Interview with Deepak Mittal

How many times in the past have you felt that our Government doesn’t truly care for the aam janta, that rampant corruption in our bureaucracy is hampering our country’s development? How many times have you thought that we need a change? Yet no one seemed to take the initiative. No one dared to challenge the might of the established political parties. Those who did, fell off the wayside due to lack of public support.

Deepak Mittal realized that the change needs to begin before the situation worsened. He decided to change the legislative system right from the core – the National assembly or the Lok Sabha. He and a few acquaintances, all with same ideals, formed the Jago Party, a party that would try to make our government finally a government for the people. Here is an exclusive interview with the founder and president of the party, Deepak Mittal.

VP: What made you feel that it was time for the people to try to sort out the mess our bureaucracy is in, right from the source of the problem?

Deepak: Before starting Jago Party, I talked to many people. All of them replied, “All politician are the same, sab chor hain . We do not have any alternative”. I strongly believe that crores of people think similarly and that is why educated people seldom vote. Bureaucrats have to dance to the tunes of politicians. If master is honest, servants cannot go wrong. It is an open secret that plum posts are given to officers close to ministers or those who would give maximum bribe. See how an upright police officer like Kiran Bedi was made to run from pillar to post. People are highly frustrated with the existing political and economic set up. So now, the time is ripe to launch a movement to change the present rotten system.

There are a lot of people around (Shiv Khera’s contesting the previous general elections, for example) with good intentions for the country who have, unfortunately, struggled to make an impact in the world of politics. What makes you feel that the party you founded would differ from the others and make achieve its goals?

DM: We should not expect miracles in a few days. All parties took years to grow. Jago is also no exception. We would like to bring all like-minded people/ organizations onto a single platform. We need sustained effort, patience and perseverance to succeed.

VP: Illiteracy is probably what hampers India’s development as a whole the most. You have demanded that this problem be sorted by providing all poor Indians with free, and mandatory, education up till class 10. This is something several previous governments have tried (or at least stated that they will try) to achieve. How would your party’s efforts be different from others so as to accomplish this, and how do you plan to enforce education being mandatory?

DM: Poor parents don’t send their children to schools because (a) Government school’s quality is not good, parents know their children will not get any job even after studying. (b) Child labor gives them some easy money plus better future prospects. For example a boy, working with scooter mechanic, will himself become a mechanic someday.

Job oriented quality education in English medium itself will stop drop outs. One should get appointment letter and degree together. No other politicians can dare to speak for English medium education, as they get votes by politicizing language issue. Besides, unlike other political parties, we are in favor of all children studying in private English medium schools and government bearing the cost of poor children’s education. Other political parties are protecting inefficient government schools, while we want to work through efficient private school system.

Rs.600/- per month benefit will also be linked with mandatory child education.

VP: One of the main causes that the Jago party wants to fight is reservation, and you want to abolish it completely. Why does your party feel so strongly against all forms of reservations?

DM: Main three pillars of Jago are (a) Equality (b) Freedom and (c) Development. Not only reservation, we are against any form of discrimination. We are even against tourist department charging higher fee from foreign nationals.

VP: Your party wants to make the Police force an independent organization, and give it more powers such as giving it the right to punish criminals. Isn’t there a big chance for the police to abuse this power? We have seen the police abusing their powers previously already, wouldn’t giving them these right potentially cause more problems than sort?

DM: A custom officer can punish duty-evaders, a labor inspector has power to punish any shop keepers. Then why not police? Affected persons can always approach a court.

A corrupt officer can always abuse his power. It is valid for all, even for judges. There should be strong mechanism to check corruption & nepotism. Why do we think that a judge would always be honest and police officer would always be corrupt? Both come from the same background.

VP: The Police force is definitely in a mess. A look at the recent Noida double murder case backs that up. In this case, the corpse of the chief accused is found on the terrace of the scene of the crime, forensic evidence isn’t kept securely, people were able to walk in and out of the house at will, the post mortem says the victim died 18-24 hours earlier than the police claims. What would your party look to do to fix these problems?

DM: Politicians are least bothered about increasing crimes. Police force are not properly trained & equipped. Most of the criminals have political support. There is no institutional functional autonomy for the police. The result of all this is that the police is highly demoralized.

VP: Can you tell us more about your intentions to give every voter Rs. 600, and why that figure in particular?

DM: Government offers different type of subsidies like food, electricity, fertilizers, loan waivers, free homes etc.Most of these benefits are cornered by politicians, officers and middlemen.We wish to distribute the same money among all eligible citizens equally. Money will be deposited directly into beneficiary’s bank account/ smart card. There would be no middle man, hence no corruption. This figure was arrived at by dividing numbers of voters by total government spending on different subsidies.

VP: What about those voters, as in the poor farmers, who don’t have a bank account or smart card? How would they avail the money to be given to them?

DM: All citizens must have one tamper proof (biometrics / IRIS enabled) identity card/ smart card. This same card can be used for multi purposes. This would also check crimes / terrorism/ infiltration to a large extent. Government would provide this card to all eligible citizens.

VP: Your party counts KPS Gill as one of the people you admire. What do you make of the controversies surrounding him, the sexual harassment case of 1996, the allegations that he spoilt Indian Hockey, and his subsequent sacking when the IHF was dissolved?

DM: When we say KPS Gill, we mean either KPS Gill as an effective policeman who eradicated terrorism or some one like him. This is the way terrorism can be eradicated. By the way he is an IPS officer, his job is not to promote sports.

VP: Finally, how soon can we expect the Jago party to be contesting any election?

DM: Hopefully we should be able to contest 2009 Lok Sabha election in a big way.

Raveesh Bhalla