My Experience of the Good Governance Yatra 2017
– Supriya Patil, Development Associate, Vision India Foundation
Learning about Governance has two crucial aspects, studying in the classrooms and the other is visiting the best practices and learning from various stakeholders. This December I had an opportunity to become a yatri of a unique travel program offered by Vision India Foundation, to visit and learn from the best good governance practices. It was a great learning experience to be a facilitator and yatri at the same time. Before the yatra my perception of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar was of ‘backward states’, I had never imagined that these states would have some best practices that are worthy of replication.
Interaction with Yatris: Spending nine days with 60 young and enthusiastic minds coming from 18 different states and diverse backgrounds, passionate to work for the country through different fields of the governance, was awesome. Interacting with them, having discussions, knowing their views about Indian culture, was a significant addition to my knowledge. I had an opportunity to lead few discussions and activities based on governance topics, which actually made me realise how important the role of a facilitator is. Having worked for integrated village development in Palghar, interaction with yatris who are involved in the Grassroots development, e.g., one was working for tribal people in Madhya Pradesh, another was involved in the rural development project in the interiors of Maharashtra, was very enriching.
Being a facilitator: This was the first time I was working with the VIF team very closely to facilitate a program. I witnessed closely how VIF team was always on toes to ensure quality of the program by responding quickly to real time issues, ensuring discipline and timeliness during the visits and taking continuous feedbacks to start and end meetings on time. There were five of us from the VIF team who travelled throughout the program along with yatris, in addition to location specific facilitators from the VIF alumni base, each of whom helped arrange and coordinate logistics and meetings, in each of their cities such as Lucknow, Benaras, Patna. This was possible due to use of technology, good planning and of course, team work.
The Yatra: The Yatra started from Delhi, where the former President. Sh. Pranab Mukherjee flagged off the Yatra from his residence. His thoughts on the historical importance of the cities that we were visiting, helped give perspective to the projects that were to follow. The level of participation of yatris in the activities, despite the chilling winter was really commendable. We visited operations unit of Delhi’s world-class Metro service and interacted with a municipal school’s team and students, the next day. This school was a good example of how a Government run school can function better. Soon after, we got to interact with the doctor of Mohalla clinic, an innovative model of public healthcare.
We moved to Vrindavan the next day to visit ISKON’s Akshay Patra – a huge kitchen, which provides fresh and hygienic mid-day meal to 16 lakh children, on daily basis. It’s a good example of the Government collaborating with a people’s for good governance. Mass production without compromising on the quality of food, is the best part about this project. In Lucknow, we met Swatantra Dev Singh, Minister of State, Govt. of Uttar Pradesh, then interacted with Sunil Bansal, Organizational Secretary, BJP, Uttar Pradesh to understand the election campaign strategy and ground work that goes behind the elections. Subsequently, we had a long session with the High court judge who briefly touched upon aspects of the judiciary including hidden challenges, judicial activism, etc., and visited UP100, a police emergency management system. A great example of the government using technology to attain good governance, it involves real time tracking of the complainant and has a 24*7 calling facility to provide immediate police assistance.
The following day, interacting with Atul Garg, Minister for Food, and Pankaj Singh, both elected representatives from Uttar Pradesh, was a really insightful experience. Their view about politics and how youth can be a part of it was very unique. Being in Banaras was a memorable experience for me. I was very curious about Banaras since it’s the prime minister’s constituency itself. I had heard that the huge and historic Ghats on Banaras, despite are very dirty. But they were very clean when we visited them. I had heard lots of things about the grandeur of Indian civilisation, its magnanimity, but for the first time, I could relate to those claims by seeing huge ghats and forts on the banks of Ganga, touching the sky. We also interacted with school kids and Temsutula Imsong, Founder, Saakar, who has been instrumental in cleaning the ghats, along with her team, which is a good example of citizen participation in good governance. Her work was also acknowledged by the Prime Minister himself.
In Patna, we visited the Mahavir Cancer Sansthan, a charitable super-speciality cancer hospital run by a popular city temple and founded by Kishore Kunal – an IPS-turned-social worker. Listening to his experience about running this hospital made me realise how a charity based model in this form is a great service in itself. Meeting and interacting with the cancer affected patients, hearing them talk highly of the services and support at the hospital, was a very unique and different experience for me. With the Yatra having concluded in Dharnai village, after the convocation ceremony, this exposure has added a new perspective in my understanding of ‘good governance’. Our journey was filled with so many insightful interactions, debates on governance and discovery of various aspects of Indian governance – I am sure it would help me in my future endeavors in achieving not just good, but great governance.