Interview by Ms Ambreen Zaidi
Q1-Tell us about Parivartan?
PARIVARTAN is an Initiative of informed and concerned citizens of Kanpur who believe in working together towards making continuous holistic improvements in their city. It stands and strives for strengthening the principles and practices of a vibrant, transparent and participatory democracy.
Q2-Why did you feel the need to have Parivartan?
Because Kanpur, once an important hub of commercial and industrial activities of the country, has been losing its importance for the last 4 decades. Imagine a city of more than four million people having none of the infrastructure facilities worthy of a modern urban center. Dusty congested roads with no drains or pavements; very erratic and inadequate power supply; polluted atmosphere and dying industries describe this city which earned the disrepute of being one of the dirtiest and most polluted cities of the world. The irony is that there still does not exist any political will or vision to improve this city – neither at the state level nor at the center.
Q3- What is the mission and objectives of this initiative of yours?
To provide a platform to likeminded citizens of Kanpur to share and discuss their ideas; identify the problems of the city and search for possible solutions.
To seek people’s participation and cooperation in implementing sustainable solutions for making Kanpur a cleaner and greener city.
To act as a catalyst and a bridge to enhance coordination and cooperation amongst different organs of our society – government/administrative bodies, public representatives (MP’s, MLA’s and Corporators), media, and citizens.
To develop a sense of belongingness towards the city; motivate citizens to take ownership of the city and feel proud of being a “Kanpurite”.
Q4- How did you start this massive project?
We took donations from the residents of the area to buy Rickshaws and took the services of poor rag pickers as rickshaw pullers. A token amount of Rs.30/50 per month is charged from the user/residents for availing this service.As a group, we started meeting residents and tried to convince them that they should not throw their garbage outside their houses instead hand it over to us. For this primary activity of Parivartan we visit Schools and Colleges and try to motivate students not to throw garbage on the streets/floor.
Q5- Any challenges you faced which you would like to share with us?
It was tough for us to convince people living in the slums to join us hence we did a program where we collected the children aged 8-15 from that slum and gave them a weeks training in music and dance in one of the best public schools of Kanpur, situated very near to that slum and then staged a show of 90 minutes of music and dance for the residents of that same slum, the performers were these little kids who could not have even imagined entering that public school leave apart using the orchestra and stage. We termed this program as "India meets Bharat"
We also organize regular film shows for underprivileged sections of the society. Just a few days ago we organized a special film show of "Well done Abba" for our 70 rickshaw pullers in one of the best multiplexes of kanpur where for every two tickets that we bought, one rickshaw puller was allowed free of cost and the show was house full.
Q6-What are your immediate plans for the future?
We are taking one step at a time. We plan to take up the entire city by involving all the ward members and make Kanpur the cleanest city in the world. Every ward we went we got an appreciable response hence I am confidant that we will soon realize this dream of ours.
The author is a senior journalist and editor of Blogger's Park.