Reena Gupta is a politician and presently the Nationwide Spokesperson for Aam Aadmi Celebration. 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 setting, 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 Celebration.
In a dialog with FII, Reena discusses the issues with the present central authorities, the importance of the Girls’s Reservation Invoice, and ladies’s political participation. She additionally emphasises the rising environmental points and the necessity to handle them.
FII: You will have labored with main organisations like Oxfam and World Financial institution, how and why did you turn the profession path totally?
Reena Gupta: Most of my life, my work has at all times been about making an attempt to make a constructive influence 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, you realize, be resourceful, must make it possible for there are individuals who don’t have entry to those sources, how can now we have a constructive influence 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 sources. After that, I went overseas, and I studied just a little extra as a result of I wished to grasp extra about policymaking. I studied in a global growth programme. So I wished to see what are the opposite nations doing. What’s it that we will be taught from them, and, that’s how I ended up on the World Financial institution. And it was a great 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 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 saved feeling that top-of-the-line 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 once we determined to type a celebration, that’s after I resigned from the World Financial institution, and I mentioned I wish to get into politics and be capable 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 folks like us must 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 wish 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 individuals with vested pursuits solely entering 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 fingers soiled and see how it’s. And that’s the place I’m.
FII: In order you talked about that you simply have been working briefly for Congress. What made you resolve to affix AAP, what was so placing about AAP that you simply left Congress?
Reena Gupta: AAP was a small group. And in addition what I felt was that it was a really proactive group, a gaggle 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 although Congress was in energy, Congress was nearly behaving like an opposition, it was not taking choices that it ought to have taken rapidly. It was identical 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 turn into only a very huge celebration, and it had misplaced connection to the bottom. Whereas in Aam Aadmi Celebration, I felt that it was very linked to the bottom, it was very linked to the individuals’s voices, and their wants, and likewise targeted on delivering what individuals wanted.
FII: In order you talked about that AAP began as this small celebration with the agenda of combating in opposition to corruption. So referring to the current state of affairs, many AAP leaders are questioned in corruption circumstances, for example, Manish Sisodia, why do you suppose that the celebration is being focused proper now?
Reena Gupta: Bhartiya Janta Celebration has discovered methods to handle a variety of events, particularly Congress. We see within the final 7 to eight years, lots of people from Congress joined the Bhartiya Janta Celebration and BJP is aware of methods to handle Congress, however they haven’t discovered methods to handle Aam Aadmi Celebration. And, a variety of media individuals have advised 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 Celebration. They aren’t capable of perceive who these chota chota ragtag activist varieties of people that’ve come collectively. And have little or no cash and little or no sources. And nonetheless, the volunteer base is so enormous and passionate.
For the Bhartiya Janta Celebration, their complete RSS equipment is what helps them however we don’t have equipment like that. You take a look at our election campaigns, you take a look at our elections, they’re managed with little or no sources with a crew of volunteers. So BJP is just not capable of decipher this mannequin, what sort of a mannequin is that this, that folks 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 a variety of the BJP staff collectively. And what’s it that Aam Aadmi Celebration brings, that every one of those individuals, they only present up, they arrive they take day without work for our elections?
You will note individuals flying in from actually everywhere in the world to afford these election campaigns coming and serving to at their very own expense, staying someplace with associates and, working actually a day in and time out. And these are the individuals who handle our social media, these are the individuals who handle a variety of our campaigns, they usually at all times give you progressive concepts, the songs that now we have for all our campaigns, they’re all professional bono performed by these volunteers. So, that is what Bhartiya Janta Celebration is afraid of, this equipment which can’t be damaged, which can’t be purchased.
And that’s why you will notice 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 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, some 200 circumstances in opposition to our MLAs none of these circumstances has ever stood the court docket of regulation, they’ve all been acquitted. And the identical approach now you see that each second one who’s someway related to Mr Kejriwal is being known as for questioning. And also you make individuals 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 up these highly effective individuals, perhaps it is best to take a break and cease doing that as a result of they may come after you however that’s a name that we’ve taken and I’m positive the harassment will solely improve because the celebration turns into greater, the harassment will improve as we turn into 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 an absence of sources. It’s not like we don’t have sufficient succesful individuals 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 wish to reply. And these are the questions that folks will ask when you’ve got a mannequin of the place guarantees are delivered on. So that is the mannequin that that BJP is afraid of, they usually don’t know methods to cope with it. So I simply see extra assaults on us as we transfer ahead.
FII: You will have been an environmental activist earlier than you joined politics, do you suppose AAP’s politics align together with your environmental activism?
Reena Gupta: I really feel that we’re the one celebration who’re speaking in regards to the setting. We’re the one celebration who’s taking steps to truly clear up a few of these very deep issues. For instance, you speak in regards to the air air pollution situation in Delhi, it’s a difficulty which is type 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 mentioned than performed, as a result of additionally it is 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 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, will probably be very tough for us to work on our personal, nonetheless, we’ve performed a variety of work.
And this yr Delhi’s air has been the cleanest in 6 years. And as Mr Kejriwal mentioned, we’re very proud of the work we’ve performed. 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 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 obtained from these industries, however they proceed to pollute our airshed.
So until now we have an financial mannequin, the place we make it possible for setting 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 will 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 we are going to proceed. If Delhi can do a crackdown on industrial and polluting industries, why can’t you do a crackdown on a polluting business that’s how I see the needle shifting.
FII: So, aside from calling out to all of the stakeholders in Delhi’s air pollution contribution, what different measures and insurance policies are the Delhi authorities pondering of taking this yr?
Reena Gupta: Earlier, as a result of Delhi has this complicated governance construction, there may be Delhi MCD, there may be 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 not less than these 2. And rubbish administration is one huge space that we hope to work on as a result of a variety 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 huge piece.
We’re additionally engaged on this complete concept 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 clear up it. In fact, planting extra timber that may go on. Additionally, the Inexperienced Delhi App, which we’ve already launched 2 years in the past is one other instrument 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.
We hope that we’ll have an increasing number of public transport so that folks 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 reasonably priced. In order that persons are capable of depart that transport and transfer to public transport. All around the world, we’re seeing that an increasing number of cities are making their public transport free. And as you realize, in Delhi, buses for girls are free. We hope that we’ll be capable to make Metro additionally free for not less than girls 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 have been truly landfills and now they’re like mountains. There are individuals residing round these areas. So now that AAP has authorities in each MCD and Delhi, what are the measures that you can be taking to sort out this huge situation?
Reena Gupta: We wish 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 the entire neighbouring space, these individuals shouldn’t be residing there. There are plans to maneuver these individuals 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 it will turn into like a stupendous public park, as soon as we do away with the waste. So that’s the long-term answer.
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 need to 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 start out decreasing the waste that we produce. We’re additionally engaged on this decentralised composting mannequin the place within the neighbourhoods, we may have these composting areas the place individuals 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 a variety 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 notice a variety of modifications to the waste economic 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 take a look at the political mannequin and the present regime, there may be 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 explanation we’re in such a large number on this nation, is as a result of there will not be sufficient girls in politics. I truly really feel that now we have allowed males to manipulate our lives and take all our choices for approach too lengthy. It’s actually excessive time that we want an increasing number of girls in politics and I really feel that our nation would have been in significantly better form had girls been allowed to be in politics.
And in addition, 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 fingers soiled. I typically I do really feel odd that in a variety of conferences that I might take part in, there might be simply 1 or 2 girls.
However that’s slowly altering. And I can talk about Aam Aadmi Celebration which is a really protected area for girls. 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 to take choices. Until girls get in, it’ll at all times be a male-dominated society and for the way lengthy can we permit males to maintain taking our choices?
FII: What do you concentrate on Girls’s Reservation Invoice and why is it nonetheless pending?
Reena Gupta: In case you take a look at a few of the BJP’s previous manifestos, they’ve spoken in regards to the Girls’s Reservation Invoice they usually’ve mentioned they wish to assist it. The BJP desires to assist it. Congress desires to assist it. Aam Aadmi Celebration desires to assist it. These are the three largest events proper now within the nation. Everyone desires to assist it.
So I hope the ladies in different events and the leaders of the Bharatiya Janta Celebration will realise that it’s the want of the hour when now we have girls in management positions. The ladies should minimize throughout celebration traces. And actually all of us must get collectively. I don’t suppose 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 girls 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 must be no darkish spots anyplace in Delhi. Among the roads are Delhi authorities roads, some are central authorities and a variety of the roads are literally MCD roads, that’s the place there was once a variety of darkish spots. Already the plan is collectively, we simply need to go forward and implement it. There might be extra CCTV cameras in Delhi so that girls 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 have extra girls 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 girls in additional public areas, and they’re going to be capable to transfer about extra freely, and that itself will make issues safer for girls.
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 fingers 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 protected as a result of many of the Delhi Police’s time truly will get spent defending the VVIPs. We’ll once more ship a proposal to the central authorities that there may be police for Lutyens Delhi, however there needs to be separate police that defend 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 deal with.
The interview has been paraphrased and condensed for readability, on the interviewer’s discretion.