Call him what you will, like him or hate him, agree with him or disagree with him, there is no denying U.R. Anantha Murthy‘s zeal as a tireless public intellectual.
While the political parties count their electoral chickens even before they are hatched, and while most of us helplessly watch the nanga naach of money and muscle, the 76-year-old Jnanpith Award winning Kannada writer has rightly swung the limelight on what the parties should do to secure our votes—and what they should deliver once they come to power.
Anantha Murthy has come up with an 11-point “People’s Manifesto” for the 2008 Assembly elections, and invites readers to add their own suggestions to it, to modify, change and alter his own.
The salient points he makes are (loosely translated):
1) There should be a ban on mining which has corrupted all our political parties.
2) Children should have access to high-quality common schools at least till the 10th standard. There should be no discrimination among children and they should have a common experience of childhood.
3) The future growth of our cities should keep in mind the requirements of elders, children and the disabled. Every locality should have parks and libraries. There should be bicycle paths and easy means to cross roads.
4) Poor minorities with self-esteem should be given access to education to help them obtain jobs in the public sector. There should be reservation for them.
5) The reservation privilege should be taken away from those who have already enjoyed the benefits of reservation, and given to those who haven’t obtained its benefit.
6) There should be restrictions on the media and and candidates who seek to exploit the elections by creating enemity on the basis of caste, community, religion and language.
7) The acquisition of agricultural land for the setting up of special economic zones should be stopped.
8) Farmers should get the right price for the produce they grow.
9) Instead of encouraging the setting up of giant chain-malls, small local shops should be patronised.
10) Instead of American style development which endangers the environment, we should go in for sustainable development which benefits the greater common good.
Also read: The U.R. Anantha Murthy interview
Acknowledgement: Mahamed Ismail