“Do you think my re-election has anything to do with academic qualifications? It has everything to do with my work,” says Makwana, reeling off his daily schedule. “I am up at four in the morning and if there have been complaints relating to water supply or something that affects individual or community life in my ward, I am on the spot. Despite my early morning rounds, I am in my ward office by 9 am, where I remain up to 1 pm, when I break for lunch to be back by four and stay put till eight. All the while attending to people’s problems,” he adds.
Another BJP corporator, from Gandhigram, Babubhai Ahir, says, “Mine is work on the ground, not pushing files.” Both of Babubhai’s sons have passed their higher secondary examinations, are married and are well-settled. “Not once in my life have I felt the absence of a degree. My work in public life speaks much more than degrees,” says the three-time office-holder. It is the will to be of service to people that matters, he adds.
Half a century ago, reminisces Babubhai, times were trying. Families were large and economic conditions bad, so no sooner were you of school-going age than you were required to help out in the fields. “Every additional hand in the farm helped save money, so after learning the basics of arithmetic and reading and writing in one’s native language we started to help in the farm. I was no exception,” he adds.
By R.K. Misra in Gandhinagar