“Listen to the people! Be empathetic; be patient, without discrimination of religion. Only then you can be a leader whom people recognise and trust” – U T Khader, Food and Civil Supplies Minister, Karnataka State.
A notable leader of Mangaluru, known for his hardworking and empathetic attitude, he has won the hearts of the people. U T Khader spoke exclusively to newskarnataka.com as a minister from “Namma Kudla”.
NK: There is a lot of misuse of government facilities, fake ration cards just being one in the food and supplies sector. Being a food minister, how have you tried to resolve this problem?
UTK: There is a problem of bogus or fake cards. We have taken measures to link ration cards to Aadhar cards, and that process is in place. Through this we can detect all fake rations cards. The ration cards of nearly 58 Lakh individuals have not been linked with their Aadhar cards. The time span is extended till the end of December. As many of the Mangaloreans are abroad, this process is taking time to complete. We are not issuing any new cards until all the old ration cards are linked. This is a cleaning process and it takes time. Until then the benefits are available through only ration cards. Once this is completed the new ration cards will be issued.
NK: The distribution of grains in the ration shops seems to be in a state of turmoil. What are the measures that you have taken to prevent the illegal and partial distribution of food grains?
UTK: We have brought out a coupon system where the customer gets a coupon in which the rightful amount of grains that they need to get will be written. It’s a little difficult to obtain these coupons but once a customer gets this, no one can take it away from them. The process of getting the coupons will be made much easier in future days.
NK: How do you feel now as a Food and Civil Supplies Minister of Karnataka State?
UTK: When I was a health minister, I worked towards the need of the people. I speak to people about their needs and strive to implement the programmes that they feel are important. Like Bike Ambulance, government health insurance for APL and BPL, generic medicine, free dialysis etc., have been implemented for the poor. I got a chance and I am working. As a food and civil supplies minister too, I have implemented the coupon system for the fair ration distribution. Working for the welfare of the people is the main goal to me.
NK: Most of Coastal Karnataka mostly depends on Arecanut and Beedi Rolling as a mainstream occupation. How do you feel that this can be improved or sustained?
UTK: Arecanut is a long time crop and lot of work is required for that. At the end of the day, if some disease strikes there will be a huge loss. What we can see today is people are shifting from one crop to another like from arecanut to rubber, then to paddy, then to coconut and so on. There is no steady and continuous farming. If we find one business that’s popular we run towards it and leave the present one behind. We have to focus on alternative crop rather than running behind different options. When people do the same cultivation, the prices come down and when there is diverse cultivation, possibilities of income widen up. Though poor, Mangaluru women have educated children and make them engineers and doctors. We have to learn from them to stick on to one business. China has gone ahead of India because of the cottage industries. We too have to open such industries to help the local people gain employment and this will help us grow.
NK: We find a lot of small vendors struggling due to the demonetisation. What is your view on this?
UTK: This is a good initiative and it was welcomed by the people. Mangaloreans have adjusted and supported this good cause. The flipside of it is seen mainly among the daily wage labourers. These people are suffering now. The government should have planned this initiative and then gotten into the field. There is a difference between dictatorship and the democracy. The government should have asked and discussed with the people and then taken an action. The basic ration cards have not reached the people. How will you expect to establish a cashless economy? Daily wage labourers depend on cash economy and changing that is not such an easy task.
NK: What is the message that you want to give to our readers?
UTK: People know about the various programmes that are there for the public. These have to be utilised to the maximum and on the other hand, there are people who do not know about the government facilities. They should be helped to gain the benefits. There are a lot of people without Aadhar card. So please help people make one as they can avail maximum benefits from it. Aadhar card will be a compulsion. Only 10 percent of the citizens do not possess the Aadhar card and they have to do it as soon as possible. Special focus should be given to education because economic stability, political stability and religious stability are very important and it comes only when the society is educated. When all the people here are educated, Mangaluru will reach greater heights.
NK: You are known as the hard working minister of Siddaramaiah cabinet. What are your views about that?
UTK: I have grown to this level since I work for the people as I work for myself. Listen to the people! Be empathetic; be patient, without discrimination of religion. Only then can you be a leader whom people recognise and trust. This is what I did. A person does not need to be educated much to serve the society. All they need to do is understand the people’s problems and work towards them. This is the way I work.
Minster UT Khader has made his presence felt. Let such good works keep coming from him and aid in building a better state and a better nation.