Journalist and RTI activist Vinita Deshmukh says any individual can use the Right to Information Act for the betterment of society and to find answers to everyday problems. At a Moneylife Foundation workshop, she described numerous instances where common citizens have persisted and succeeded along this road
There was a convict, who was sentenced to prison for murder. However, due to the good conduct he exhibited, he was put in an open cell. But when he protested about the quality of the food in the prison he was shifted back to a closed cell without being given any reason. He used the Right to Information (RTI) Act to obtain a copy of the Indian Prison Manual, then wrote to the media about the injustice done to him, and managed to get back to an open cell.
Narrating this incident at a seminar on 'How to use the RTI Act effectively', Vinita Deshmukh, journalist and RTI activist, said: "If a prisoner can use the RTI Act, why can't we? I don't say that we take on a huge scam, but there are several small matters which directly concern you, and which you can remedy."
Ms Deshmukh presented numerous case studies to illustrate how the RTI Act has been used by individuals for the betterment of society, or to find answers to everyday problems. She described how she had utilised information obtained by using the RTI, to make Pune residents aware of the environmental and civic laws that were being flouted by Dow Chemicals, which planned to set up a chemical plant under the garb of a 'research centre'. Under pressure of a growing popular agitation, the government subsequently called a halt to the project and Dow Chemicals pulled out.
Ms Deshmukh gave examples of how senior citizens, peasants and journalists have used the Act to obtain information and put pressure on the authorities to do their job and stop corruption. "Instead of waiting for 30 days and risking further delay for appellate follow-ups, use Section 4 of the RTI Act which allows any citizen to go to a public authority's office and inspect files and records," she said.
The journalist and RTI activist also talked about how grievances have been addressed almost immediately after filing an RTI application, and how sometimes even files that had gone missing, reappeared miraculously when the information was sought. "Government babus don't show it, but they are scared of the RTI. Use it as often as you can, and it will not only check corruption but also ensure better, speedy and efficient governance," she said.
Ms Deshmukh expressed optimism over the use of RTI in India. "India is much ahead of the United States in the public use of the Right to Information, and if we say that 35% of the applications filed are replied to satisfactorily, that is quite some achievement. If people take up the issue seriously, they can force the government to act properly," she said.
This programme, hosted by Moneylife Foundation, complemented earlier seminars on the RTI issue addressed by Ashok Ravat and Bhaskar Prabhu. Ms Deshmukh writes a column for Moneylife that also focuses on the effective use of RTI. Mr Ravat and Mr Prabhu both described their association with the RTI movement and gave tips on how to use RTI better.
Atul Auto has recommended a final dividend of Rs4 per share or 40% against 20% during previous year
Rajkot-based three wheeler manufacturer Atul Auto said that its net profit rose 108% to Rs9.43 crore for the year ended 31 March 2011 from Rs4.54 crore in the last fiscal.
During the 12-month period, the company's net turnover rose 69% to Rs201 crore.
According to SIAM, there is 57% increase in total sales of vehicles compared to overall market growth of 19.44%. The company has recommended a final dividend of Rs4 per share or 40% against 20% during previous year.
Vijay Kedia-director, Atul Auto Ltd said, "We are pleased to inform that company has beaten its own target of achieving 50% growth at the beginning of the year. In fiscal 2012 the company intends to penetrate its product across the country." Atul Auto is interested in acquiring controlling stake in some running units from auto or auto components field and company in consultation with few investment bankers. This will take some time and should happen in calendar year 2012, he further added.
On Tuesday, Atul Auto ended 1.38% to Rs128.40 on the Bombay Stock Exchange, while the benchmark Sensex gained 1.49% to 18,503.28.
The ADA Group company has been trying to find a buyer for its tower business and to sell a 26% stake in RCom over the past year as its debt burden has increased from Rs30,000 crore to over Rs32,000 crore
Reliance Communications Ltd (RCom) has said that it has received several offers for its controlling stake in its Reliance Infratel (RInfratel) tower unit, and that it would initiate due diligence and other processes at the earliest, in order to complete the transaction.
This is not the first time that the Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group (ADAG) has tried to find a buyer for its tower business and to sell a 26% stake in RCom.
RCom, the second largest telecom services provider in India, said in a statement that its board of directors had noted that "based on the indicative offers, completion of such a transaction would facilitate RCom's stated objectives of achieving a substantial reduction of its overall debt position, and staying well within its target long-term leverage ratios".
"Investors are advised that this is only a preliminary disclosure, and any such potential transaction is subject to appropriate due diligence, negotiations, documentation and approvals," the company said.
On Monday, RCom reported a 71% fall in full-year net profit due to lower earnings from its wireless and broadband business. The company has been reported a fall in net profit through seven consecutive quarters to date. For the fiscal year that ended on 31 March 2011, RCom's net profit fell to Rs1,346 crore from Rs4,655 crore, while total turnover, including wireless, global, broadband and its diversified business, rose 4.4% to Rs23,108 crore from Rs22,132 crore.
For FY12, RCom has given a guidance for capital expenditure (capex) of about Rs1,500 crore, mainly on its balance sheet constraints. "The huge debt on the balance sheet and impending foreign currency convertible bond (FCCB) redemption in FY12E leaves limited scope of further fund raising for additional capex. However, it comes as a positive for its peers (Bharti, Idea in the listed space) in the industry as there would be limited competitive intensity," Emkay Global Financial Services said in a research note.
As of 31st March, RCom had a net debt of Rs32,048.50 crore, while cash and cash equivalents stood at Rs5,327 crore. The Anil Dhirubhai Ambani Group company has been trying to sell its stake in RInfratel with an aim to lower its debt burden.
In June last year, GTL, RCom and RInfratel approved in principle a Rs50,000-crore merger deal to create the world's largest independent telecom infrastructure company. But the deal did not materialise. RCom's plan to sell its 26% stake, which was announced in June, has not worked out till date.
It seems that RCom's effort to sell its towers was nothing but an attempt to diversify part of its non-core business. Towers, unless rented out to other companies are nothing but dead assets for any company, especially for mobile operators, as they are a huge burden in terms of revenues. In the case of RCom, hiving off the tower business to another company and then selling it to other parties should be seen in this context.
There had been reports that American Tower Company (ATC), besides three other companies, had shown an interest in buying RCom's tower business. ATC evaluated RInfratel at between Rs18,000 crore and Rs20,000 crore.
In March 2011, RCom signed a Rs8,700-crore ($1.93 billion) facility with China Development Bank (CDB), which included Rs6,000 crore ($1.33 billion) for refinancing 3G spectrum fee payments and Rs2,700 crore ($600 million) for equipment imports from Chinese vendors like Huawei and ZTE. The aggregate financing has a maturity period of 10 years, contributing to significant extension of RCom's debt maturity profile, apart from substantial savings in interest costs. A syndicate of Chinese banks and financial institutions, including CDB, is funding the loan facility, which is fully underwritten by CDB.
Mukesh Ambani, elder brother of ADAG chief Anil Ambani, bought Infotel Broadband Services for Rs4,800 crore from the Nahatas of Himachal Futuristic Communication. A ready-made transmission towers network can play a major role in spearheading the broadband wireless access for Reliance Infotel, which was the only pan-India winner in the broadband wireless access (BWA) auction concluded last year. Both groups, belonging to Mukesh and Anil, have denied any discussions over any RInfratel stake deal.
The RCom stock closed at Rs89.40 on the Bombay Stock Exchange today, a gain of over 2%, in a generally positive market, with the benchmark Sensex gaining nearly 1.5% to 18,503 points.
Since January 2008, when it was at a high of Rs844, the RCom stock has lost a whopping 91% or Rs769 to Rs75 in March 2011. For it to reach its previous high, the stock would have to rally by 673%.
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