Saturday, November 17, 2012

Fighting allegations

Someone added me to a email list and the moderator of this list, Ajay Dixit made a comment that I had mafia links. This is my reply to him, you might like to read it
"I wish Ajay Dixit explains his comment about my mafia links with truth and evidence and not some links and innuedos. We have all left our lives, comfortable jobs, families aside to fight for the nation against corruption. Do you think that someone who has a questionable past would take on the fight against the corrupt?
But one of the side effects of entering public life, are people like Ajay Dixit and his ilk. Initially, when I heard these unsubstantiated and cheap allegations against me, I felt like just quitting and going back to my cushy job - which I had quit on 12th august 2011, to fight the war for my nation. The negativity, the cheapness and the levels to which these accusers can go to filled my days and nights with questions and negativity. Prior to joining IAC, I was deep into spiritual search. Positivity and peace of mind were the effects of those meditational and blissful years.Some of my writings on spirituality can be found at
When Arvind asked me to take part in the IAC movement in Jan 2011, I decided to take a sabbatical from my activities and work for the movement. One of the primary reason was selfish. I felt that only when "What you think, what you say and what you do are aligned", do you achieve completeness, otherwise one is fractured from within. Having been exposed to the Indian knowledge system (meditation, yoga, ayurveda, astrology etc), I felt that it was the best civilizational ethos with one of the best conflict resolution systems and a holistic world view, and that this thought process based on knowledge, science and understanding should be the intellectual "jagat guru". Understanding that India can be the only "laboratory" of this knowledge system, it is extremely critical to make it a successful and prosperous nation. Therefore, when I think of the nation and what should be done to improve it, it was imperative that to become complete, I had to do what I believed in, even at the risk of destabilizing my life and exposing myself to people like Ajay Dixit.
I took up a job in 2006 end with my uncle's construction company to propagate his NGO "Remaking of Mumbai Federation" working as its secretary to plan an integrated, holistic redeveloped city to save the lives of lakhs of people living in over 20000 old and dilapidated buildings of south Mumbai. Unfortunately, my uncle died in March 2010 and the entire plan collapsed. I quit my job in Aug 2011, to fight for the nation, leaving aside my peace of mind and encountering a world which I never new - in which there would be people like Ajay Dixit whose only business is to throw muck. When the unfounded allegations against me surfaced by a RTI activist giving some interview to Mumbai Mirror, I tried to put the facts by writing a blog But the innuedoes, dark whispers, trolling by BJP supporters and Ajay Dixits of the world is taking its toll. I insisted that my name be cleared by putting my case before some of the best judges i.e. Internal Lokpal.
I am asking myself again and again, whether anything is worth this kind of negativity, whether I should go back to my earlier ways. My peace of mind is being affected. But, on the other side, i have never been a quitter. If I quit now, I would let down lakhs of people who have given so much love and respect. The last two years have been tumultous. On one side are these Ajay Dixits (a handful) and on the other lakhs of wonderful people who have given so much for others, for society and for the nation. So, like a pendulum moving from one side "Brahma or God" to "Maya or worldy affairs", I keep on oscillating. But, the pull of doing the right thing keeps me on the track of working nevertheless.
May I request Ajay Dixit (or whatever his real name is) to remove me from this hacked list. You are welcome to write any nonsense that you wish about me. God bless you."

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Anjali's sms to Gadkari on 14th Aug

Hello Mr Gadkari,
My baba (father) was in RSS and as a kid I had always heard the prayer “Namaste Sada Vatsale Matrubhmi, twayaa Hindu bhoome sukham vardhitoham” The tune, the lyrics so pure..were very close to my heart & I always felt I could do so much because of my principles in life were that of RSS. This morning when I met you, my faith was simply rocked.

How can my opposition party president have such close links with ruling party & WHY? For the sake of business? Are you supposed to do business or be our politician & work for the betterment of my country? Where is
DESH, DESHSEVA ?? Up in thin air? Compromise & seat sharing with NCP? With those who are fleecing the poor, terrorizing the farmers… Why ?

For power? Or for money?

Our RSS prayer used to teach us to bow down to our motherland, to the cause . We prayed to almighty to bless us with purity of character , spiritual bliss & lead this nation to highest pinnacle of glory, Have you forgotten the prayer or you chose to forget?

Today I step down from all
my activities. Step down from the fight against corruption cause this is a hopeless fight. I have nothing more to say… God bless my country

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Mumbai Mirror and reality

Dear friends,

Am on a pilgrimage trip to Gujarat till the 12th June. Unfortunately, my datacard was also not working, so had no access to the net. Just one day (I think 30th May), I phoned Mannu and asked him to post in my account exhorting all to work towards Anna's Mumbai meetings on 5,6 and 7th by giving my password. Today, as my internet has started, I find that all hell has broken loose.  I shall try and clarify all that has happened.

The Maharashtra Lokayukta tour of Anna had been planned by Bhrastachar Virodhi Jan Andolan (BVJA) to culminate on 5th,6th and 7th in Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane. Because IAC was kept out of the meetings and the tour, some of the volunteers felt that it was unfair that IAC was ignored, and felt that the movement started by IAC was hijacked by BVJA.

I exhorted the volunteers to leave aside all differences and work towards a united approach for Anna's meetings. But BVJA local president Bhavesh Patel started playing politics by trying to isolate me and talking to many IAC volunteers to choose between Anna and me (and many many other things to undermine me - including telling the TV channels that he has problems with me). The volunteers felt that it was unfair to ask them to make a choice as they had respect for both Anna and me. The volunteers felt that the past year and half's efforts of making IAC Mumbai strong, decentralised, internally democratic and a powerful force to fight corruption was being nullified, and that it was their duty to protect the gains that have been made. So, Naresh, Preeti, Anjali, Ravi Srivastava and Piyush wrote an email to the core committee asking them to intervene and resolve the issues and make a decision to enable smooth positive working in Mumbai.

This email was leaked by someone along with some documents against me (some old story of Lok Hsg, where I used to work) to the Mumbai Mirror (I dont know if any other newspapers have been given this email and my Lok stories). The MM reporter was to make a story which pitted IAC Mumbai against Anna, and he called to take comments. If this story had been published, it would not be true at all. If there has to be a choice between Annaji and me, then I will myself just walk away, I am not a fraction of Anna. I have the highest respect for Annaji, I have not come here to fight Annaji, I have come here to fight for him and for my nation. There is no personal agenda, nor ego, nor desire for name or fame. I actually feel uncomfortable when I am in the limelight, but I force myself to go to the media and speak in lectures because it adds value to the movement. My individuality is subservient to the cause of the movement and the nation.

Last evening, Preeti worked incessantly with the reporter trying to convince him that we are not revolting against Anna and the movement, but trying to resolve the differences between IAC and BVJA by asking the core committee to find a solution that will end this useless internal friction. I read the MM online now and think that the story is much less explosive than I thought earlier. But, it will create lots of anger, frustration, cynicism and suspicions in the minds of the volunteers. I wish that this could have been avoided. But, we have to face it.

This is an internal difference of opinion and we should not allow it to divert us from our mission of Jan Lokpal, Lokayukta and a corruption free India. Y'day's success in Mumbai and across the nation should be built upon to intensify the movement.

Meanwhile, let us present a united face to the media. And most importantly, let us make Anna's visit to Mumbai, Navi Mumbai and Thane a roaring success. I am missing you all, and therefore I will come for half a day on the 5th for Anna's meeting and to meet all of you. Please keep calm and these events will soon pass and we will be back to our usual strength and spirit.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Anna's movement today

While the goal of India against corruption movement was for getting a strong, independent and accountable Lokpal, its purpose was to galvanize the people to fight for their rights. While the goal is still incomplete, the purpose of raising the consciousness of the people against corruption has been extremely successful.

Movements are not about quick victory or loss. It is a continuous process of raising voice against injustice and an oppressive and dysfunctional system. If one studies the major movements all over the world, they are long-drawn and consists of waves and momentum in their popularity. To take an example, Mahatma Gandhi, back from South Africa, started the first campaign against British misrule in Champaran in 1917. India got independence in 1947. It took the nation 30 years of intense struggle and sacrifice of millions to gain independence from the British who at least had a nation to retreat. We are fighting an equally entrenched and probably more vicious system manned by people who do not even have the luxury of retreating into another nation. So, the struggle is going to be more intense.

I have been travelling and meeting people around the nation thisitself one more time and in larger force. The movementis not just what is visible on the roads or on TV screens year and I see the same, if not more, palpable anger and determination to transform the nation in the eyes and words of the common people. Though there is a definite feeling that the corrupt forces have outfoxed and outmanouvered the will of the nation, it seems temporary - till the will of the people asserts again . The movement is in the hearts and minds of people. What one saw on the streets of the nation is just the manifestation of that anger. And that manifestation will be visible again and again as the movement takes a decisive and more intense turn.

If you study the independence struggle, we would realise that there used to be large gaps between each agitation of Gandhiji. Sometimes 6 years, sometimes 8 and between the agitation in 1930 and the Quit India movement of 1942 - the gap was 12 years. And our movement had 3 agitations in less than a year. Between these agitations, there used to be lots of organizational structuring works as well as constructive activities like social and cultural transformations. So, there is a need to create a strong organization right down to villages and mohallas. Thus,we need to slow down and regroup.

The first phase of the movement is now over. The supporters and volunteers in this phase came on their own, without any organization or structure. The mood of the nation against corruption was built for the past five years, by Baba Ramdev's constant reminders every day, by a proactive judiciary led by Sarosh Kapadia, vibrant, incessant and loud reporting by the media and of course, the in-your-face corruption by CWG, 2G and the Raja and Kalmadi gang. In this mood, once  IAC came with a solution "Jan Lokpal", the nation erupted in an unprecendent anti-corruption movement.

For the second phase, now we need to create
1. An organizational nation- wide structure. Surely not a heirarchical structure with posts, positions and perks, but an identification of the people who have been associated in the movement and who are capable.
2. Two way Communication between IAC decision makers and its supporters.
3. Constructive work for social reforms

The forces that want status quo will try its utmost. But over 90% of India want change. Status quo is not acceptable. India will assert its collective voice again and again, till it becomes not the largest democracy but the best.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

ROMF / Lok Housing Scam

  There is a mail regarding my earlier job, trying to smear and throw muck. While, I recognize every individual's right to do the same, I feel very violated and dirty within. That the mail was sent by someone who knows me, but who did not feel it worthwhile to ask me nor clarify has left a poor taste. But, then once I joined the IAC movement, I should have anticipated that there would be attacks - sometimes from foes and sometimes from friends :). This Diggy Raja kind of muck throwing is like a chinese whisper with the person using innuendos, lies, half truths and twisting facts. What do you defend against? Noone is around, noone is found and one is left sword fighting in the air. He has thrown mud, now one has to keep on defending and clearing off, but the dirty marks on your reputation always remaining.  But, Annaji said "Lathi, Goli khana hai". So, let it come :). Just stating things as I know it.

I was an independent Director in Lok Housing till I resigned in Aug '11 and also the secretary of Remaking of Mumbai Federation (a NGO) where also I resigned in Aug '11, due to my involvement in the IAC cause. 

It was in end of 2006 that my uncle, Lalit Gandhi asked me to join his company Lok Hsg to work on an idea that he had for redevelopment of Mumbai inner areas using the cluster process. He had been moved and inspired when over 4 buildings fell and around 100 people died in this collapse. Overall there has been over 700 deaths due to the collapse of some of these thousands of buildings, which were very old. Also, redevelopment of individual buildings was a bad idea, because it led to tremendous strain on infrastructure and only encouraged few feasible buildings' redevelopment. At the time of getting this offer of a job, I was working in the social sector and was involved with many NGOs for betterment of life at the policy level. I looked on this offer to propagate cluster development as the only solution to save Mumbai and as an opportunity to do good work at the grass root level and change the lives of lakhs of people.

So, an NGO called Remaking of Mumbai Federation (RoMF) was formed, and i became its hon secretary. Its purpose was to propagate the concept of holistic planning of Mumbai. We suggested that inner city of Mumbai be planned in an integrated and holistic manner by a public private corporation called City Planning and Monitoring Company (CPMC). With the help of master planners, the city should be divided into various clusters and Sector-by-Sector Development Scheme (SSDS) should be created by auctioning each sector and CPMC should plan and monitor the implementation of the same. Many eminent people and groups joined the federation and later some left due to variety of reasons. We used the process of advocacy with the urban development and Municipal corporation for holistic and integrated urban development. This led the UD to suggest to us to take up one sector and show us the efficacy of the model that we were suggesting. RoMF used mass awareness and debates, as well as presentations with various stakeholders, to partially convince them of the proposal. As a result of this, the government came out with its Housing Policy which talks about the cluster development concept and also DCR 33(9) for cluster development. This NGO was funded by Lok Housing as its Chairman Lalit Gandhi was a passionate proponent of good, international development of Mumbai. He used to say "Mumbai at the crossroads - disaster or a world class city?

To show the efficacy of the development model, we had to demonstrate a sustainable commercial model. Thus, a commercial company, Remaking of Mumbai Housing Infrastructure and Finance Ltd (ROMHIF) was formed. It worked with the tenants and all stakeholders to get their consents for redevelopment by ROMHIF in 30 acres properties in Chira Bazar. This was in end of 2008. The DCR 33(9) was not yet passed but was being discussed. In absence of a proper format, ROMHIF took the consents of the tenants on plain paper. After the DCR was passed, ROMHIF approached the High Power Committee (HPC) for a Letter of Intent (LOI) to redevelop this 30 acres. This was not accepted as the HPC said that the consents was not in the correct format. ROMHIF argued that there was no format then, nor was there one now. While the HPC appreciated our work and concept, it did not issue a LOI. 

ROMHIF needed to purchase buildings and re-present a case for redevelopment and therefore it made a Joint Venture development agreement with Unity Developers to redevelop the area. ROMHIF asked for a certain amount as premium for the works that it had done from Unity, including the plain paper consents. While earlier Unity was interested in 30 acres redevelopment, it changed its view to redevelopment of 5 acres only. This was a legitimate business deal, for ROMHIF to charge for intellectual or intangible activity.

Along with Unity, ROMHIF again approached the HPC and convinced them that to go back to so many tenants for the consents would be difficult. HPC was requested to issue a provisional LOI, so that within a period of 9 months,  70% consent of the tenants in the right format would be obtained. The HPC found this reasonable and forwarded to the UD. The UD stated that while the consents were in the name of ROMHIF, the new application was in the name of the Joint venture company and asked the HPC to reply on their queries and suggested that ROMHIF be given just 3 months to get the consents in the correct format.

I have read some mails which says that ROMF took the consents and ROMHIF took commercial advantage.  All consents were taken by ROMHIF only. 

I still believe that this was a great project and would have changed the face of Mumbai and saved the lives of many. I also believe that this was legitimate activity, no tenants were misled, no corruption was indulged in, no profits were received, a good housing policy and regulation was introduced. If ever the project sees the light of day, it would be a great day for the city.  I felt sad to leave the Federation, due to my preoccupation with the India against Corruption movement.

I have offered to discuss and explain each and every aspect of the project and its legitimacy to anyone who would like to know the truth.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

The present situation in the movement

Was reading the fifth letter to friends by SILO, one of the greatest thinkers and am recreating some excerpts from the same adapting to the present status of our movement

Their banners were waving as the echoes of their glorious calls to struggle rolled across the scene. And upon seeing this I thought of just how much good will, risk, tragedy, and striving, all moved by heartfelt convictions, had been lost along a road leading to the absurd negation of any possibilities of transformation.

Thus, today it is imperative to redeem human courage, inspiring people’s ideals in a new and possible direction.

1. The Most Important Issue: To Know If One Wants to Live, and in What Conditions

Today, millions of people struggle simply to subsist, not knowing whether tomorrow they will be able to surmount hunger, disease, and neglect. Their needs are so dire that whatever they undertake to escape their problems only further complicates their lives. Are they to do nothing then, and remain in a state that is really only one of postponed suicide? Are they to attempt desperate measures? What sort of activity, what risk, what prospect are they prepared to face? What are those, who for economic, societal, or simply personal reasons find themselves in extreme situations, supposed to do? Always, the most important question is to know if one wants to live, and to decide in what conditions to do so.

2. Human Liberty: Source of All Meaning

Today questioning whether their present circumstances can form a way of life in the future. Even those who prefer not to think about their situation, or who turn this responsibility over to others, are still choosing a way of life.

3. Intention: Orientor of Action

We are born into conditions that we have not chosen. We will have to choose among conditions, among needs, and we will do so according to our intention and the vision of life that we propose for ourselves.

4. What Should We Do with Our Lives?

We exist in a particular society and in relationship with other people, and our destinies are interwoven with their destinies. If we believe that at present everything is fine,then we need only forge ahead. If, on the contrary, we think that we live in a violent, unjust society that is filled with inequity and assailed by unremitting crises related to the dizzying changes in the world, then we will reflect at once on the need for profound personal and social transformations.

And the worst of it is that by our inaction we open the door to even greater inequity and injustice. Forms of discrimination and abuse long thought overcome are resurfacing with greater virulence than ever. The option they are following with increasing single-mindedness is to focus only on their own lives, ignoring the difficulties of others and everything that is taking place in the social context around them.

We prefer to focus on the superficial game of the powerful elites, the famous, the formers of opinion. We object to the actions of the mass media controlled by economic interests, instead of dedicating ourselves to exercising influence in the smaller media and taking advantage of the many openings for social communication.

Basically, all of this happens to us because we believe we are defeated and that we have no other recourse than to nurse our growing bitterness in silence. And we call this defeat "dedicating ourselves to our own lives." Meanwhile, "our own lives" accumulate contradictions as we lose touch with the meaning of and any capacity to choose the conditions in which we want to live. And of course our previous disappointments keep us from acting as protagonists in this process of transformation.

5. Moral Consciousness and Short-Term Interests

In our rush to escape we will sacrifice every value and all meaning, because our sole focus has become our own immediate benefit.
To avoid such difficulties, we shun any commitment that could draw us toward extreme situations, but of course events themselves will necessarily put us in positions that we have not chosen. The choice between unifying actions – those with meaning – or contradictory actions dictated by immediacy, is inescapable in every situation in which the direction of life is at issue.

6. Sacrificing One’s Objectives for Circumstantial Success: Some Habitual Errors

Ridiculous Machiavellian schemes, personality clashes placed above mutually agreed upon goals, and authoritarian behavior of every stripe fill volumes of history books, as well as our personal memories.

7. The Kingdom of the Secondary

Present circumstances are such that accusers of every stripe and description adopt a prosecutorial tone and demand explanations from us, acting as though it is we who must prove our innocence to them. What is noteworthy is that their basic tactic lies in exalting all that is secondary, and as a consequence obscuring the primary questions.

Some journalist or opinion maker will make everything somehow suspicious, or demanding that we "take a stand" on today’s many burning questions of all sorts. Of course, they are never lacking for some clumsy accusation, to which it is assumed we must respond, and in superficially setting the context they bandy about words charged with double meanings as they manipulate contradictory images.

What is important to remember is that those who choose to locate themselves in a faction opposed to us have every right to have us explain to them why they are in no condition to judge us and why we, on the other hand, are fully justified in judging them. They need to realize that it is they who must defend their position against our objections

A great many progressive people are taken in by this trap, failing to understand very clearly just how their receiving this abundance of apparent "news" in practice leaves them more bewildered than accurately informed.
While the previous commentaries on these expressions of the kingdom of the secondary do not really contribute anything new, it is nonetheless worthwhile from time to time to alert those naive activists who, in trying to communicate their ideas, have yet to realize just how strange is this kingdom of the secondary in which they have been interned."