The Honest Politician
We live in a period of history that is at a previously unparalleled stage of socio-political complexity. Never before in human history have we been so engrossed in national and international politics, particularly in India. As we have observed time and again, Indian politics are rife with corruption, scandal and a blatant disregard for both democracy and transparency, the world needs more righteous political activists to fight for the people. Mayank Gandhi, a relatively unappreciated figure in politics, embodies the need of the Indian people to adopt an activism of anti-corruption. Furthermore, he has performed multiple socially beneficial initiatives to help the underprivileged of our country
Mayank Gandhi was born to a middle class family in Mumbai. He taught tuitions to pay for his diploma, and started his career as an urban planner. He was part of the team that worked for preparing a law and process to remake Mumbai using cluster development model. The Chicago-based Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, the largest not-for-profit body of planners and architects in the world appointed him as part of their advisory council.
He got involved in activism since 2003 and was part of the drafting of the Maharashtra right To Information along with Anna Hazare and was instrumental in other major structural reforms in the country. In 2011, he joined the team that launched the India against Corruption movement and was a core committee member in this movement. When the movement morphed into the (Aam Aadmi Party), he was part of the National Executive. He was instrumental in the landslide victory of the party in 2013 and 2015 Delhi Assembly election.
He would go on to write the book ‘AAP and Down’ which details the timeline of the Aam Aadmi Party and his own anti-corruption struggle. Rather impressively, Mayank Gandhi looked at the entire movement and its history with a detachment rare for someone who was part of it all — from the euphoric highs to the lows of backroom cloak-and-dagger politics. It is not easy to be objective — not just in accepting one’s mistakes — but also in looking at those of others' in an unbiased manner (or with ‘nirlep bhav’ as Gandhi would put it).
The 2016 drought of Marathawada and the multiple suicides by farmers led to Mayank starting a rural transformation mission called Global Parli. He selected a cluster of 15 villages in drought-prone Parli tehsil in Beed district of Maharashtra and started working on 360°developments including water management, economic growth, education, health, social reform, community building etc. The goal of his mission is to create multiple models of rural transformation that could be replicated across the country for a better India.
The former years have achieved unprecedented success in transforming the mindset of the people and changing the quality of their lives. Some of the works undertaken include ‘Rejuvenation of Paapnashi River & its Tributaries’, improving infrastructure and providing e-learning platforms, computers, sports equipment in the schools, organising regular health camps for villagers, abolishment of liquor campaign and encouraging farmers to adopt to new methods of farming. The project is poised to increase the income of the farmers by a factor of ten.
Global Parli was awarded with "Best Social Enterprise" at the India Leadership Conclave 2016 for providing water during the drought. The Organisation was also awarded with "Innovations in Water Rejuvenation" and with the title "Best NGO" in 2017 at the Pharma Leadership Awards.
This organisation has also made strides for women empowerment. Most women in the villages do stitching work for their household requirements and few have also grown to sell products outside their houses. GP (Global Parli) decided to make use of this skill that the women already possess to start making them financially independent and empower them. They received their first order and the women excelled. Soon, they started accepting big orders and the biggest challenge yet was the order from UPL, one of the top agro-chemical companies in the world.
They set-up standard procedures to be followed by the over 100 women who would be working on the project. They held extensive training sessions with these women to ensure quality products. There was a strict deadline for the project, despite which the women completed their order in time along with managing their fields and houses. They even worked whole of the Dussehra night.
Mayank Gandhi has been a fierce proponent of decentralization of power and had earlier worked on laws and experiments for the same. He has now created an app called VIA 70 for the ward no 70 of Mumbai Municipal Corporation where the citizens can download the same and get complete information on the budget of their area, rate the municipal works and make complaints among other tasks. This is a replicable model that will be scaled up in different urban areas of the country. Once again, he has attempted to empower the Indian people in a hierarchical and unfair society filled with misinformation.
Clearly, Global Parli and the anti-corruption movements display the various and important ways in which Gandhi has positively benefitted society. An activist wedded to the idea of a better India, a statesman and deeply committed persona Mayank Gandhi is a rare combination of a man who thinks on his feet while feeling with his heart. No stranger to the needs of the country, he has been associated with working towards the upliftment of the under privileged and the growth of the country in projects that befit a humanitarian. He is truly one of India’s unsung heroes!