24 January, 2021

The More They Change

Kejriwal’s original experiment in Sundar Nagri lies in tatters

Jitender Gupta
The More They Change

It was the summer of 2002. An IRS officer on study leave from the Income Tax department would travel daily to the slums of Sundar Nagri, in the north-east district of Delhi, close to the Uttar Pradesh border. Working with friends, he aimed to make the locality a powerful example of people’s empowerment. He was then an unknown; now, everyone knows him as Lokpal activist Arvind Kejriwal.

His group’s pioneering work was quite praiseworthy. They called their initiative Parivartan. It was non-registered—the members decided to call it not an NGO but a jan andolan—and ran on individual donations instead of seeking institutional funding.

In December 2002, the group organised India’s first public hearing on development works in the urban sector. Among the panelists for the hearing were Justice P.B. Sawant, former civil servant Harsh Mander, and activists Arundhati Roy, Aruna Roy and Shekhar Singh. The event proved a game-changer. Over the next few months, the group addressed itself to solving people’s...



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