In Pic: Sam Pitroda
Ahmedabad: Telecom entrepreneur Sam Pitroda will interact with residents in five cities of poll-bound Gujarat to gather inputs for the Congress's manifesto for the coming Assembly election. The effort is to prepare a "people's manifesto" with focus on education, health, small and medium enterprises, employment generation and environment protection, Pitroda said at a press conference here on Thursday. He will visit Vadodara, Ahmedabad, Rajkot, Jamnagar and Surat in the next five days.
"(Congress vice-president) Rahul Gandhi has sent me a message that he would like me to listen to the people...I spoke to leaders in Gujarat and collectively decided on the programme," said Pitroda, who was an adviser to the Congress vice-president's father and former Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. Pitroda will try to understand the people's problems and demands before making a manifesto which, he said, would include the "voices of people".
"So far across the world, developmental model is top- down. So governments all over the world focus on growth, GDP, plants, ports, roads. This is a western model which has been pushed all over the world. It is time to rethink of development from bottom-up," the entrepreneur said.
"Gujarat can provide a new model of development, not only to Gujarat, India, but all over the world. We are here to listen to people, understand their main points, and make a manifesto which will basically include the voices of people.
It is an open process, a good process, and people should be heard," he said. Sharing his views on democracy, Pitroda said Gujarat, India and the entire world have been at a crossroads. "Democracy has been hijacked by a handful of people, and we have to bring the democracy back to people...," he said.
On the issue of quota, Pitroda said it was important for the underprivileged and those who had not been given a chance in the world, but added that progress was possible even without reservation. "Reservation is important for underprivileged, and for people who have not been given chances. But that does not mean without reservation you cannot progress. What is important is what I will do for Gujarat, and not what government will do for reservation," he said.
"Even without reservation you can get a lot more done," he said. Pitroda also laid emphasis on "collective leadership", and said the main purpose of a leader should be to listen to people and not advise them. Polling for the two-phase Assembly election in the state will take place on December 9 and 14, and votes will be counted on December 18.