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Minutes of the FTI Fifth Annual Conference,
February 15 and 16, 2014 (Chandigarh)
Venue – Hotel Sun Park, 40.5 milestone Chandigarh-Shimla, NH-22
Initial interaction (February 14 evening) @ Hotel Sun Park
· Members introduced and connected with each other.
· Dr Munish Raizada (ex. FTI, now AAP) came with one of his friend and interacted with the FTI members. He remembered his association with FTI and expressed his gratefulness towards FTI for shaping him what he is today.
15 Feb 2014
· A lady from a PR agency came along with TV crew at 12.30 PM and videographed the ongoing discussion for 5 minutes. Recorded portions included KK Verma, Sureshan, Ram Atri and Balraj Malik.
· Another TV crew came at 2.30 PM with portions from conversations with Ram K Atri, Kamal Sharma and Balraj Malik recorded.
16 Feb 2014
· The annual conference ended with a press conference followed by lunch at Hotel Pallavi at 12.30 PM for all members of the press and conference participants.
· The press conference was attended by approximately 40 journalists from around 20 different channels of print and TV media attended. The press was addressed by Suneeta Dhariwal, KK verma, P sureshan, Balraj Malik, Anil Sharma and Ram K Atri.
· The proceedings came in many newspapers and on TV.
· Various updates regarding Freedom Team of India including the work of Sanjeev Sabhlok and his book Breaking Free From Nehru were discussed.
· QA session was the most attractive part of the press conference. We discussed how we are going to improve India’s governance, make legal system effective and eradicate poverty.
· Journalists were very curious to know about this new outfit and almost most of them felt good that something like this is happening in the country, and that a new hope exists with good policy and well organized leadership. At a time when people are fed up with socialist ideologies of AAP and double talk of Arvind Kejriwal, the liberal ideas of FTI were well appreciated. It was felt that a new hope has been generated by this well organized leadership platform.
· Freedom Team of India got highlighted.
· From media coverage (more on FTI website).
Day 1 (February 15)
1. KK Verma
2. Suneeta Dhariwal
3. Kamal Sharma
4. P Sureshan
5. Ram Atri
6. Pallav Mukherji, Architect-Urban Thinker, Chandigarh
7. Siddhant Singh
8. Ashok Malik
9. Sanjay Seth
10. Balraj Malik
11. Bimad Raj (potential member SB Party)
12. Sanjeev Sabhlok (on telephone from Australia)
Meeting started at 9.30 (Due to late arrival of members)
· Welcome by K.K.Sharma and K.K.Verma
· Housekeeping (emergency exit, washrooms, tea-coffee arrangements and timelines)
· KK Verma introduced the new executive members at FTI. Members were informed that there will be no other committee apart from the executive committee which will take all need-based decisions.
· KK Sharma briefed on the clean-up of the FTI membership drive and that what exists now is more representative of the activities and active energy at FTI.
· On Membership drive – Sanjay Seth talked about limits of voluntarism, need of a secretariat support for an active push for FTI activities and member engagement. More efforts required from existing members.
· Delhi chapter is working well – others are requested to start such meetings.
· The purpose of FTI – being a leadership factory is being realized with Somnath, Munish and Shantanu – though no more at FTI but are examples of the FTI platform’s success. FTI has to prove its mettle with its own outfit SBP in the years to come. It needs to cross serious challenges.
Further discussion on members base, activities and momentum
The active role of pivots Sanjeev Sabhlok, KK Verma, Supratim, Sureshan, Ajay Anand, Vishal Singh, Suneeta Dhariwal, Ram Atri etc. was recognized as the reason behind continuing energy at FTI. It was also raised that personal commitments of members are coming in way of active membership recruitment drive. In absence of fulltime members, with high dependency on volunteer efforts and with no office, no fixed responsibilities can be divided and accountabilities ensured. That is one reason for weak member engagement, new member engagement and a attendance at the National conference.
· New website was up, Forums are not working but Google groups are on.
· Membership fees- decided to continue with the same amount and appeal for payment of dues.
· Siddhant, who is not a graduate yet, but his case can be considered up, he has been asked to apply.
FTI Funds and Fund raising
· Need for resources for office, full time secretarial assistance and various periodic activities. KK Verma’s residence is still operating as office of FTI, SKC and SBP. He needs support.
· Ram Atri contended that we have to ask for it as we have done in the past and were successful with crowd fund sourcing for Shantanu’s visit, Policy competition, Uttarakhand efforts, SBP advertisement, etc. Contributions, donations will come when called for.
· Further, as our membership goes up, so will membership fees.
· KK Sharma pointed that we need to have regularity and certainty in funds rather than one time or on-call donations because expense needs would be regular with office setup.
· Group agreed that an office will be put in place and call for donation/contribution will be issued and regular follow-ups will be done by the office. R K Atri will drive this mission.
· Need for secretariat people – depending on that we can decide range of activities.
· Sanjay Seth suggested and the group agreed to explore the option of each serious member contributing Rs. 1 Lakh as donation to FTI, the interest on which would be used to fund regular activities. KK Sharma and Ashok Malik also committed. An interesting option came up where a fixed deposit (say of 1 Lakh) will remain in the name of donor in the bank and interest can be redirected to FTI. Ram Atri pointed that he would be willing to contribute 11000 one time donation rather than the FD route. Pallav quoted Rotary club example of membership cards/tickets/draw of various denomination and sell it through members. KK Sharma will explore various systems of loaning and donations and propose on FTI GB.
Sanjeev called up from Australia and stressed the need to spread the freedom word and what FTI stands for (rule of law, good leaders’ platform, and systems/governance), why FTI is different, need for our speakers, outreach, being result focused, framing/contributions to policies, leadership development. He cited understanding with Navbharat party and that we may be called upon to support Varun Arya who has good networks and is contemplating a major move. Though he is not in FTI but may use the SKC platform and for all reasons he is with us. Ram Atri was requested to update on forthcoming Nation Building meet.
· It was suggested that winners be awarded in the nation building meet proposed in March 2014.
· The balance funds can be utilized for the next policy competition which should be a regular event.
· It was also proposed to publish and distribute a summary of the winners’ contribution at the March Nation Building and other meet/forums with FTI logo. This should help cement our credentials as policy experts. Policy competition’s winner’s contribution should be sent as email to all members at SKCF and FTI.
· Pallav suggested a FTI splash in newspaper (full page inserts) city by city with such news/ accomplishments if we want to get noticed. Pallav will check for Chandigarh and propose to FTI. The idea was agreed to as workable but more on this front could happen when there is more activity and funds at FTI.
Uttarakhand flood relief work
· Special mention was made to laud the efforts of Ram Atri, KK Verma along with his family members and team at Delhi.
· Ashok Malik suggested that we post RTI for Uttarakhand relief and he agreed to lead the effort.
· It was deemed important that we publish the accounts of this effort. Sureshan is leading on this matter. Distribution of remaining money should be undertaken on priority as weather improves.
· Membership fee from 2012-13 [Status update] – no update, treasurer or information not available. Supratim to update.
· Projects to raise funds (e.g. Information pack for FTI to be prepared – Needs to be thrown open on GB for volunteers. Initial effort to be put in by KK Sharma- will prepare a 4 pager A5 size booklet with summary of activities, salient info, alumni etc.
Full time office
· Funding – discussed separately above. Need to identify the right person, requirements from the person and structure of supervision. Sanjay Seth will explore options and propose solution. Till some permanent arrangements are made, KK Verma has agreed that his house can be used as working office of FTI, SKCF and SBP. He is to be provided with necessary support.
· “What Freedom Means to Me” – FTI publication. It is an intellectual job, lot of reading; discussing, brain storming, editing etc. will be required. One of the longest pending jobs. Fundamentally, the language of liberalism has to be translated into an easy language for understanding like the socialist language. People need to be shown the reason/logic in their language and understanding. Part timers have found it difficult; will be taken up later when we have an able office hand. We can also look to have interns (Political Science, Sociology graduates) working on this at a nominal honorarium.
· Ongoing improvement of SKCF reform agenda – Most members have not gone through. Agenda available through email etc. Members should go through and suggest improvements.
· Policy Handbook – detailed policies to be drafted – Slow process. Policy competitions and piloting effort from members required. Voluntary part timing makes it difficult.
· Public report on FTI: Summary of what FTI has done since inception, including crediting all key people for their contributions?…. Job was considered best done by Sanjeev Sabhlok.
· Website and Social media – Member efforts and sharing etc. needs to go up. Members need to write more and share publicly. Anubhav to appraise on Forum problem and possible solutions.
FTI members who are contesting in 2014
· Not key strategy but some members may wish to gain experience
· Possibility of escalation of efforts being considered.
· Issue left to individual discretion. FTI members can only contest from approved (broadly liberal) parties.
Review of current status (including of the SKC Federation) and next steps
Flood relief work
· Accounts and any follow up action-
· Sureshan will formalize Tax related issues. He will go to the GB and request people with voter ID cards registered in 8 different states.
Office in Delhi
· Experience and follow up action – discussed above, funding mechanism also discussed. Presently the house of KK Verma is earmarked as office of FTI, SKCF and SBP.
Plan to hold policy-related meetings
· Potential -try to hold one in 2014 with SKCF partner. No organization presents to make a commitment. Also need a project manager to lead this effort.
SKC reform agenda
· Discuss the agenda and suggest key improvements (to be offered to all parties (including NBDP) in 2014). KK Verma had brought one copy of latest “agenda for change” which was shown and finally given to Mr Pallav Mukherjee. No other member seemed to have read this in totality or had any contrarian views on any portion. It was intimated that agenda for change is available online and can be accessed through email, websites etc. Members should go through these documents, distribute among friends and suggest improvements.
SKC strategies for 2014
· Ram K Atri and KK Verma energized efforts during the Uttarakhand activities. National branding happened. Need to sustain. Need an office. Need momentum. Need support (time and effort) of other FTI members. Voluntarism seems to have been stretched. KK Verma and his family members worked hard for last many months to ensure that this relief work goes on. Their effort needs support and recognition. Need belief in the concept of FTI and SKCF. All members to work focused to take the idea of FTI and SKCF forward.
· Need to think of ways to hold the government to account (e.g. citizens' government/ shout. do type effort)…. Pallav suggested that there are RTI Federation state units which can be approached for help. Shouting needs people. Organisation strength- first need.
· Preparation of reform bills…. Need initiative of existing FTI members.
· Develop a media strategy and key spokespersons who speak on current issues in the media…..Need a standing spokesperson. Qualities- well versed, well-spoken, confident, one on whom FTI GB would have confidence. KK Verma and P Sureshan volunteered.
Other thoughts/ actions/ action plans?
· KK Verma remarked that FTI/SKCF and related efforts are single person/effort dependent whereas we need a more wider participation with time bound plans. Members participation in various activities remain important.
· Ram Atri- Ishwar Dayal (industrialist and publisher) wants to start off a leadership institute (not affiliated to any political party) Ram will take up further with Sanjeev.
· Pallav Mukherjee suggested – Chandigarh cinema halls vacant, we can get a team of experts talking about excess electricity bill charging (two month advance) in one of those halls. May be we can invite Gurcharan Das or personalities who are known and can be identified with …. Pallav ready to lead one such effort in Chandigarh. Suneeta will help.
· Pallav suggested we can follow the concept of Parliamentary education organization. E.g. take up issue of how additional work hours can be spent by Municipal Corp for interaction with people. People need to put pressure. Pallav will put some ideas on FTI/cGov facebook page.
· KK Verma requested Sanjay Seth to share his experience about Japanese culture and how it could be beneficial to Indians in Indian environment. He appraised the group on why Japan is successful and what lessons can India draw from there. Suggest Sanjay to post a summary of his talk.
· Ram Atri shared an update on forthcoming Nation Building meet in March 2014 – will be more action oriented, process of identifying people is on. 11 committees of 11 people each will work extensively on various aspects identified through last conference and ongoing efforts. Varun Arya a key figure in the proceedings. Will support a party closest to the entire proposition.
DAY 1 (February 15) – Cultural Evening
Time – 5.30 PM to 8 PM
Venue – Bharat Vikas Parishad Bhawan (India Development Council building), Sector 12A, Punchkula, Punjab.
It was jointly organized by Sarokar, an initiative of Ankit Dhariwal Memorial Trust (ADMT) with Ms Suneeta Dhariwal as founder trustee. This program was second in series for Social Awareness for Indian youth.
This was organized in association with Freedom Team of India (FTI) and Sone Ki Chidiya Federation (SKCF). It is believed that enhancing social awareness and building leadership platform is the main objective of this event. It achieved its objective.
Two speakers – one Mr P Sureshan and other Mr Kamal Sharma delivered a talk on leadership and integrated India – Challenges and opportunities. KK Verma delivered a vote of thanks. A special thanks was extended to Suneeta Dhariwal who took all the pain to conceive, plan and execute such a nice event. The initiative of Mr Bimadraj from Ideabulls was also applauded.
Cultural evening witnessed a very well performed Brazilian Dance and Music by Brazilian Artist Ms Simon Da Silva Novaes, Popularly known as Mony Moon in entertainment industry. Around 100 local people attended the evening program and appreciated the effort of FTI and SKCF.
Women TV channel was launched by Chief Guest Mr Prasad. Dr Vidya Kumari from Delhi became its first member. Ms Suneeta Dhariwal explained that this channel will work extensively to ensure women empowerment and show various women issues.
Ms Suneeta Dharwal worked very hard to ensure success of this evening program. Her effort was lauded by everyone present there. It was felt that members of FTI need to broaden its scope and activities through local organizations and local issues. It was good to see that so many local organizations took part in the program.
The program was followed by dinner jointly managed by Bharat Vikas Parishad and Freedom Team of India.
DAY 2 (February 16)
1. KK Verma
2. Suneeta Dhariwal
3. Kamal Sharma
4. P Sureshan
5. Ram Atri
6. Anil Sharma
7. Siddhant Singh
8. Ashok Malik
9. Sanjay Seth
10. Balraj Malik
11. Mahendra Dhariwal (late arrival)
12. Ms. Anita Jangra (late arrival)
13. Bimad Raj (late arrival)
· It was a plenary session of Swarna Bharat Party, started at 9.15 AM.
· Sureshan appraised about the 5 Feb meeting (Sureshan, KK Verma) with ECI regarding SBP. ECI discussed and suggested changes to be made by 10 March- complete necessary amendments/corrections (like symbol requirement) in the constitution. Sureshan, KK Verma and Balraj Malik to make necessary efforts and ask for team support wherever required.
· KK Verma suggested that we have an SBP constitution; all members were requested to have a look into and start following the ideas and principles in spirit. He further appraised about the AGM of SBP conducted on 10 Jan 2014 at C-79, First Floor, South Ex Part 2, New Delhi – 110049. It was attended by KK Verma, Ram Atri, Sureshan, Ashok Malik, Balraj Malik, Gaurav, Pushpender Rana, Anil Sharma (Vidoconf).
· Plenary session of SBP decided on few essential activities. As discussed during AGM at New Delhi, plenary session of SBP reiterated the formation of various committees –
· Sanjeev Sabhlok’s effort appreciated
· Sureshan informed that SBP Registration will happen…how to LAUNCH? However KK Verma intimated that plenty of efforts and work needed to pursue the case of registration and then follow the constitution. The party work is a serious job and we all need to be proactive to work as per constitution of SBP. Suggested to launch at March Nation building meet where some political parties will also be there. Ram Atri to explore.
· KK Verma suggested that we must decide about candidate for 2014 election and from now on we should start identifying candidates (KK Verma) for 2019 right away.
The entire group applauded the effort of KK Verma and Suneeta Dhariwal. Many thanks go to Executive committee members including Supratim, Ajay and Vishal for their kind support. It was appreciated that Anil Sharma came from London. Although this was a unique conference, it was felt that the it was one of weakest in terms of attendance . Participating members spent thousands of rupees to come but felt some setback due to poor participations from FTI members.
For the next conference, discussions:
1. It was observed that participants were not adequately aware about the agenda. It is felt that all members should play active role in ensuring success of such big events.
2. In Chandigarh, other than Suneetaji, no one took part. The local chapter needs to be sufficiently large to organise the entire event.
3. Minimum 20 numbers confirming and committing their presence is necessary for an annual meeting.
4. Executive committee members must compulsorily attend. Those not attending should have a valid reason.
It was felt, while facing the tough questions from journalists, that some key good people were missing from FTI’s side. It is important for all old members to remain committed and participate in such emerging opportunities.
Written, compiled and edited by:
Kamal K Sharma,
Suneeta Dhariwal and