Nara Lokesh is a new age leader who is following the footsteps of his grandfather, the legendary Nanadamuri Taraka Rama Rao (NTR), and his father Nara Chandrababu Naidu. Lokesh combines in his person the passion of his grandfather and the political vision and strategic excellence of his father. A successful, self-made man, Lokesh pursued education at Ivy League universities and had a productive stint at World Bank. After leading the family business to extraordinary profits Lokesh found his true calling to serve the people and build the TDP as an enabler to convert Telugu people’s aspirations into reality.
Family and Education :
Born into a political family Lokesh has seen the trials and tribulations of public life from close quarters. As a child he saw his maternal grandfather the late N.T. Rama Rao (NTR) and father N. Chandrababu Naidu both serve as chief ministers of Andhra Pradesh. Many members of his extended family have been into politics, films and business with its associated power, influence and public adulation. Always close to power and yet away from it, Lokesh’s childhood and formative years were spent in pursuit of education, family values and principles of ethical living. Lokesh is the only child of Chandrababu Naidu and Bhuvaneswari. With Mr. Naidu busy in politics and administration, he grew up under the care of his mother.Despite being at the helm of power for long years, the atmosphere and lifestyle at home was always sober and simple. This greatly influenced Lokesh as both Mr. Naidu and Ms. Bhuvaneswari believe in simple living habits while stressing on values such as hard work, disciple and commitment to the task at hand.His grandfather NTR’s overarching personality, and his concern and passion for the society, Telugu people and the downtrodden also left an imprint on Lokesh. These early influences shapedhis outlook and helped him find his foot in the real world as he moved to the United States for higher education. After doing a Bachelor of Science degree in Management Information Systems from Carnegie Mellon University, Lokesh secured entry into the prestigious Stanford University GSB where he successfully completed Master’s in Business Administration.In 2007 Lokesh married his cousin Bramhani, the eldest daughter of his maternal uncle and the hugely popular Telugu film actor Nandamuri Balakrishna.
Corporate career :
His interest in harnessing technology for administrative excellence drove Lokeshto work for World Bank where he was involved in projects such as building Ethiopia’s e-Governance capacity and assisting South Sudan’s public sector, ICT and e-Governance plans. He returned to India in 2008 to take charge of the family’s retail business Heritage Group, which was being managed by his mother. As Executive Director, Lokesh brought in major changes at Heritage by streamlining the systems and expanding into new geographies and services. Profits at Heritage which were languishing at Rs. 630 crore in 2008, catapulted to Rs. 1,600 crore by 2013 when he left business to assist his father full time in politics.
Political Entry :
The decade 2004-14 under the UPA Government at the Centre and the Congress regime in Andhra Pradesh has been marked by pathetic governance, slowdown in investments, stalled projects and jobless growth. This period has also seen rampant crony capitalism and rank political opportunism resulting in unprecedented levels of corruption, criminalization and fanning of regional sentiments in the state. Lokesh’s political entry happened when the Telugu Desam Party (TDP) as well as the people of undivided Andhra Pradesh were undergoing one of the most difficult times. By festering regional conflicts and encouraging defections, the Congress tried to destabilize the opposition. People were driven to despondency and lost faith in political process as the ruling party created discord among regions. TDP, which has strong organization and committed workers across all three regions, was put on the back foot because of the Congress’s political opportunism. By May 2013, when Lokesh started participating more actively in TDP affairs, the party was in a crisis. It had seen two straight stints in opposition and was launching a severe fight back on the success of its president N. Chandrababu Naidu’s state-wide padayatra. In such an atmosphere, the emergence of Lokesh’s modern, visionary and focused approach proved to be a big boost to the party and the political atmosphere in the state. Lokesh explored new horizons and brought in new ideas that galvanized the cadre while providing a clear direction on the issues that the party needed to focus on to come back to power.
Interests and Hobbies :
The Nara-Nandamuri household represents a happy marriage of tradition and modernity. The NTR legacy ensures that Telugu culture, arts, language, family and civilizational values are given the pride of place. The family is also rooted to land and farming as both Mr. NTR and Mr. Naidu hail from humble origins and pride themselves as sons of soil. A strong work ethic, dedication and commitment to a cause are emphasized. This background, coupled with Mr. Naidu’s political vision and reformist impulses, has meant that the family has always been open to modern ideas. Physical fitness, adaption of technology and being at the top of learning curve in one’s chosen field are the things that drive Lokesh. Lokesh is a health freak who likes cycling and swimming and has wide range of interests in media, film making and entrepreneurship.
Lokeshleveraged his training and exposure to global trends in development strategies and e-governance methodologies to come out with innovative, out-of-box welfare schemes for Indian conditions
He helped TDP develop the Cash Transfer Scheme from Brazilian models for their manifesto in the 2009 elections. The TDP proposal was criticised by Congress, but later was implemented by UPA in January 2013.
Similarly, Lokesh devised effective communication strategies that explained in simple terms how corruption, especially the quid pro quo deals between government and business, can harm the long term interests of the people. These communications were widely used by TDP in the run-up to and during the 2014 General Elections.
He brought a fresh approach to the way political campaigns are conducted by bringing in a strong technology focus. He headed a strong analytics team that processed huge amounts of data and the feedback from social media provided valuable leads that helped in defining the battleground for the 2014 general elections. This field-based feedback mechanism helped define the issues that were affecting the people, what commitments the party could make and helped the candidates, district leaders, and the party president connect with the electorate better. Lokesh has been the key strategist for the party right from candidate selection to policy formulation.
Lokesh also changed the way political discourse has been conducted in Andhra Pradesh. For long politics in the Telugu land thrived on vote banks by playing emotions of one against the other. While some leaders pit one region against the other, others pit one caste against each other. Political parties have also tried to ignite the people’s sentiments on the basis of religion and encash it during the polls.
Political Legacy :
Lokesh presents a refreshing contrast and has been a fine practitioner of development-oriented inclusive politics. His vision is based on the understanding that growth and prosperity of a caste, community, religion, village, city or sector need not be at the cost of another. He believes that development, uplift and progress need not be a case of one against the other, but it can include everyone. In this he is clearly following the line of his grandfather the legendary Sri NandamuriTaraka Rama Rao (NTR) and his illustrious father Sri N. Chandrababu Naidu.
At the heart of Lokesh’s vision lies his philosophy for all-round development with the integration of different streams which drives growth. This includes Knowledge, Water, Energy, Security and Human Resources, the five fundamental powers required to achieve holistic and sustainable growth.
Development Model :
He is an enthusiast of Public-Private-Participation (PPP) model in almost all sectors to bring in more equitable development. Lokesh’s pet project is drinking water scheme for all villages of Andhra Pradesh. Christened NTR SujalaSravanti, it is being planned under PPP model. Several reputed institutions are showing interest in the scheme. He also plans to have a similar medical reimbursement scheme.
Lokesh also believes in embracing urbanisation as an opportunity rather than a threat, it made provisions to modernise and improve lives in urban areas
Currently, Lokesh is the treasurer for TDP Worker’s Welfare Fund and is busy preparing a strong contingent for the party in both Telangana and AP. Some 6.6 lakh party soldiers will be readied in another year’s time who will be given employment opportunities. The party will also partly finance their individual establishments and insure their lives. These soldiers will act as the eyes and ears of the party at the grass-root levels, and will give constant feedback on government activities, based on interactions with the people.
Lokesh is developing programs through NTR Memorial Trust on Healthcare, Education, Skills Enhancement and Disaster Management.
Healthcare: Lokesh is designing the Trust’s healthcare program to provide the poorwith better access to medical attention, deliver need-based and efficient health care services at the door-step and expandoutreach both in rural and urban areas. The Trust’s blood banks, health camps (mobile clinics andeye camps) and NTR Sujala (purified drinking water scheme) are the vehicles for realizing his vision of a disease-free Andhra Pradesh.
Blurb: Need-based, efficient and sustainable health care services go a long way in ensuring a disease-free society
…Walk With Lokesh
Education: Lokesh is expanding the scope of NTR Trust’s educational program. Currently, it operates in a two-pronged way: through its own model schools; and by sponsoring children at other schools. The idea is to provide opportunities to the children of less privileged segments, develop talent and skills so they emerge as leaders and change agents among their communities and guide children towards higher education while monitoring and counseling them till they find a foothold in their chosen lines of career.
He is currently developing models where people can contribute by
Sponsoring the education of one or more children for a limited duration or throughout
Bearing the cost of construction of one or more class-rooms/laboratories/ libraries/sections/ hostel blocks/rooms
Sponsoring board and lodge expenses for a specific number and specific period
Sharing the maintenance cost of one or more hostel blocks
Sponsoring school kits/uniforms/text-books for a specific number of certain class(es), for as many years as you wish
Bearing the cost of schooling for one year or more
Blurb:Education is the royal road for empowerment, freedom and prosperity. Let’s pave the way for a great future
…Walk With Lokesh
Skills Development: Lokesh’s pet project has been skills enhancement and youth empowerment.He is working on a grandiose project that involves organizing entrepreneurship development programs (EDPs) and skill development programs with a focus on rural areas. He is working on ways to devise a more organized and sustainable way of promoting vocational training, imparting employable skills and promotion of livelihood opportunities through the participation of the community/society.
Blurb: Young men and women with right skills, entrepreneurship and a fire to succeed are the torch-bearers for our way to prosperity and self-reliance
…Walk With Lokesh
Disaster management: Lokesh oversees thedisaster response program of the Trust that operates in times of natural calamities. This involves ensuring speedy and smooth execution of the relief measures through a hierarchy of coordination committees.
Blurb:Helping those in distress is the right road to create a responsible and equitable society
…Walk With Lokesh
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