Activism

I come from a middle class family, who had started his own small business. The amount of corruption, injustice and indignity that I had to face in my life and the similar state of affair for my countrymen, especially the poor, made me get into activism in 2002. To improve the system, so that the next generation does not have to pass through the same travails . While I was active in opposing the emergency as an activist, I had got disactivated in 1979 - busy in making my two ends meet since 1979. But in 2002, because of some incident in my life, I vowed to spend part of my life in nation building.

Since then, I have worked with various activities like the Right to Information Bill (was with Annaji in his 2003 fast), Nagar Raj Bill (was working with Loksatta and Dr JP), Transfer laws, transparency measures in Govt etc. But, always at the back end. We had an excellent experiment of direct democracy by electing a Citizen Candidate (Adolf D'souza) in Juhu (Feb 2007). But during that time, the infighting and tussle by some of the groups, made me leave activism. Due to my spiritual pursuit, I could not stay in atmosphere of negativism and pettiness.

The 26/11 attack on Mumbai and the spontaneous public response shook me up and I again re-entered activism and formed the Jagrut Nagrik Manch (a platform of over 60 NGOs of Mumbai) to take on some burning issues. Arvind Kejriwal, whom I know for many years, asked me to take on the coordination of Mumbai for IAC on this 22nd Jan. After that, many NGOs, activists, groups and extraordinary individuals came forward and we all crafted a well thought out movement in Mumbai. I have been an active member of India against Corruption since.

Work

My distant uncle was the Chairman of a Public Ltd Construction Co in Mumbai. This company is mostly involved in affordable housing projects and was one of the first to go public, to only take cheque payments and similar. The collapse of 4 old and dilapidated buildings in the Island city of Mumbai and the death of around 100 people during the 26/7/ 2005 torrential rainfall shook him. He thought of a scheme for cluster redevelopment of old and dilapidated building (there are around 30000 such buildings in Mumbai housing 25 lakh people, who are living under the shadow of death).

He approached me and asked me to join him in this noble venture, in Oct '06. It suited my temperament too. We started the Remaking of Mumbai Federation (RoMF -a NGO consisting of over 40 stakeholder associations, NGOs and institutions) for the purpose. Then we were joined by some of the most eminent people in India including Justice PN Bhagwati (ex- CJ of India), Narayan Murthy (Infosys), Girish Gokhale (ex- MC of Mumbai), Padmashree Nana Chudasama, Sri Sri Ravishankarji and many others. The local people were involved in this grass root movement with over 17200 members and various associations of stakeholders involved. Global NGOs also lent support to the cause and we prepared a scheme to create a win-win solution for all stakeholders including the city, including change in the urban policies of Maharashtra for cluster redevelopment. (www.romf.org).

Because this construction company has taken the initiative for this movement, I represent this project of Remaking of Mumbai in the company as an Independent Director. I am not involved in any of the other business and commercial activities of the Company. I strongly believe in the cluster redevelopment model for Mumbai and our NGO's role in redevelopment of Mumbai. Because of my strong personal integrity and value system, I have never been concerned with the criticism that I was working for a builder (its not a banned activity or criminal activity).

Present Position

Due to my position in IAC, there was a lot of pressure on my employers to remove from employment. So, to protect my employers, I have resigned from my job on the 12th of August 2011. Some days back, a MLA wrote to Sonia Gandhi asking that Remaking of Mumbai Federation be discouraged and not given any project. So, now I have resigned from the NGO too, to protect the federation.

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