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

Hindus to be 'sent' to Kashmir? Despite Israeli settlements, peace eludes the region

By Anand K Sahay*
Curfew, news and communications blackout, transportation shut-down... News reports from Kashmir are worrying. So are the views relayed through the media, especially television. Old-fashioned repression seems to be consorting comfortably with expressions of concern “for our Kashmiri brethren”. We are looking at Orwell’s 1984 in the making.

Impact of state repression? Kashmir's 65% people prefer independence: Cambridge study

By Rajiv Shah 
Even as the Government of India’s controversial move to abrogate Article 370 of the Constitution and bifurcate Jammu and Kashmir (J&K) into two union territories is not only refusing to down die but has acquired international dimensions, a recent study, published by the Cambridge University Press, has claimed “pro-independence attitudes” among that 65% of Kashmiris, warning, this sentiment worsens when the state machinery resorts “repressive violence”.

Congress' anti-democratic laws led to Modi govt's 'Constitutional' changes: Scholars

Counterview Desk
A large number of academics* said to be belonging to several Indian and international institutions, even as taking strong exception to the Narendra Modi government's alleged move to amend the Constitution through "illegitimate" means, have taken strong exception to their colleagues in academia who we have become "all too accustomed to adopting a calculated silence in the face of such indignities."

Dholera 'inundated': Gujarat govt tries selling low lying area as top smart city site

Counterview Desk
Even as the Dholera Special Investment Region Regional Development Authority (DSIRDA) of the Gujarat government was busy organising a junket for Gujarat-based journalists for the area sought to be sold as an ideal special investment region (SIR) for industrialists, well-known farmers' activist Sagar Rabari has wondered why no investor has so far agreed to put in money in an area situated in Ahmedabad district along the Gulf of Khambhat.

Kashmir normal? Schoolboys, teenagers being arbitrarily picked up, detained: Report

Counterview Desk
A four-person team, consisting of Jean Dr├Ęze, well-known development economist; Kavita Krishnan, who is with the Communist Party of India (Marxist-Leninist); Maimoona Mollah of the All India Democratic Women's Association (AIDWA); and Vimal Bhai of the National Alliance of People's Movements (NAPM), back from a five-day fact-finding mission (August 9-13) from Kashmir, has said that people they spoke to “expressed their pain, anger, and sense of betrayal against the Government of India.”
In a report, “Kashmir Caged”, released along with a short eight-minute film, they said, the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A, dissolution of the state of Jammu and Kashmir (J&K), and bifurcating it into two Union Territories, is not being supported by anyone they met, except for BJP spokesperson on Kashmir affairs Ashwani Kumar Chrungoo, who claimed 46% vote share in J&K.
Excerpts from the report: When our flight landed, and the airlines staff announced that passeng…

Modi's Gujarati mind? Why govt move to 'sell-off' defence PSUs isn't in national interest

By Sandeep Pandey*
The Standing Committee on Defence, 2017-18, of the 16th Lok Sabha highlights the idea of Buy Indian-IDDM (Indigenously Designed Developed and Manufactured). The Committee expressed concern over the import content of equipments produced and developed by Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO), Ordnance Factories (OFs) and defence Public Sector Undertakings (PSUs) because of the dependence it creates for military hardware on foreign suppliers.

Central Gujarat effluent channel 'releasing' highly polluted industrial wastewater: PM told

Counterview Desk
Senior environmentalists of the Paryavaran Suraksha Samiti (PSS), Vadodara, Rohit Prajapati and Krishnakant, in an open letter to the Prime Minister, the Gujarat chief minister, the Gujarat chief secretary, and senior Government of India and Gujarat government officials dealing with environment, pollution and climate change have said that the authorities’ response their pleas to take action against the leakages and flow of polluted wastewater from the effluent channels of Central Gujarat industrial areas has met with complete inertia.

Can't go to court with RTI information, rule Ahmedabad authorities: Kankaria accident

By Pankti Jog*
In a shocking reply to an application filed by me, the Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) authorities have said that the information provided under the Right to Information (RT) Act should be used in court or in a judicial process. The Act is known to be a major tool that enables citizens to seek certified copies of documents, records from any public authority of state and Central government within 30 days, as per provisions of the Act.

Quit India Movement 'betrayal' and dubious role of Hindu Mahasabha, RSS leaders

By Shamsul Islam*
After the recent guillotine of Article 370, Hindutva ideologue Ram Madhav, while celebrating the occasion stated that it was honouring of the sacrifices of Dr Shyam Prasad Mukherjee and thousands others who laid down their lives for its removal. It is to be noted that Dr Mukherjee was a cadre of RSS and was groomed into a Hindutva leader by another Hindutva icon, VD Savarkar.

Strategy for united struggle against Hindutva 'fascism': Ideological silence is 'no option'

By Dr Bhabani Shankar Nayak*
Electoral alliance and opportunism of national and regional political parties, neoliberal economic marginalisation and soft secular Hindutva line pandering to Hindu majoritarianism laid the foundation of Hindutva fascism in post-colonial India.