Tuesday, 1 April 2014

A visit to the Aam Aadmi Party's office

I have always been a passive and reluctant onlooker in most scenarios, seldom willing to inconvenience myself, especially if I didn't see any material benefit arising from taking any initiative or maybe in some cases I was afraid of he perception that others may develop of me. This thought process has evolved over the last few years thanks mostly to the principles I have learnt at ThoughtWorks, and in this particular case my influencer has been Navendu Shirali (my batchmate from Goa Institute of Management).
For the last 3 odd years I watched the Anna movement and Aam Aadmi Party from the sidelines hoping to be part of these movements but reluctant to get down to brass tacks. Most of my support or involvement was by the easiest way possible i.e. sharing statuses on social platforms and making some insignificant donations. However, after a lot of introspection I finally took the initiative and walked into their Pandav Nagar office to sign up and help them in any way I can.

What I experienced?

The office is in a nondescript location probably on rent or loan from a volunteer. As you walk to the first floor the first thing that you will notice is that the stairwell has clear signs requesting visitors/residents not to spit on the corners put up by the party.
The office itself is bustling with energy and volunteers were either getting logistics ready for a house to house visit, huddled in a cubicle to plan the next Jansabha or roadshow, or coordinating booth management activities for the D-day.
The walls were lined with chart papers and white boards consisting of information on work assignments, allocations and action items, the energy in the room was palpable and made me feel as if I was missing out on something and I need to be a part of this ....right now! The crowd was mixed (in terms of age) and consisted mostly of educated middle class folks like myself. The interactions among the group seemed very professional and cordial, very similar to the environment that you and me experience in our corporate lives.

What I signed up for?

I met Mr. Gyankumar Pandey (a mild mannered and cordial individual) who asked me some basic information about my work and constituency and then briefly explained the tasks where I could help with in the coming days. So I volunteered to help over the coming weekend and on the day of voting in Delhi. I also expressed my interest in helping AAP with putting in place practices which help in continuous learning and improvement and help building a strong and long lasting organizational culture. This brought Shalini into the picture, she drives the organizational development initiative at AAP and informed me that the party did hold a lessons learnt exercise across its offices in Delhi after the assembly polls, and would be looking to do the same post the Lok Sabha election. She looked forward to my involvement during that time and listed my contact details in a Google spreadsheet.

In conclusion:

I came out of the office even more reassured and pumped then when I entered it. 
I generally hear a lot of people say that AAP should do this or Arvind Kejriwal should have (not) done that or that they believed in the movement at the start but no longer believe in it..... All I have to say is that history gives us a few opportunities to make things right and when that time comes, don't be like me, the person who sat in a corner reluctant and afraid just happy taking the easy way out. Stand up, get involved, take the initiative and work towards making that change as AAP has done and BE THE CHANGE YOU WANT TO SEE.

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