It’s 2016, and during the monsoon season of June, July, August -Vijayapura witnessed an unprecedented increase in dengue cases. The city was experiencing an epidemic. Being the President of Indian Medical Association, Vijayapura, I felt rescue work on a war footing had to be taken to reduce the cases. I wrote to the District Collector, Commissioner of Corporation and District Health Officer with a road plan to root out the problem. There was no response from any of the said people. I thought I could call out for help from my medical association for a campaign; it did not take off and so was left with no other alternative, but to fighting it alone.
When all other options met a road block, I sat on Hunger Strike on August 12, 2016 demanding basic cleanliness in the city and quick action to reduce the number of deaths occurring due to Dengue. The politics of the power centres in the district was an eye opener. From Municipal administration to ZillaParishad to contractors in civic works, everyone had a laid back attitude and politics played behind the public eye across party lines which taught me valuable lessons.
We came across many hurdles and this increased my determination for the cause. I was warned to manage my own business and not to meddle in the affairs of public administration. Permission for fast was refused, pandal where the agitation was taking place was dismantled and campaign hoarding removed. I was given a stern warning by the Corporation Commissioner himself. This made me stronger and I stood my ground. Help poured in from other organisations and citizen groups. The swelling crowd attracted the local media which took note of the agitation and published it in papers. The situation was turning into a JantarMantarlike agitation and this forced the administration to take note. Some amount of success was achieved in the campaign, but there was a lot to do.
The campaign forced the in-charge administration to call an emergency meeting under the agenda – “Cleanliness of Vijayapura”, something that had happened for the first time in the history of the district. The Mayor and the deputy Mayor came to the venue and promised necessary actions will be taken for a clean and dengue free Vijayapura.
Brisk action was taken. Many foggers were deployed to fog many areas in the city. Waste collection sped and cleanliness drive was initiated. Students from various schools participated in an awareness campaign and Vijayapura saw for the first time a cleanliness drive that had never happened before.
This campaign made me realize the fact that Nation building cannot happen unless the educated and interested citizens take part in electoral politics. I realized that in democracy, if any change has to happen in a large scale within a short period of time, we need proper flag bearers at the top of political leadership.
This campaign led me to enter into active politics.
It was the year 1993, and I was interning at Belagvi, my last year of graduation. During this time, Lathur and Killari districts of Maharashtra saw the worst of earthquake and many villages were reduced to dust. There was large scale destruction to life and property. There was an outcry for help which moved many to help the affected people.
Along with 14 of my friends and a borrowed jeep from a contact, we left to Lathur and met the District Health Officer and enrolled our services. Our main work was to supply medicines to the various camps set up at 22 villages on an everyday basis. We put in 15 days of hard labour and actually saw the working of disaster management. Though our work was a very small effort in the total rescue and mitigation effort, the District Health Officer of Lathur appreciated our efforts and awarded us with certificates. This was the stepping stone for my future social service activities.