Published: 31st March 2018
Inspired by Anna Hazare, this 24-year-old is changing the 'dirty' game of politics. Here's how
Vijayawada's Naga Sravan Kilaru drives home the point that even the power of a singular voice can overpower tyranny. To prove this, he started an organisation called Vijayawada Needs U
If you ask a common man which is a bigger problem, the municipality refusing to supply water and pick up your garbage or a war between Indian and Pakistan, 24-year-old Naga Sravan Kilaru feels that their answer would be the former. "People should focus more on civic issues and address those instead of merely debating foreign policy. We don't often engage where we can make a difference," says Kilaru, who picked up the Ministry of Youth Affairs and Sports’ National Youth Award, this January.
Kilaru has been a part of The Youth Assembly of the United Nations and currently shuttles between Vijayawada, Bengaluru, Visakhapatnam and Delhi
Kilaru, at the age of 17, saw Anna Hazare go on an indefinite hunger strike to root out corruption from the nation and asked himself, "If a man, who is going to live for another four to five years is so concerned about the nation, how concerned should I, who will live for at least another five to six decades, be?" The spark that this question ignited within the Vijayawada-based activist continues to burn bright even today. And he has done a lot to light similar fires within the hearts of others too.
Everyone thinks politics is dirty, but they don't do anything about it. Someone has to take up the responsibility to clean it
Naga Sravan Kilaru, founder, Vijayawada Needs U
Take, for example, Vijayawada Needs U, an organisation Kilaru started to promote participatory government among the youth. It releases 'report cards' on all the MPs, rating them in terms of their attendance, the number of questions they asked in the Parliament and more. During their first two years, no one cared (Kilaru's words, not ours!), but this year, an MP from Guntur, Jayadev Galla, shared his report card on social media.
Kilaru holds a diploma from CATO Institute, one of the top think tanks in the world. When we ask him about contesting elections, he says, "There will be lots of time for that!"
The organisation even conducts youth parliaments and encourages people to file RTIs, which Kilaru believes is a great tool for all citizens. "Information is everything. If it is passed on to uninformed citizens, we all can question the authority and put some pressure on them," says Kilaru, who is currently planning to file an RTI regarding the 8% cess of the property tax that fails to reach the libraries.
Inspect government facilities like hospitals and schools, write letters to collectors, take a group of friends to the office of local representatives to talk about issues and build pressure — Kilaru advocates all these ways through which we can exercise the ultimate power — ask questions and start conversations, whether it's about the Special Status for AP or the ongoing Aadhaar issue. But does he not fear being branded an anti-nationalist? He laughs as he says, "I agree that there is a lot of difference in ideologies nowadays, but if the voice is loud enough, we can make a difference."
To know more about him, check facebook.com/nagasravan.kilaru