Interview with Shri Ravneet Singh Bittu, M.P. & President, Punjab Youth Congress
January 01, 2010, IST 0010
Amandeep Singh/Gary Sing from LA
Question no.1) What did the year 2010 mean to you?
Answer- The year 2010 was full of struggle for me and the members of the Punjab Youth Congress. The year saw us on the streets of Punjab taking up the social issues plaguing Punjab, issues such as the menace of drug addiction among the youth of Punjab, highly prevalent female foeticide, Environmental issues etc. This year we also raised our voice against the anti people policies of the State Government, corruption in various departments, lack of electricity resulting in de-industrialization of the state, lack of interest on the part of the State Government in the implementation of the Central Government sponsored welfare schemes, mismanagement of the State finances by the ruling SAD-BJP Government in the state, were also highlighted before the people.
Question no.2) Could you please tell us more about your just concluded Nav Inquilab Pad Yatra? Did you succeed in your mission?
Answer- Under the directions of Shri Rahul Gandhi Ji, in an effort to usher in simplicity in our working, in view of the fact that the leaders using their SUV’s and Choppers are increasingly getting away from the masses and so as to know the problems being faced by the people (AAM AADMI), in the countryside, the Punjab Youth Congress undertook mass contact programme by organizing a 45 day Nav Inquilab Pad Yatra, on the issue of “Jawani te Kisani nu Bachaiye, nawan Punjab Banaiye”, crisscrossing all the districts, all 13 Parliamentary constituencies and around 72 assembly segments, thereby covering more than1200 Km’s on foot.
With the yatra, we intended to bring in awareness among the youth in particular and the people of Punjab in general, regarding the present Socio-Economic problems staring the face of Punjab and for bringing in requisite changes/ corrections in the system by mobilizing the youth for the same.
We were successful in our endeavour in bridging the gap and in connecting directly with the people, in mobilizing the youth by bringing in awareness among them regarding the worsening socio-politico situation in the State, rampant female foeticide, a blot on the face of Punjab, increasing menace of drug addiction among the youth. It is pertinent to mention here that 70% of the youth are addicted to one or the other drug in Punjab.
Question no.3) What were your experiences during the yatra? Kindly tell us specific instances of meeting people, conversations, etc.
Answer- On Diwali night, I felt sad in village Channo, district Patiala, when I saw feeling of helplessness of the face of women who could not purchase mustard oil to light up their homes, on the other hand I found their men intoxicated with drinks. Same evening I saw frustration on the faces of farmers sitting atop the piled up grains, in nearby local Anaj Mandi, hoping to sell their produce, in the face of Government apathy. I also can not forget signs of distress on their faces.
I met old and infirm, men and women in villages, complaining that they have not received pensions for months together, rendering them dependent on their children, who often ill treat them.
I have found that false and politically motivated cases, in thousands, have been registered, against congressmen, in all districts at the behest of the ruling party Jathedars/office-bearers.
Question no.4) What did you discover about Punjab from the yatra?
Answer- There is a general perception that Punjab is the richest State in India, but I have found that the poverty in Punjab is deep rooted and wide spread, which is clearly visible when we go to the heart of Punjab, its interior areas.
Question no.5) Considering that the system has not delivered in Punjab, does you see an alternative or modified form of governance in Punjab?
Answer- Definatly the present sysem has not delivered and have not lived up to the expectations of the people. I personally feel that until and unless we all, with this I mean Legislature, Executive, Judiciary and Media, all pillars of democracy, become sensitive to the needs and aspirations of the people, nothing much can be expected in immediate future.
Question no.6) How did the Nav Inquilab Pad Yatra change you and your organisation?
Answer- The Yatra has definetly sensitized me and the members of Punjab Youth Congress about the expectations of the people from the leadership. What is worrying me is we have found majority of people are fed up with present system and are silent. Their silence is something which is bothering me now.
Question no.7) What are your future plans for Punjab?
Answer- Punjab, as of now is in dire straits, is virtually bankrupt. Due to the mismanagement of funds and administrative inefficiencies, infructurous, destructive and conservative policies, of the State Government, the State have been pushed under the debt of Rs.72,000 Crore. Today the situation is the State is borrowing to pay the interest on debt. The growth of agriculture in the State have remained stagnant in last couple of decades. The State is seeing virtual de-industrialization, with the industry opting from Baddi, in neighbouring Himachal Pradesh, in view of the huge tax incentives being offered to the industry there and lack of policy on the part of State Government in last four years, to attract investment, have resulted in increased unemployment, thus pushing the youths towards drugs. The future of Punjab, as of now seems bleak, it is the need of the hour that the State is urgently bailed out of its present mess. We, the members of Punjab Youth Congress are determined to affect course correction.
Question no.8) Could you please explain the next stage of the New Revolution?
Answer- The support that we got from the masses is tremendous. The Punjab Youth Congress would continue to work in the direction of bringing in awareness among the people. We will surely work for the realization of the dreams of the people. We will definetly come up with the next phase of Nav Inquilab, based upon the feedback we receive from the masses, so as to put pressure on the State Government to perform.
Question no.9) How are your attempts different from earlier attempts at improving the state of Punjab?
Answer- We are raising the issues which are connected directly with the day to day lives of the people and we are taking them along, this is how our movement is different from others, who took up Religious and Caste based issues, which eventually fell flat with people loosing interest in the face of daily economic hardships faced by them.
Question no.10) One positive change you'd like to see in India in 2011?
Answer- In India, particularly in the state of Punjab, many youngsters lose their lives in road accidents, as a youth I feel pained when precious lives are lost and dreams and hopes of their parents are shattered. I wish more and more Traffic Awareness and Road Safety Camps are organized to bring in awareness among the people about the need for road safety, so as to save precious lives and the real wealth of India, the youth. This year I wish the Punjab Government takes stringent steps to curb the sale of liquor on road sides, one of the major reasons for the accidents.
Question no.11) A change you would like to bring about in the world you live in?
Answer- Today, the fast changing climatic conditions, with increasing air pollution, polluted underground water, damaged soil and decreasing soil fertility force me to think that the day is not far when the planet will not remain fit for our children. I wish to reverse the damage done to the earth by taking concrete steps, by taking the support of like-minded people and organizations.
Question no.12) Any comments on Jago Punjab Yatra going on in Punjab and the issues that they are taking up before the people?
Answer- Its good that they are also approaching people, thereby fulfilling one of the promises made by me to the people during the yatra, that the Nav Inquilab Pad Yatra will at least ensure increased say of the people, which is visible today.
The present SAD-BJP government in the State have failed on all fronts. It would have really helped Punjab, had Mr. Manpreet Singh Badal, who held the Finance Ministry, before coming out of the Government cited the reasons for its failures and should have come out with the misdeeds of present regime, but for the reasons better know to them they have opted for the social issues. May be they do not want to burn the bridges with their parent party. One thing is certain, those who could not perform in power, will surely find it difficult to perform out of power.
Question no.13) Your New Year's resolution?
Answer- With the Grace of God and support of the people, I will try my best to come up to their expectations. Coming year, I wish to remain more and more close to the people, the people who reposed faith in me, with whose blessings I am what I was not.