Skip to main content

RTI on Wheels: Rural folk, urban poor come forward to ask simple questions to indifferent officials

By Our Representative
The RTI on Wheels, a state-wide campaign launched by Mahiti Adhikar Gujarat Pahel (MAGP) for making right to information (RTI) Act as an important took to gather information from government circles on issues of public concern, has claimed huge popular support in the two districts of Gujarat it has visited so far – Bahaskantha and Sabarkantha. Already, the RTI awareness campaign has gone around 110 villages, where over one lakh pamphlets are said to have been distributed, with people coming forward to get help from activists on RTI on Wheel on drafting RTI applications.
Panti Jog, who heads the campaign, says, at Hadad village in Banaskantha district, when RTI on Wheels was on a “routine outreach programme” near the bus stand, and two volunteers were busy distributing pamphlets to those who approach the van, an aged person approached her with a request to come to his village. “I was making announcements, that the RTI on Wheels would be there for half an hour – and whoever wanted to seek guidance from experts may contact the van," Jog said.
“Within five minutes the RTI on Wheels was surrounded by more than 200 people. Everyone wanted to say something, share problems. Some wanted to purchase RTI books, while others wanted help in drafting RTI application for an issue of ration card, or non-payment of Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme, or quantity of ration in public distribution system, pension etc”, she said, adding, “I always keep looking for people who are old aged, and are left behind. Kaka what do you want? I asked the person using my microphone”.
Everyone's attention was on an old fellow with towel around his neck raising his hand. Does this law applies to his village, Lambadiya? He wondered. His next question, according to Jog, was, would the van come to his village? “Sorry kaka, I replied. Our programme is scheduled till 5 pm next time. You can take some pamphlets and distribute in your village, I told him”. In another village, a similar query was asked from among the crowd. I spotted, he was the same kaka. “Keep your van at this location”, he suggested, wondering, again, would the van come to his village? 
In the third village, again, the kaka was there, asking the same question. “This made us finally reach his village, Lambadiya. At 4:45 pm we reached the village, and were there for two hours. He had already become our volunteer, distributing our pamphlets. He was talking about RTI.. He invited women who were living in extreme poverty to join in. He helped many RTI applicants and complainants to draft RTI applications. His name is Hirabhai, a simple-looking man, who, interestingly, never discussed any problem that he might be facing”, Jog said.
The awareness campaign showed some good results, with even illiterate people seeking to file applications on what happened to their pleas to government officials, and how much time would they take in replying to them or taking action. In Tharad town in Banaskantha district, Gujarat chief minister Narenda Modi had inaugurated a group of 200 houses for one of the socially backward communities of Gujarat, a nomadic tribe, under the Pandit Deendalayal project. A group of persons had written an application in early August this year asking the chief officer, Tharad municipality, requesting him to solve their problems of water, street lights and gutter for their society, Shiv colony.
They failed to receive any reply, and continued to suffer. The monsoon was particularly bad for them, as the entire colony was full of dirt, and it was impossible to walk. Municipal workers would not reach the colony to clean it up. “When the RTI on Wheels reached the colony, one of the applicants, decided to file an RTI application seeking to know status their application to the Tharad chief officer”, said Jog. They asked four questions:
* What action had been taken on their application, to whom it has been forwarded and when, and why no action has been taken so far.
* Details of action taken, if any, on the application.
* What are the rules under which the application is being dealt with.
* And date on which the solution, if any, has been found on the application.

Comments

TRENDING

'Flawed' argument: Gandhi had minimal role, naval mutinies alone led to Independence

Counterview Desk Reacting to a Counterview  story , "Rewiring history? Bose, not Gandhi, was real Father of Nation: British PM Attlee 'cited'" (January 26, 2016), an avid reader has forwarded  reaction  in the form of a  link , which carries the article "Did Atlee say Gandhi had minimal role in Independence? #FactCheck", published in the site satyagrahis.in. The satyagraha.in article seeks to debunk the view, reported in the Counterview story, taken by retired army officer GD Bakshi in his book, “Bose: An Indian Samurai”, which claims that Gandhiji had a minimal role to play in India's freedom struggle, and that it was Netaji who played the crucial role. We reproduce the satyagraha.in article here. Text: Nowadays it is said by many MK Gandhi critics that Clement Atlee made a statement in which he said Gandhi has ‘minimal’ role in India's independence and gave credit to naval mutinies and with this statement, they concluded the whole freedom struggle.

A Hindu alternative to Valentine's Day? 'Shiv-Parvati was first love marriage in Universe'

By Rajiv Shah*   The other day, I was searching on Google a quote on Maha Shivratri which I wanted to send to someone, a confirmed Shiv Bhakt, quite close to me -- with an underlying message to act positively instead of being negative. On top of the search, I chanced upon an article in, imagine!, a Nashik Corporation site which offered me something very unusual. 

Don't agree on domestic subsidies, ensure food security at WTO meet: Farmer leaders

Counterview Desk  The Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements (ICCFM), a top network of farmers’ organizations in India, in a letter to Piyush Goyal, Minister of Commerce and Industry, has asked him to “safeguard food security and sovereignty, even as ensuring peasants' rights" at the 13th Ministerial Conference of the World Trade Organization (WTO MC 13), to take place from 26 to 29 February 2024 in Abu Dhabi.

Sharp 61-85% fall in Tech startup funding in India's top 'business-friendly' States

By Rajiv Shah Funding in Tech startups in top business-friendly Indian states has witnessed a major fall, a data intelligence platform for private market research has said in a series of reports it has released this month. Analysing Tech startup data of Telangana, Maharashtra, Delhi NCR, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka and Kerala, Tracxn Technologies Ltd , the Bengaluru-based research firm, finds that except for Kerala, funding witnessed a fall of anywhere between 61% and 85%.

Maize, bajra, jute, banana cultivation banned off West Bengal border: Plea to NHRC

Counterview Desk  West Bengal-based human rights defender Kirity Roy, who is secretary, Banglar Manabadhikar Suraksha Manch, and is national convenor of the Programme Against Custodial Torture & Impunity, in a representation to the chairman, National Human Rights Commission, second within few days, has bought to light one more case of trespassing and destruction of a fertile banana plantation by BSF personnel along the Indo-Bangladesh border, stating, despite a written complaint to the police has taken "no initiative".

India second best place to invest, next to UAE, yet there is 'lacks support' for IT services

By Sreevas Sahasranamam, Aileen Ionescu-Somers*  The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the best place in the world to start a new business, according to the latest annual Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) survey. The Arab nation is number one for the third year in a row thanks to a big push by the government into cutting-edge technology in its efforts to diversify away from oil.

Solar energy funding dips 9% in 2023; 2024 'kicks off' with US$1 billion investment

By Lakshmitha Raj*  Solar energy tech companies have already secured slightly over US$1 billion in funding in 2024 (till Feb 7, 2024) after total funding into Solar Energy companies in India fell 9% to US$1.55B in 2023 from US$1.7B in 2022. A total of 39 $100M+ rounds have been closed till date, with Delhi leading the city-wise funding, followed by Gurugram and Mumbai.

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Mahanadi delta: Aggressive construction in flood plains, reduced fish stock, pollution

By Sudhansu R Das  Frequent natural calamities, unemployment, low farmers’ income, increase in crime rate and lack of quality human resources to strike a balance between growth and environment etc. continue to haunt the state. The state should delve into the root causes of poverty, unemployment and natural calamities.

Narmada Valley's fossil evidence: Ground for 'nationalists' to argue primates' India roots?

By Saurav Sarkar*  In December 1982, a geologist digging in India’s Central Narmada Valley found something he did not expect. Arun Sonakia, who at the time worked for the Geological Survey of India, unearthed a hominid fossil skullcap from the Pleistocene era. The discovery sent shockwaves through the field of paleoanthropology and put South Asia on the map of human prehistory. Some experts concluded that the skull likely belonged to a member of a predecessor species of ours, Homo heidelbergensis , or perhaps was a hybrid of homo species, while Sonakia himself suggested “ an affinity… to Homo erectus .”