lengthy can we permit males to maintain taking our selections?

FII: What do you concentrate on Ladies’s Reservation Invoice and why is it nonetheless pending?

Reena Gupta: When you have a look at a few of the BJP’s outdated manifestos, they’ve spoken concerning the Ladies’s Reservation Invoice they usually’ve mentioned they need to assist it. The BJP desires to assist it. Congress desires to assist it. Aam Aadmi Occasion desires to assist it. These are the three largest events proper now within the nation. All people desires to assist it.

And why is it that we don’t have the Ladies’s Reservation? Effectively, as a result of the Bharatiya Janta Occasion just isn’t all in favour of passing it, in any other case, they’ve a majority each in Rajya Sabha and Lok Sabha, they will simply go forward and cross it.

Reena gupta

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 must lower throughout celebration traces. And actually all of us have to get collectively. I don’t suppose the boys are going to do it for us, we must come collectively and actually demand it.

Additionally Learn: Pink Cubicles: Is The Delhi Police’s Initiative A Step Ahead In Guaranteeing Ladies’s Security?

FII: Gender-based violence and crimes towards ladies are on the rise in Delhi. The current scenario 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 ought to be no darkish spots anyplace in Delhi. A few of the roads are Delhi authorities roads, some are central authorities and loads of the roads are literally MCD roads, and that’s the place there was once loads of darkish spots. Already the plan is collectively, we simply must go forward and implement it. There might 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 everywhere in the world that when you’ve got 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 might be extra ladies in public areas, and they’re going to have the ability to transfer about extra freely, and that itself will make issues safer for girls.

Supply: Delhi On-line

I simply hope that the central authorities does one thing about policing and that policing will get higher. However once more, that’s a difficulty that’s not in our palms and now we have to maintain going again to LG and the central authorities. We’d like police presence in areas that are infamous, and areas which aren’t secure as a result of a lot 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 will 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 remaining we’re going to handle.

The interview has been paraphrased and condensed for readability, on the interviewer’s discretion.