Nation Politics 02 Dec 2022 Nation is a sum of a ...

Nation is a sum of all neighbourhoods, says AAP candidate in Delhi civic polls

Published Dec 2, 2022, 1:39 pm IST
Updated Dec 2, 2022, 1:39 pm IST
AAP’s 26-year-old candidate Himani Abhishek Jain during her campaign for Delhi civic polls. (By arrangement)
 AAP’s 26-year-old candidate Himani Abhishek Jain during her campaign for Delhi civic polls. (By arrangement)

A nation is the sum of its neighbourhoods. Those in power, in developing countries, are tasked with the duty of erasing the comfort disparity between those neighbourhoods. In a city like New Delhi where nearly each PIN code houses both the rich and the poor, the pressure of levelling living conditions is colossal.

The role of the councillor or the ‘parshad' is as significant as that of the Member of Legislative Assembly (MLA) or ‘vidhayak’. From being responsible for the containment of diseases to ensuring water supply, to managing the drainage systems, conserving parks and heritage and maintenance of roads.

The MCD is also a major road owning agency and the pipe lines passing below the road come under the purviewof the civic bodies. One of the most important features of the civic body is waste-management. It is a body that keeps birth and death records, collects property & professional tax and touches the lives of the citizens more closely than the government. While the Aam Aadmi Party has been in power for 8 years, the Bharatiya Janata Party has been in charge of the municipality for 15 years.

The political opponents have had ugly fights over the years, leaving citizens lost in a maze oftightly woven jurisdictions.

Himani Abhishek Jain holds a B Comm degree from University of Delhi and a subsequent B Ed degree after which she spent her years teaching and engaging in social work with her husband Abhishek. She taught underprivileged children commerce subjects and the differently abled children how to dance. “Teaching is my passion. As I taught, my interest in social work grew because I realised that each student had different needs but the educator was only one.

Neighbourhoods are similar, with so many diverse needs of safety, cleanliness, civic amenities and aesthetic even but the person in the councillor’s post is just one,” said the 26-year-old, who is AAP’s candidate from the VasantVihar ward.

Together with her husband, she founded the Abhishek Janashakti Trust, which set up a 24x7 ambulance service. Her husband Abhishek is also known locally as ‘Delhi’s Pad Man’ for he installed pad vending machines in slums in and around his neighbourhood.

“Until educated and well-meaning people come forward and take charge of their neighbourhoods, things won’t change. For instance, waste segregation requires effective implementation. Delhi can draw on Indore’s model, which ensures 100% household-waste segregation and converted waste to usable products, such as compost and fuel. The city’s management has partnered with non-governmental organisations for an awareness campaign to change the behaviour of its citizens, by using technology to improve municipal capacity,” said Himani, who admits to have started thinking about waste 24x7.

She also wants to plant herbal plants, emulate urban farming models that have done well in cities in Kerala. “For instance, vertical farming without soil is great for crisp and clean lettuces, greens, microgreens, mushrooms, tomatoes, and strawberries. Vertical farming loses less produce to pests and saves water. This can be done in neighbourhoods,” stated Himani. She is also a proponent of decentralised management of the environment. “Carbon emissions can be mapped at the local level and conversion to solar power can be taken up at a competitive pace,” she added.

Another subject that worries her is the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981. “The problem is that one single unit that discharges air pollution, for instance an industrial unit, requires consent to operate under the said act. However, the act doesn't have provisions to deal with leaf or wood burning on the street which is a daily affair. In a scenario where legislation is weak, we need swifter local policies to reduce levels of pollutions we live around.”

The couple lives in Delhi’s upmarket colony Vasant Vihar along with parents, siblings and their dog. “Everyone remembers Nirbhaya’s story which started at our local police station, which is why eliminating dark spots and installing cameras and lights to build a safer and cleaner neighbourhood is something I accept as my duty,” believes Himani.

Going forward, she wishes to contest these elections strictly on issues and has decided to stay away from political rhetoric. Ask her about her opponents in the up and coming MCD elections and she says: “Municipalities are about governance and delivery, turning them into political playgrounds is a disservice to our nation."




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