Tejasvi is one amongst the youngest and popular parliamentarians of India. An immensely popular orator, he is a lawyer by profession. Tejasvi has grown up ranks from being a party volunteer to a young national leader. He is a proactive communicator, and engages through TV discussions and social media with his constituents.
What is your inspiration to join politics? Can you share some important milestones in your political journey?
My upbringing, I would say, opened up my eyes to the idea of patriotism. My parents encouraged me to read about the lives of great freedom fighters like Veer Savarkar, Bhagat Singh and others, and that inspired me tremendously. When I was 9 years old, many soldiers guarding our borders were martyred in the Kargil War and that deeply affected me.
I wanted to do something to help them. With that thought in mind, I sold some sketches and paintings I had made and raised about Rs 2,000. I donated the money to the families of the wounded soldiers and hoped that it helped. I also attended Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) Shakhas in Bengaluru. The patriotism and values of Hindutva that these sessions instilled in me fuelled my dream of working for the development of the country. I slowly worked towards that dream.
I founded an organisation called Arise India with my close friends when I was studying in college. One of the initiatives we worked on was to provide better access to education for the children of construction labourers. I then became part of the ABVP and BJYM, progressing through the ranks. I was offered a chance to serve the people of Bengaluru South in the 2019 Lok Sabha Elections. I am grateful that Bengaluru South’s voters elected me in a record margin of over 3.3 lakh votes. I will do my best to live up to that responsibility.
How does it feel to be a young Parliamentarian? What is new about Tejasvi now?
It is a challenge but I am always ready to take on challenges. I am quite fortunate to receive guidance of the ministers in the government and the senior BJP leaders in the Parliament. All of them are receptive to new ideas from a youngster and are just supportive. I would say my responsibilities have increased now since becoming an MP. On my first visit to Parliament, even before I took oath as an MP, the first thing that I did was bow down and offer my respect to the Temple of Democracy in the country. It was a reminder of the huge responsibility that the people have gifted me and how I did not want to let them down.
You have taken up a unique initiative like increasing the pass percentage of matriculation students. What do you think is the lacking in the system? What are the reforms?
Bengaluru South boasts of the most prestigious educational institutions and has the highest concentration of PhD holders for any city. But its performance in SSLC examinations is shocking as it has the highest number of failures during the 2018-19 SSLC exams at 15,753. Bengaluru South also has the highest number of students who have scored single-digit marks in all the 6 subjects of the 2018-19 SSLC examinations. When we analysed the poor performance of Bengaluru South along with the Department of Public Instruction, we found out that: 1. Weak foundation of students – many Class 10 students fail to do basic math 2. Shortage of teachers – Many vacancies have to be filled up in aided schools 3. Student absenteeism – 2,224 students from Bangalore South schools failed to turn up for their exams, the highest in the state. 4. Uneven distribution of the 5 educational blocks within Bengaluru South are the reasons for the poor performance. Through the Bengaluru south Education and Social Transformation (BEST) programme, we are addressing this challenge. We have about 3,000 volunteers and various teachers who are taking special classes to the children of about 305 identified schools. Even the existing teachers are being provided motivational sessions to hopefully help the students in the schools. The citizens of Bengaluru are coming together to help transform the lives of children facing the SSLC examinations. The draft National Education Policy of the Ministry of Human Resource Development suggests a number of reforms which are much-needed for the country. Providing more autonomy to higher education institutions, using regional languages as the mediums of instruction in primary education, opting for a more research and experimental approach to education etc are some of the reforms that the NEP promises.
What is your vision for Bengaluru South? What are the major challenges facing your Constituency and what are the solutions that you propose?
One of the main challenges that I hope to address as an MP is the Urban Mobility Crisis in Bengaluru. I have conducted various discussions with IISc scientists and stakeholders, including startups, to look for a solution to Bengaluru’s traffic mess. I feel Bengaluru needs a seamless multi-modal public transport system that is reliable, accessible and affordable to incentivize citizens to adopt mass transport instead of private transport. I also feel Bengaluru needs a governance reboot. Bengaluru’s governance model, based on the Karnataka Municipal Corporation Act 1976 is archaic, unscientific and stunts rapid growth. There’s no unified, accountable leadership and almost nil coordination between parastatals. The existing one-year term for the Mayor has to be done away with. I feel that the Mayor should at least get a term of 3 to 5 years to hold him/her responsible and accountable. Bengaluru needs an exclusive legislation, the Nava Bengaluru Act, to replace the KMC Act 1976. I have written to the Honourable Chief Minister of Karnataka to draft and pass this exclusive legislation.
What is your message for youngsters/youth?
Follow your passion, work with the utmost dedication to achieve that goal of yours. If your singular focus is to accomplish that dream of yours, a mountain of obstacles will not be able to move you.