Interview with

Tejasvi
Surya

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.

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