A group of young techies from Hyderabad who at one time or the other faced problems in getting their work done through several government departments used RTI with great success. They formed the ‘It’s Time to Make a Difference’ (ITMD) organisation to help others use RTI, which just celebrated its third anniversary
Note the following postings by RTI (Right to Information) users on the website of `It’s Time to Make a Difference’ – www.itmd-india.org
23 December 2011:
Waited for my son’s passport for over nine months... Everything was fine with my application but just the dispatch was pending for no acceptable reason. Tried to know reasons for this delay through an RTI application but the reply I received was so vague and unclear. Filed another RTI application with patience and this time ‘strongly requested’ (rather demanded) for clear and valid information... I got my kid’s passport within 3-4 weeks with a formal reply from passport officer.
You really don’t need to run around the offices or bribe any corrupted employees. Just use this powerful weapon of RTI. It certainly works. Try once.
Thanks to ITMD team and www.itmd-india.org for providing valuable information. Request everyone not to encourage agents at all.
12 December 201: Sridhar
I have received my passport after a struggle of six months. Since the last six months my passport status was "Police report not received."
With the help of ITMD’s Passport RTI templates I addressed my RTI application to the CPIO, Hyderabad. Immediately after one week my status changed to "Passport has been granted and is expected to be dispatched by 05-12-2011. Subject to all documents being in order." .I got my passport on 10 December 2011.
Thanks ITMD team for motivating, supporting and guiding with RTI forms.
18 October 2011: Veerendra
I have successfully used RTI, with the help of the ITMD team, to get my daughter’s passport within two months of submitting a RTI application and after waiting for more than four months initially. Here are the milestones:
It all began in 2008 for Y Panasa Rama Krishna, president of the ‘It’s Time to Make a Difference (ITMD) organization and a young techie from Hyderabad, when his infant daughter did not receive her passport despite having submitted all the relevant documents.
Harassed by the illogical and rude attitude of the passport officer, he filed a RTI asking for the reasons for the delay in getting the passport. After the stipulated 30 days, he got a reply stating that he had not submitted a particular document. Mr Krishna says, “I was confident that I had submitted the required documents and the RTI reply was another way to harass me. I therefore filed a First Appeal with the appellate authority in the Delhi Passport Office which directed the CPIO to provide me the requisite information. Instead, I promptly received my passport.”
Realising the power of RTI, he, along with his other colleagues of his IT company, focused on four main areas where a common man faces hurdles and harassment. They were: passport, income tax returns, provident fund and domestic gas cylinder. To facilitate citizens in invoking RTI for their problems, they formed an organisation called ‘It’s Time to Make a Difference’ (ITMD) and floated a website: www.itmd-india.org wherein they guide citizens on how to file a RTI application including emailing templates of RTI applications to them.
The result: The Hyderabad Passport Office is inundated with RTI applications demanding reasons for delay in procuring of passports. Thanks to IMTD, 1,100 such RTI applications have been filed at the Hyderabad Passport Office since the last three years, which has resulted in 95% of the applicants promptly receiving their passports, which were otherwise kept on hold due to flimsy reasons. Mr Krishna states that passport applicants are really not interested to merely find out the status of their passport under RTI, they want to have the passport. “We recommend them to ask for reasons of delay in their passport under RTI and most often they promptly get the passport, thanks to the pressure on the passport officer of a RTI having filed.”
Says Mr Krishna, “...otherwise, the passport officer would only give an ear to someone who has gone through an agent, or if he or she is a friend of the passport office staff or if he or she is a VIP. Although fortnightly ‘Adalats’ are held in the passport office, they are a mere eyewash. The passport officer’s attitude towards the common people who rightfully submits documents is appalling and annoying.”
Thus, the IMTD’s success story has been scripted by software engineers —Y Panasa Rama Krishna, Raghavendra Addepalli, Keerti Botla, Pratheek Murki, Sri Harsha Vuppala, Sameer Nandan Menda and Meghashyam Rankireddy. Besides, their website through which at least 100-150 passport applications, 20-30 income tax applications and 10-15 provident fund applications are filed under RTI every month, they hold various workshops and RTI sessions to spread the word of this citizen-friendly law.
The genesis of ITMD is, in a way, a reaction to the horrendous 26/11 Mumbai terror. The website states: “On 26 November 2008, the whole country came to a standstill because of a war waged by an extremist group of people on our financial capital. The war lasted for a solid 72 hours. We lost many brave men and women who succumbed to the rain of bullets sprayed by the extremists. We might have won this particular war, but we are still under threat from these dangerous extremist groups which are constantly trying to disturb the harmony of our country. 26/11 shook the entire country and made everyone realize that one can no more be oblivious of the scheme of things around him. We may be happy in our own small world but that does not guarantee continuous welfare.”
Hence, the motto of the ITMD is two words—Do It. Mr Krishna states in the website that, “ITMD is a group of like-minded people who strive to bring positive change in the society by taking up initiatives targeted towards social well being. We are used to expecting someone to take the lead, expecting someone else to do something. To top it all, we have the tendency to blame everything on the government as it is the one that has to face the situation. We realized that we do not always have to wait for someone to come and bring the positive change around. If we care about it we can change it, too. We looked around us and found that there are problems and yet there are people who could get together to solve them. It is then that the realization dawned that It’s Time to Make a Difference.”
ITMD has succeeded in using RTI for common problems like overflowing garbage, bad streetlights, low quality construction of roads and illegal encroachments. In several cases, the Hyderabad Municipal Corporation has been compelled to improve its governance.
Members of the ITMD have to strictly abide by the five rules:
ITMD has recently submitted a report to the Andhra Pradesh State Information Commission on the status of various government departments on whether they have abided by the Section 4 of the RTI Act pertaining to suo moto disclosure.
With a thrust to create awareness about RTI and inspire citizens to use this law in large numbers, IMTD members have made an interesting bookmark which states: “Our Constitution gives us six fundamental rights which uphold civil liberties in our country. It is only when we interpret these rights in their true spirit that we realize how powerful they are. It is one such interpretation of one of the rights (Right to Freedom) that gave us an effective and powerful act through which we can hold our government accountable. The Act is called Right to Information Act, 2005.’’
IMTD holds RTI sessions for any group of citizens who would be interested in knowing about the RTI Act. The contacts are: Helpline: 91 9966311692; email: [email protected]
(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife. She is also an RTI activist and convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte. She can be reached at [email protected])
With accounting standards that keep changing from hour to hour, the balance sheets become irrelevant pieces of garbage. Yes, you will have statutory compliance, but the investor is thoroughly misled
There is wonderful news for companies that are sitting on liabilities in foreign currency. The corporate affairs ministry has put its foot in the domain of the guild called the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India (ICAI) and said that these liabilities can be ignored from the accounting statements till 2020. Effectively, losses on foreign exchange can be taken directly to the balance sheet, without going through the profit and loss account!
This is very much like the ministry of health changing the name of a terminal disease from, say, cancer, to a minor disorder like ‘fever’. Everyone should be happy.
It is amazing how the government comes in to fool the investing public. The Reserve Bank of India (RBI) comes in and relaxes norms relating to recognition of bad debts. It permits banks to ‘reschedule’ loans so that they do not have to reduce their profits on account of doubtful loans. And the stupid banks will report ‘higher’ profits and pay taxes on it too! And the brokerages will come out with research reports that will end up comparing apples with tomatoes.
The length to which the government bodies connive with industry bodies to hide things from investors is amazing. And the body called ICAI just keeps it mouth shut.
Now, the accounting standards are supposed to be the sole domain of the ICAI. If the RBI or the corporate affairs ministry permits laxity in accounting norms, should the former toe the line? Is it not the job of the ICAI to qualify the accounts and quantify precisely the impact on the bottomline due to changes brought about by some fiat issued by a third party? If they do not do this, they are not being true to their profession and the investors have a right to seek explanations from the auditors. The auditors should simply ignore the change in reporting standards permitted by some unrelated entities and expose the scam for what it is.
It is no wonder that Indian equities are viewed with suspicion. With accounting standards that keep changing from hour to hour, the balance sheets become irrelevant pieces of garbage. Yes, you will have statutory compliance, but the investor is thoroughly misled.
In case, the rupee gains and there are exchange profits, will the companies stop reporting these? Why are rules and norms being designed to simply pretend that things are fine when they are not? There seems to be a concerted effort between various government agencies and the industry associations to fool the investing public at large. And in this, bodies like the ICAI have become a ‘handmaiden’, who does not care about the fact that it owes legal allegiance to the shareholders and not to the promoters.
The end result would be financial results that are boosted by heavy doses of ‘steroid’ and even the analyst body would not do anything about this. The promoters will use these fairy-tale accounts to raise more money from the public and the banking system. The banking system will in turn use these fairy-tale customers to boost their numbers and fool the public.
It is best to avoid all companies with any kind of foreign exchange liabilities. One simply does not know whether the company is already bust or just bluffing.
Financial services secretary DK Mittal said banks would have to work on identification code, know your customers (KYC) norms and core banking solution (CBS) for implementing the savings bank account number portability
New Delhi: The finance ministry is working on savings banks account number portability, which will allow a customer to retain his account number while changing his bank, reports PTI.
“We want to do it (savings a/c number portability). Right now there are some technical problems...we have identified them. We will overcome them soon,” financial services secretary DK Mittal told reporters here,
He was speaking after a meeting in the ministry, which among others was attended by economic affairs secretary R Gopalan, finance secretary RS Gujral and Chief Economic Adviser Kaushik Basu.
He said banks would have to work on identification code, know your customers (KYC) norms and core banking solution (CBS) for implementing the savings bank account number portability.
The move would help customers change banks, without the need of going through the KYC norms again.
Last year, the government had allowed portability of mobile numbers and health insurance policies.
In October last year, the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) had deregulated interest rates on savings account deposits, following which few private sector lenders have hiked rates to as much as 7%.
Mr Mittal further said capital infusion in PSU banks would be completed by the end of this fiscal. “We will complete the process of bank recapitalisation by 31st March,” he said.
The government has already announced that it is committed to providing adequate capital to public sector banks, so as to maintain their Tier-I capital at 8%.
The government has made Budget provision of Rs6,000 crore for capital infusion in PSU banks in the current fiscal.
State Bank of India, Bank of Baroda, Union Bank of India, IDBI Bank and Syndicate Bank are some of the lenders which will be benefited by the capital infusion initiative of the government.