Skip to main content

RTI campaign reveals tribal woman waited for three months to get her thumb impression approved

RTI on Wheels in a tribal area of Banaskantha
By Our Representative
Do the tribal people of Banaskantha district in Gujarat have to face official indifference towards getting simple formalities done for getting their subsidized ration from fair price shops? It would seem so, if impressions gathered during the latest campaign by the premier Gujarat body propagating the right to information (RTI), Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel (MAGP), are any indication. Currently on a tour of Gujarat’s eastern tribal belt for making RTI popular, the MAGP found exactly this when the RTI on Wheels reached the mamlatdar office at Bhabhar taluka in Banaskantha district, where tribals live.
Narrating one such experience, Pankti Jog, the activist who is leading the MAGP campaign, said, “It was 10:30 am, yet there was no one was in the office. The security personnel told us that all the saheb would reach the office about an hour late -- 11:30 am. To make use of our time, we went to the bus stand and decided to do a short outreach programme.”
“By the time we came back, we could see one of the two officials had come to office and were on sitting their chair. As they recognized us, chairs were offered to us, tea was ordered. One of them said, for some reason, they were a little late, though this was not the case generally”, Jog said, adding, “Meanwhile, we noticed one lady waiting outside the cabin of the deputy mamlatdar (food and civil supplies). She was sitting on the floor, while her son, around 14 years of age, was standing with two papers in his hand.”
Jog said, “I asked her what work she had in the office. She replied that her husband had migrated to another district, hence she was not getting her ration. The reason offered to her was that the husband’s thumb impression was required. She complained to us that she was not getting ration for the last three months as her thumb impression was not taken by the computer. She came to the office several times with the request to allow her to get ration and certify her thumb impression. Yet, no one was listening to her.”

Real face of voluntary disclosure under RTI
“This made me to turn to the official, and ask him to look into her problem. Looking at my camera, she was asked to be seated on the chair. A simple piece of information about how she could add her thumb impression to the computer data to access her public distribution system (PDS) ration was given to her after three long months! If we were not there, she might have been asked to pay Rs 50 or Rs 100 to do the job”, the activist said.
“Two days after the incident we got a phone call, and she was so happy. Finally she was able to get her ration! Who was this woman? One might wonder. Does that really matter? Name her as Bhikhiben, Kamuben or Somaben… She is one of the faces among thousands who have been denied ration! Gujarat has heavy migration ratio. People migrate when there are no local livelihood options. This period if very crucial, and families experience food insecurity. It is time when the government becomes more proactive to ensure families get their PDS quota”, Jog pointed out.
The RTI caravan, which she claimed was “getting very good response” and was also leading to “amazing impact” in the tribal area, was helping people connect with the RTI, motivating them to file RTI for seeking accountability from the government, she said, adding, "The RTI on Wheels visited government offices to checked the status of disclosures, discussed issues with officers, and gave them inputs on RTI”.
The Bhabhar mamlatdar office, interestingly, was found not following the RTI rules, which make voluntary disclosures mandatory. “As per section 4 of the RTI Act, information needs to be proactively disclosed – disseminated. A notice board was put inside the office (as seen in the photograph), but no information was provided on it, and Bhabhar was no exception,” Jog said.

Comments

Anonymous said…
I am aware of high credibility and the effective work being done under RTI Act by MAGP and many activist group. We must support them in whatever manner we can. One suggestion- some local volunteers at the village level and Taluka level may be trained to help the local needy people and if any problems, report to MAGP. Virani

TRENDING

Noam Chomsky, top scholars ask NRIs to take stand on human rights violations in India

Counterview Desk
Renowned world scholars, including Noam Chomsky, James Petras, Angela Davis, Fredric Jameson, Bruno Latour, Ilan Pappe, Judith Butler, among others, have issued a statement castigating the Narendra Modi government for allegedly creating an environment of fear through arrests, intimidation and violence.

Actionable programme for 2019 polls amidst lynch mobs, caste violence, hate mongering

Counterview Desk
Reclaiming the Republic, a civil rights network, has released a document prepared under the chairmanship of Justice AP Shah (retired) -- and backed, among others, by Supreme Court advocate Prashant Bhushan, bureaucrat-turned-human rights activist Harsh Mander, economist Prabhat Patnaik, Right to transparency activist Anjali Bhardwaj and social scientist Yogendra Yadav  (click HERE for full list) -- with the "aim" of putting forth policy and legislative reforms needed to “protect” and “strengthen” the Constitutional safeguards for India’s democratic polity.

Call to support IIM-Bangalore professor, censured for seeking action against Uniliver

Counterview Desk
Sections of the Indian Institute of Managements (IIMs) across India have strongly reacted to the decision to censure Dr Deepak Malghan, a faulty at IIM-Bangalore. Prabhir Vishnu Poruthiyil, who is faculty at IIM-Tiruchirapalli, has sought wider solidarity with Dr Malghan, saying, "The administration has censured Deepak for merely suggesting a meaningful action against Hindustan Unilever for their abysmal environmental record" by “disinviting” it for campus placement.

India under Modi "promoted" crony business, protected financial fraudsters, fueled bigotry

By Sandeep* and Rahul Pandey**
Narendra Modi's ascension to power was accompanied with jubilation and expectation. His supporters were expecting an end to era of corruption and initiation of good governance which was described as Achche Din. His party's adherence to idea of nationalism was believed to make India a vibrant country and guide India to be a world leader. He gave the slogan of 'Sabka Saath, Sabka Vikas' conveying that his government was for all.
Corruption The government system is infested with corruption. A minimum of 10% is siphoned off from government schemes and projects, some of which goes back to political party in power and remaining is pocketed by various administrative, executive and political functionaries. This corruption continues and has increased. Now an additional Rashtriya Swayamsewak Sangh (RSS) person working as Official on Special Duty or some equivalent position in every government department also has a share in this booty.
The Narendra M…

Inviting Rajapaksa to India "insult" to 1,40,000 Tamils killed by Sri Lankan army

Counterview Desk
In the context of Sri Lankan opposition leader Mahinda Rajapaksa being invited in India, about 75 human rights activists*, claiming to be concerned about rights violations during the civil war in Sri Lanka, especially in 2009, have joined together to express their dissent through a statement.

Post-advisory, Govt of India appears reluctant to ban e-cigarettes, "harmful" to kids

By Rajiv Shah
Is the Government of India dilly-dallying over the issue of banning e-cigarettes, which have been declared by anti-tobacco activists across the world as providing “an entryway to nicotine addiction”, especially among the kids? It would seem so, if the latest developments are any guide.

A Godse legacy? BJP rulers have "refrained" from calling Gandhi Father of the Nation

By Dr Hari Desai*
What an agony! On one hand, the entire India is celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, but on the other side, so-called Hindu Mahasabha members have been found mock-enacting the killing of the Mahatma and celebrating the murder by distributing sweets!

No aadhaar, no ration? Hard blow by Gujarat govt on poor and marginalized

By Pankti Jog*
Only those who have aadhaar registration and linked it with ration card will get ration from a Public Distribution System (PDS) shop. This decision of the Gujarat government has hit very badly thousands of poor and marginalized communities of Gujarat, especially during the drought year.

World Bank needs a new perspective on development, not just a new president

By Maju Varghese*
The resignation of the World Bank President Jim Yong Kim was an unexpected development given the fact that he had three more years to complete his tenure. Resignations at such a high level after bidding for a second term is unusual which prompts people to think what would have led to the act itself.

Not just Indian women engineers, men too face sexual harassment at workplace: US study

By Rajiv Shah
A recent research, carried out jointly by two US-based non-profit organizations, Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Center for WorkLife Law (WLL), based at the University of California, Hastings College of the Law, has found that 45% of women engineers as against 28% of men engineers complained that it was perceived as “inappropriate when women argued at work, even when it was work-related.”