Interview with Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan
Interview by - Sanjib
Dutta and Ajith
Senior Faculty Member, Faculty Associate,
ICMR (IBS Center for Management Research).
Lok Satta, founded in 1997 by Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, a
former Indian Administrative Service (IAS) officer, was the largest organized
movement in India by 2004, aimed at democratic reforms and better delivery of
governance services. Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan, Campaign Coordinator, Lok Satta in
discussion with Sanjib Dutta and Ajith Sankar R.N
About Dr. Jayaprakash Narayan:
Dr.Jayaprakash Narayan a physician by training, joined the
Indian Administrative Service (IAS) in 1980. During his nearly 17 years of
distinguished public service in various capacities, he acquired a formidable
reputation in the State of Andhra Pradesh. Dr. Narayan's experience in
government fully convinced him that what India needs today is not merely
periodic change of players, but a fundamental change in the rules of the game.
In order to translate his vision into reality, he resigned from the post of
Secretary to the government in 1996, and worked with like-minded colleagues for
the formation of Lok Satta and is currently its Campaign Coordinator.
Q: How do you think Lok Satta has been successful in its
We have the ability to mobilize public opinion on a large scale. This is
necessary to influence any public debate. Many of the NGOs are focused on narrow
areas and hence the impact of their work is restricted to only that area. We
utilize any opportunity to speak about the needed reforms in delivery of
governance services. We are quick to respond to the change in environment. In
that sense, Lok Satta has been successful.
Q: What has been the greatest achievement of Lok Satta so far?
Lok Satta had a number of achievements. I would say the September 2003 political
funding reform legislation (where Lok Satta played a significant role) is going
to bring about the most significant change in reforms in India. The impact of
that is not felt now but it will be seen in the long term.
Q: Can we call Lok Satta a pressure group?
Lok Satta is more than a pressure group. All of us feel frustrated about what is
happening around us. At the traffic junctions, at public offices…But this
frustration and discontent is transient. It soon gets dissipated. Lok Satta
would like to convert this discontent into concerted action. One of the
criticisms against Lok Satta is that we are not strident. But the point is we
see the difficulties faced by the other side also. Hence there is no one who
seriously disagrees with Lok Satta. We do not make unreasonable demands. Rather
than being populist, we have been standing with the governments on some of the
tough decisions that need to be taken.
Q: What has been the major hurdle for Lok Satta in its growth?
Results don't come everyday. And hence it is difficult to maintain a high morale
for a continuous period of time. This office works practically seven days a
week. All the people work at less than market rates. The work here is different
and there is no definitive outcome on a day to day basis. The public discourse
in the country is distorted and hence it is difficult for Lok Satta to
communicate effectively. We would like the public discourses to be focused on
solutions and not on problems. People are not that forthcoming in partnering.
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