If one is afraid of being targeted after filing a RTI application, the online RTI Anonymous team is there to help you out. Nineteen year old Rajeshwar Boke from Maharashtra procured details of his educational scholarship amount with help from RTI Anonymous
Rajeshwar Boke is a 19 year old boy belonging to OBC (Other Backward Classes). He is presently studying in the second year in the Government Polytechnic College in Brahmapuri, a town in Chandrapur district of Maharashtra. Being an OBC, he is entitled to a central government scholarship for all the three years of the course. However, he has been receiving a partial amount of scholarship money since the last one year.
In January 2012, Rajeshwar decided to use the Right to Information (RTI) Act to find out the status of his scholarship but did not know how to go about it. He began surfing the Internet for help and stumbled upon RTI Anonymous—a free online service through which any Indian citizen can file RTI applications anonymously. He called up Ritesh Singh, one of the three founders of RTI Anonymous to know how to use the service. Mr Singh obliged. So, Rajeshnwar filed his RTI application to the college as well as to the social welfare department which disburses the scholarship money.
Says Rajeshwar, “My suspicion about whether I was getting the right amount or not, came when the college for the first time started the online form system for admission. While I was filling up the form I saw that the annual scholarship amount mentioned therein were Rs3,880 for the first year; Rs4,200 for the second year; and Rs6,700 for the third year. However, I had received only Rs1,500 for the first year.”
After filing the RTI application, Rajeshwar received a fake reply from his college and was rebuked for having invoked the RTI Act. Instead of addressing his question of how much is the scholarship amount for students and how much is he entitled to, the college gave him a document of some general rules of the college. He though did not relent.
Ritesh Singh advised him to file a first appeal with the department of social welfare. Recently, the department ordered the college to make the scholarship amount public. Accordingly, the college provided him the information free of charge, as directed by the appellate authority. Says Mr Singh, “Rajeshwar got all the desired information and found serious irregularities in the scholarship disbursal in his college because of which he wasn’t getting the full amount of his scholarship. He forced the authorities to correct the irregularities benefiting hundreds of poor students in his college.” Mr Singh says Rajeshwar was in an emotional turmoil while filing his RTI as he was afraid that the college might take revenge on him by giving him less marks in some subjects but nonetheless he decided to pursue and that has been his secret of success.
As per a news report in the New Indian Express wherein the newspaper invoked RTI, there are 2.1 lakh beneficiaries of central government scholarship to poor students in Karnataka and the amount involved is Rs10.58 crore. However, only 44% of the money has been disbursed.
There are complaints from hundreds of students in Uttar Pradesh (UP) who have not received scholarships or have received only partial amounts. The educational institutions, in which they study, do not bother to address these complaints. Hence, it is advisable that students in large numbers should file a RTI application. This will form a pressure group and steadily every educational institution will be compelled to give the appropriate money and the social welfare department will be forced to release the money which it sometimes does not.
What is RTI Anonymous?
RTI Anonymous is an online service, through which any Indian citizen can file Right to Information (RTI) applications anonymously. They DO NOT HAVE TO REVEAL THEIR IDENTITY. The RTI Anonymous community will file those RTI applications in their name and upload the documents obtained as a reply on this website. The original requester will get an email when this happens. The original requester just has to draft the RTI application as best as he/she can and the RTI Anonymous community will take care of the rest.
How Does RTI Anonymous Work
Step 1: So person A, who is based in say, Kanpur has a problem with a particular road in his locality and needs to file a RTI Request. He submits a request to RTI Anonymous, with the details of the Public Information officer and his set of questions.
Step 2: An expert in drafting RTI (in our case, for example, an ex-PIO and retired registrar from Bangalore or a RTI Activist in Pune) will draft the RTI. Few other experts in drafting RTIs based either in different parts of India or concerned NRIs from different parts of the world, review and draft the RTI.The RTI request is then moved to the Drafted RTI Request category. If the experts decide that the request is frivolous or does not need anonymity or just too vague and needs more information, then its moved to its appropriate category (Non RTI, Non-Anonymous RTI or unclear RTI category).
Step 3: Once drafted, a concerned citizen from say, Chennai takes a printout of this drafted RTI and puts in the IPO for the required amount and speed posts it.He then updates the website with the speed post number.
The RTI Request is now moved to the Filed RTIs category.
Step 4: Once the Chennai guy receives the reply, he just takes a picture of the documents received with his cell phone or digital camera, uploads its to his PC and then to the website. At times, he just does a normal post to one of the RTI Anonymous’s core team member and they would then upload these documents to the website.
Step 5: Once uploaded, the original requestor (from Kanpur or wherever) gets an automated email and he can then download the documents that he had recieved.
Also any public interest litigation (PIL) lawyers or journalists/reporters can also download these documents from this website.
All done by REAL PEOPLE with REAL ADDRESSES
(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])
Almost all major democracies have created agencies to tackle transnational terrorism. This has been done within the framework of their federal structures, placing national security concerns above partisan politics. So, what are our state leaders squawking about?
“In the room, the women come and go, talking of Michelangelo”—T S Eliot, Love song of Alfred Prufrock
I am blinded. A wave of blood drenches me, my spectacles and my eyes. A flying, bodiless arm smashes into my face and I stagger backwards. As I fall, a slice of shrapnel from the terrorist bomb pierces my stomach. Incredible pain. Intolerable pain. I collapse. Unconscious. But I am alive. Not so the fifty others that the bomb ripped apart.
This is not an eye-witness account of a terrorist attack in Mumbai, or Delhi, or Chennai or Hyderabad. It is a victim-witness account which makes us wail “how long, O Lord, how long must we suffer these cowardly killings of innocents?
We the people of India have to suffer as long as the politicians of all parties continue to waffle about police powers and trading on federalist toes; as long as concrete heads refuse to accept that the country needs a central organisation specially designed and trained to counter terrorism and catch terrorists before they attack.
I do not think many of us citizens, including me, are clear about the states’ objections to the National Counter Terrorism Centre (NCTC). Are they really so serious that it takes voting in the Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha and a realignment of political forces?
Whatever they are, we know who is to be blamed if terrorists attack in the near future and more innocents are murdered. We will blame Mamata Banerjee and Jayalalitha, who has filed a case against the NCTC in the Madras High Court, all the political parties that want the NCTC thrown out, baby and bathwater, and the UPA for not moving quickly enough to change the structure of the NCTC to satisfy the states’ demands.
“Not all the perfumes of Arabia” can wash their hands of the blood of the innocents.
Anil Chowdhry, former secretary, internal security, ministry of home affairs, provided a solution and a proper perspective on the NCTC in a recent article.
He said anyone who has dealt with or understands internal security issues will tell you that the National Counter Terrorism Centre is imperative. Such a body is required to meet the growing threat of terrorist violence which recognises neither national nor international boundaries.
He suggested the prime minister should perhaps drop the police role of the NCTC, leaving it free to focus its energies on intelligence gathering, coordination and operations. Under the Constitution, law and order and policing are the responsibility of the state governments. But at the time the Constitution was framed there were no organised terrorist groups of the kind operating globally today. The worst the police had to handle was violence driven by communal forces or political ideology. Now it is quite different.
As Chowdhry pointed out, almost all major democracies have created agencies to tackle transnational terrorism. This has been done within the framework of their federal structures, placing national security concerns above partisan politics.
So, what are our state leaders squawking about? Haven’t they heard of Nero fiddling while Rome burnt?
(R Vijayaraghavan has been a professional journalist for more than four decades, specialising in finance, business and politics. He conceived and helped to launch Business Line, the financial daily of The Hindu group. He can be contacted at [email protected].)
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