The Story of Arvind Kejriwal: How a social reformer changed Delhi


Consider that today is January the 19th 2034 & not January the 19th 2014 (about 20 years in future). & now read this blog. You will get the zest of this by the end.

In December 2013, Arvind Kejriwal , an IRS official turned activist, was elected Chief Minister of Delhi, India,  by a landslide. Delhi was reeling from the legacy of Mafia Raj in virtually every Government department and the corruption was rampant across all sections of the society. Crime was rampant—the city held the dubious distinction of being the RAPE capital of India, with over 400 rapes in the 2013 —and the POLICE was notoriously corrupt. Delhi citizens were fed up and Arvind Kejriwal, an “anti-politician” (he was always an activist forced into politics), who had never held any electoral seat, was charged with the seemingly impossible task of creating order amidst chaos.

I know you all know this part of the story even in 2014 but what happened next made it either “The story of Arvind Kejriwal: legend that never was” or “The Story of Arvind Kejriwal: How a social reformer changed Delhi”

Let me give the later part first “The Story of Arvind Kejriwal: How a social reformer Changed Delhi”

Once in office, Chief Minister quickly sprang into action, stationing mime (a person who is good at mimicry) across the city. These mimes had no powers, they didn’t carry guns, nor could they issue challans. They just used a simple method of mimicry and ridicule (one thing that they knew best). Mimes attached themselves to reckless pedestrians, striding behind them and mocking their every move. Reckless drivers were targeted with similar methods. In a matter of months, the fraction of pedestrians & reckless drivers obeying traffic signals reportedly jumped from 26 percent to 75 percent. PROBLEM NO. 1 Solved.


Arvind’s reform agenda started small but soon went well beyond traffic c compliance. He told civilians to offer bribe to officials for favors, set them up, record the event & use recordings as proof of bribe. Message turned viral; civilians started buying all kinds of cameras & started sting operations. Government helpline went berserk with loads and loads and loads of sting recordings. Kejriwal then introduced a cash compensation and legal amnesty scheme for best & successful “Sting operation Civilians”. 5000 officials were suspended in a period of 30 days. Notorious bribe takers had bricks in their pants. Bribery vanished. PROBLEM NO. 2 Solved.

Moral till now: Arvind Kejriwal felt that efforts at attitudinal change were fundamental to all of his reforms, and that transforming civic culture was the key to solving his city’s myriad ills.

I will continue our story in my next blog scheduled for Wednesday, 23rd January 2014.

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