“When I despair , I remember that all through history, the ways of truth and love have always won. There have been tyrants and murderers, and for a long time they can seem invincible, but in the end they always fall. Think of it – always” – Mahatma Gandhi.
Triveni is a resident of a settlement in east-Delhi and is classified by the government as a “low-income” person. She relies on the Public Distribution System (PDS) for her quota of essential food grains. However, Triveni had been unable to obtain her entitled food grains from the PDS shop for the last 3 months and wanted to know what she could do. She was advised to file an application under the RTI (Right to Information) act requesting copies of all PDS records, including cash memos. Before the information could arrive, Triveni was offered Rs. 20,000 and sacks of grains by the PDS shop owner, if she took back her RTI application. When the information did arrive, Triveni was shocked to learn that as per government records, she had been getting grains from the PDS shop for the last 3 months! Triveni is literate and can sign her own name so she was outraged to see thumbprints of varying shapes and sizes against her name in the cash memos .
Parivartan, a voluntary not-for-profit civil society organization which is a “people’s movement against corruption”, had advised and helped Triveni with the RTI. Using this RTI act, Parivartan accessed records for all fair price shops in that area and began to analyse the information. In August 2003, Parivartan organised a jun sunwai (people’s hearing) and over 300 people from across Delhi filed RTI applications to view their food grains records.
As the campaign spread, there were reports of violence against Parivartan volunteers and the fair price shop owners lobbied to increase their commission under the PDS as they argued it was too low to make profits.
All this led Parivartan to push for institutionalising the system of public scrutiny of records. Two Saturdays of every month were designated for public viewing of food grains and for lodging complaints. Parivartan has managed to bring about a relief to hundreds of people who were at the mercy of the fair-price shop owners for their daily food necessities.
Before this, Parivartan had led a successful crusade against bribery in Income Tax department.
Parivartan works on the principle that ‘development’ is a function of both growth and equity. Their focus areas include Research, Training, Development Communication and Implementation. They also have a training programme for Identifying and Mentoring Micro-Entrepreneurs .
So, if you are facing redtape-ism or if corruption is glaring at you, don’t just close your eyes ignoring it. File an RTI, take a stand and get counted. It is high time the activist in us wakes up from slumber. If you need inspiration, get in touch with Parivartan at their e-mail: parivartan_india[at]rediffmail[dot]com.