Arvind Kejriwal

by Paul Edwin Hansel from Bengaluru in India

“The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.” Albert Camus

Arvind Kejriwal was born on 16th August 1968 in the small, remote, town of Siwani, in the Bhiwani district of the Indian state Haryana. Kejriwal spent his childhood in Ghaziabad, Uttar Pradesh, Sonipat and Hisar in Haryana, where he studied. In 1985, he took the Indian Institute of Technology - Joint Entrance Exam or IIT-JEE in 1985. He joined Tata steel and was assigned to Jamshedpur for work, as he resigned 3 years later in 1992 to stuidy for the CSE(Civil Services Examination) He then volunteered for the Missionaries of Charity later while in Calcutta, as he met Mother Teresa, also volunteering for the Ramakrishna Mission. 

He later joined the Indian Revenue Services, as an Assistant Commissioner on Income Tax, after he passed the CSE, in 1995, as he founded the Parivartan(Transformation) with Manish Sisodia, and others in Delhi. He subsequently took a sabbatical to focus on the fledgling organization in 2000. However, Parivartan was not a registered NGO, as some donated to the organization, which addressed public grievances,as people hailed it and called it a "jan andolan(people's movement)". The Parivartan, in 2000 filed a Public Interest Litigation(PIL) against the Income Tax department, demanding transparency in public affairs and dealings, and held a satyagraha, a non violent protest. The group also requested visitors of the electricity board not to pay bribes and offered free, transparent work. A year later, the Delhi government enacted the Right to Information law,  which enabled Delhiites to access government records with a small fee, preventing bribery, unlike before, which Parivartan used to aid in their anti corruption endeavor.

The year after, in December 2002, the community audited the financial records with the aid of Parivartan, and found that they were cheated of 7 million rupees in 64 projects, as they held a community hearing that held the leaders accountable for their crimes.

The year after, in 2003, the organization exposed a ration scam, where subsidized foodgrains were being taken for private use, caused by civic officials and ration shop owners. The organization then used the RTI records to access communications between government agencies and the World Bank, exposing a conspiracy to privatize water supplies, preventing the death of the city's poor due to thirst. The group then forced the private schools, which have been buying public land for discount, to admit 700 impoverished kids without fees due to their fraudulent actions.

Subsequently in 2005, the registered NGO Kabir, eponymous of an Indian Philosopher, was founded the group and run by Sisodia, the difference being that Parivartan accepted only individual donations, while that wasn't the case for Kabir, taking donations from other institutions and organizations and also individually.

Along with other activists, such as Anna Hazare, Kejriwal became known as an important contributor to the national RTI law, which eventually passed in 2005. He resigned from his Income Tax Department job in February 2006,  and later that year, he was awarded for his anti-corruption activities, and empowering the poor of Delhi. In December that year, he founded the Public Cause Research Foundation with the money given by the award givers of the prize, again with Sisodia and Abhinandan Sekhri. Other than the three founders, Kiran Bedi and Prashant Bhushan were trustees. This new body paid the Parivartan employees for their actions.

4 years later, as Parivartan slowly lost its efficiency, Kejriwal saw corruption in the 2010 Commonwealth Games,and realized that the Central Vigilance Commision was powerless to stop the ministers, and the Central Bureau of Investiagtion were biased towards the ministers that caused the scam, leading him to demand anti-corruption ombudsman organizations, i.e. the Lokpal(People's protectors) at the Central level and The Lokayukta(People's Court) at the state level. 

Together with Hazare, Bedi, and others, he founded the India against Corruption(IAC) organization in 2011, which resulted in public awareness about corruption, resulting in a series of nationwide movements lobbying for a Jan Lokpal (People's protectorate) bill, with some critics, the most prominent being award-winning writer Arundhati Roy, who called the movements a foreign conspiracy to introduce their vested interests. The government subsequently formed a committee to evaluate the bill, some members being IAC activists, although most committee members were not IAC members.

By January 2012, the government reneged on its promise to create and pass the bill, resulting in a massive wave of protests, somewhat smaller than the 2011 protests, as by mid-2012, Kejriwal became the face of the movement, replacing Hazare. Eventually, due to criticism that activists cannot dictate terms to elected officials, Kejriwal founded the Aam Aadmi Party (Common Man's Party), causing the split of the IAC between Hazare faction and Kejriwal Faction. The Kejriwal faction eventually overtook the Hazare faction. and Contested in the 2013 elections, overtaking the incumbent Congress government. Since then, the AAP has formed a dream of a united opposition and a corruption-free India.

Despite stiff opposition by the Congress and the ruling BJP, and murder attempts, Kejriwal continues to lead India towards a brighter future, replacing the rigid, corrupt, system with a utopian one. He shows that the will to act, and a sense of justice, combined with being highly educated, witty, clever, and informed, is an unstoppable combo which inspired me to produce change around me, one step at a time. He is my hero, who created transparency, peace, and unity in Delhi, and aims to do so for the entire nation

Yours Truly, Paul Edwin Hansel

Page created on 5/9/2023 3:01:58 PM

Last edited 5/10/2023 4:50:35 PM

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