RTI activist Subhas Agrawal is surprised that details of his query about Anna’s service with the army was sought to be misused by a ruling party spokesperson
The latest attempt by an embarrassed UPA government, to contain the protests that continue to build up in the movement for a strong anti-corruption law, has backfired. A Congress party spokesperson had challenged Anna Hazare's right to lead the fight against graft, citing alleged corruption charges against him, and claimed that Anna had refused to come clean on his army record, as was asked for in a query under the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
However, the reply that the RTI applicant received shows that Anna's army record is honourable and there is nothing more than what the 74-year-old Gandhian has claimed publicly.
Subhas Agrawal, the RTI activist who filed the query, is surprised over the episode. First, he is unable to understand how his correspondence with the Central Principal Information Officer (CPIO) was leaked out to Congress spokesperson Manish Tiwari. Second, the RTI application for which he received the reply was not filed by him.
"I have not received a reply to a query I filed on 13th April, in which I had asked six questions about Anna Hazare's army record and the qualifications required for recruitment of army drivers and cooks," said Mr Agrawal. "Instead, I received a reply to a 20th June query, which was not filed by me.
However, that application had eleven questions, on the same topics, and the reply to some of those questions shows that Anna Hazare had an unblemished career at the army and had won some medals before he was honourably discharged."
Kisan Baburao Hazare (who is today popularly addressed as Anna Hazare), as the Deputy Commandant & Appellate Authority ASC Centre (South), said in his reply to the 20th June query, that he joined the army as a sepoy in 1963, and was honourably discharged in 1983 on completion of his service. He received five medals, and did not suffer any punishment during his service period.
"I don't know who filed this query, but the reply was directed to me. May be it was a mistake on the department's part," said Mr Agrawal. To his original query, the CPIO had replied on 27th May that since the information sought pertains to a third party (Hazare), the CPIO had written to Mr Hazare to seek his permission for revealing his service details.
"But what surprised me more was that the CPIO's letter, that Mr Tiwari referred to in the 14th August press conference, was addressed to me in response to a petition, and I have no idea how he got hold of it." Since he hasn't received a reply for his 13th April query, Mr Agrawal has gone for an appeal.
In his appeal, Mr Agrawal has said, "I was shocked and surprised that the CPIO's said letter dated 21 May 2011 was referred to by a spokesperson of the ruling party in the Union Government in a press conference telecast by news channels, in a bid to defame Shri Kisan Baburao Hazare. I appeal that an enquiry may kindly be made as to how the said correspondence was leaked to a third party (ruling party spokesperson) without inviting objections from me, as is usually done by many public authorities including even the Central Information Commission."
The prime minister also underlined the need to focus on implementation and governance to improve effectiveness of the flagship programmes aimed at promoting inclusive growth
New Delhi: Amid global economic uncertainty, prime minister Manmohan Singh on Saturday said the government will have to take 'difficult decisions' to achieve 9% growth rate in the 12th Five Year Plan (2012-17), up from 8.2% estimated for the current plan, reports PTI.
"... 9% target (in 12th Plan) is feasible only if we can take some difficult decisions," Mr Singh said in his opening remarks at the meeting of the full Planning Commission here.
The meeting has been called to approve the approach paper for the 12th Five Year Plan.
The prime minister also underlined the need to focus on implementation and governance to improve effectiveness of the flagship programmes aimed at promoting inclusive growth.
"These (flagship) programmes will continue in the 12th Plan, but as the (approach) paper rightly emphasises, we need to focus on issues of implementation and governance to improve their effectiveness."
The prime minister also made a case for stepping up agriculture sector growth rate to 4% during the next plan saying it is necessary to avoid inflationary pressure and improve rural income.
India was growing by over 9% before the global financial crisis in 2008 pulled down the economic growth to 6.8% in 2008-09. The economy is likely to grow expand by 8% during 2010-11.
The agriculture sector is estimated to grow by 3.3% during the current plan period (2007-12).
"I am happy to inform members that although the approach paper talks of achieving 3% agricultural growth in the Eleventh Plan ... the latest estimates suggest that this will be 3.3%," Mr Singh said.
Agriculture contributes about 14%-15% to the country's gross domestic product (GDP).
The commission had examined the range of 9%-9.5% for economic growth during the 12th Plan and it proposed that the government should set the target at 9%.
Mr Singh further said that achieving 9% growth will require large investments in the infrastructure sector.
The global markets are in a tailspin amid concerns over euro zone debt troubles and their impact on banks, weak economic data in the US and other parts of the world.
On the domestic front, while high inflation is the biggest concern for the government, the industry has expressed worries over rising interest rates.
The approach paper notes that India was 'fairly successful' during the 11th Plan in using a combination of public investment and public private partnerships for infrastructure development.
"We need to bring greater momentum to both these components so that present infrastructure shortages can be addressed in the shortest time available," Mr Singh said.
Noting that land acquisition has become 'highly controversial', Mr Singh said the approach paper rightly argues that a new legislation is required to deal with the situation.
The paper points out that the new legislation should strike a balance between the need for fair compensation and the need to ensure that land acquisition does not become an 'impossible impediment' to meet the needs for infrastructure development, industrial expansion and urbanisation.
The prime minister said that health, education and skill development were key areas of the strategy of inclusive development in the current plan and they will continue to be focus areas in the next as well.
Mr Singh said the Planning Commission has rightly endorsed the importance of the process of fiscal correction announced by the government, even if this means that total resources available for the plan in the short run will be limited.
"Resource limitations imply the need to priorities carefully. Some priority areas like health, education and infrastructure will have to be funded more than others," he said.
Thousands of people continue to come out in respose to Anna Hazare's call for a strong anti-corruption law. Here are some voices from the movement
Post on Facebook: 02261550789 call this no. and support anti-corruption ... (there are no calling charges)
Kiran Bedi, Team Anna (on Twitter): Our PM defends his stand on lokpal by reading a speech. Anna needs no paper. Why?
Shabhana Azmi, actress (on Twitter): People are feeling that they matter which is great, but for real change to occur it needs sustained involvement which is in short supply.
Rahul Bajaj, industrialist and member of the Rajya Sabha (to CNN-IBN): First, the arrest of Anna Hazare and Team Anna is very unfortunate. Second, what I find is that on the one side, there is the government and on the other side, there is the civil society, lots of people are on the civil society side and for understandable reasons, the opposition is supporting them too.
In Lucknow, doctors write out anti-graft message (11:38)
Lucknow, Aug 20 (IANS) Doctors in the Uttar Pradesh state capital are expressing solidarity with social activist Anna Hazare in a novel way - they are printing pro-Anna messages on their prescriptions and diagnostic reports.
Kiran Mazumdar Shaw, chairman, Biocon (on Twitter): The government is committing political harakiri-as they say, if you are in a hole, stop digging! Prime minister can say what he wants, but he has lost credibility with people. Effective execution has always been the bane of our well intended policies. PM's words are of no avail-he has unfortunately lost credibility-his statement is a case of too little too late.
Rajeev Sardesai (on Twitter): Also meet our citizens against corruption as part of CNN-IBN's bribe bandh campaign. 9.30 pm tonight.
Harsh Mariwala, chairman, Marico Industries, and also chairman of the Federation of Indian Chambers of Commerce and Industry (to Business Standard): Anna Hazare is a symbol. The fight is a bigger one on corruption. When you lose faith in the entire system, it becomes difficult for the common man to have confidence in the political establishment. But a Lokpal Bill alone cannot solve all the problems. There has to be a much bigger overhaul of all discretionary powers.
Amitabh Bachchan (on Twitter): No one wants corruption in society and governance. To protest peacefully our constitutional right. The law of the land must prevail!
Narayana Murthy, who retires from Infosys on Saturday, said in an interview to the Hindustan Times.
Q: There are two drafts for the Lokpal Bill, one by Anna Hazare and the other by the government. Which one do you support?
A: I think, given the fact that we have an extraordinary person as a prime minister and Mr Anna Hazare is another extraordinary person, I do believe that it would be possible for these two extraordinary people to come to a conclusion that will enhance the enthusiasm and optimism of the country in solving the form of poverty, so I am quite optimistic.
Anupam Kher, actor: The MOST important thing in our lives is what we are doing NOW. This anti-corruption movement has also brought a great sense of pride of being an INDIAN in us. Look at that sea of flags. JAI HO.
Vijay Mallya, promoter, Kingfisher group (on Twitter): Let's not be bogged down with scams by a few. Let's hold our heads high and focus on the numerous reasons we have to be proud independent Indians.
Jan Lokpal Bill Anthem: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=de_wiiTKUu0
Chetan Bhagat: What is lost is people's faith in Parliament. That needs to be restored. Slamming Anna won't do it.
Priyanka Chopra, actress (on Twitter): The kurukshetra of the war against corruption shifts to Ramlila Maidan! God and India is with YOU, Anna!
Telugu film industry extends support to Hazare
Telugu film industry members on Friday took out a rally and observed a day-long fast demanding that the Jan Lokpal bill by Team Anna be tabled in parliament.
Actors, producers, directors, writers, artists and workers from various units of the industry joined hands to express their solidarity with Hazare, who is leading the fight against corruption. The film personalities took out a peace rally from the office of the Andhra Pradesh Film Chamber of Commerce in Film Nagar to express their support for Hazare and his team.
Eminent filmmaker and former union minister Dasari Narayana Rao, actor couple Jeevitha and Rajasekhar, actor Mohan Babu and others participated. Some participants had black ribbons tied across their mouths, others carried placards.
"We support Anna Hazare and his aides fighting against corruption. There is no alternative to a comprehensive Jan Lokpal Bill," said actress Jeevitha. She demanded every politician, including the prime minister, must be brought under the purview of the Lokpal.
"We are in a situation where nobody is above board. The public perception is that 80% to 90% politicians are corrupt and hence there is every need to make all politicians accountable," she said.
@atulkasbekar (on Twitter): U may not agree wt Anna's ideology or his methods. That's fine. BUT U CANNOT TAKE AWAY HIS RIGHT TO PEACEFUL PROTEST! #isupportAnnaHazare.
@LON3WOLF (on Twitter): On 15th Aug, we got our independence and on 16th Aug the Indian Government took it away x-( #isupportannahazare.
Shah Rukh Khan supports anti-corruption stir
PTI: Bollywood superstar Shah Rukh Khan has supported the anti-corruption movement launched by Anna Hazare, but says every aspect of the cause should be looked at seriously.
"I think we all support the cause. I think there should be no corruption in the country. I think this whole aspect is becoming so large and so big and there are so many aspects of it that we need to look at it seriously, quietly, step-backedly. We just can't keep saying we support anti-corruption," said Khan.
Khan, 45, said a legislation to curb corruption should be implemented after holding discussions with all concerned.
"All of us want to support anti-corruption. It's the worst kind of stigma that one can have for the country. But this wonderful cause has so many aspects too it... I think as an intelligent section of society, we have to think about the implementation of it. What are the constitutional aspects of it? What are the parliamentarian processes of the same? What is the practicality of the same, how is it going to happen.
"Unless we do that, we just keep talking about it, we just keep doing agitations. We should think how to take the best out of it so that it does not die out. That's the second step," he said.
Captain CY Gopinath, aviation entrepreneur (to CNN-IBN): All of us must come forward and give ourselves a better institution, including the business people. Though I may benefit sometimes because I am in a position to bribe and get things done, I think society will not last with corruption… I have compromised sometimes, unfortunately, which we should not. Corporate bigwigs should have come voluntarily. They have not been speaking openly and clearly.
Indian-Americans come out in support of Anna Hazare
WASHINGTON (PTI) Coming out in support of Anna Hazare, Indian-Americans have appealed to the Indian government to take serious steps to curb the menace of corruption in the country.
"We NRIs want to remove corruption out of India. We support Anna Hazare's efforts to eradicate the corruption, pass Lokpal Bill and declare black money as national assets," said Dnyanoba Kendre, a yoga teacher from Pennsylvania.
Of all the protests in India in recent times, this is the most legitimate and at the grass root-level, that can change the fate of the country, said Rangarajan, a student from the University of Maryland.
Another student, Umang Agarawal, said they are emailing Supreme Court en mass directly to take suo moto action and save the nation.
"More than Indians fighting against corruption, it seems government is fighting against people who are fighting against corruption. This is going to be one of the watershed moments of Indian history," said Vibhash Jha, a PhD student at the University of Maryland.
Indian-Americans in and from around Washington held a demonstration in front of the Indian embassy. Similar events in support of Hazare have been reported from various parts of the country.
A large number of Indian-Americans held a similar protest demonstration outside the Indian Consulate in Houston.
"We NRIs in Houston feel connected to the movement in India and are expressing support in several forms like Facebook, Twitter, Google, websites, in addition to our presence at local gatherings around apartments, club houses, public parks and other community places," said Raghava R Solipuram.
Shocked and saddened by the arrest of Hazare and his supporters, Non-Resident Indians for Secular and Harmonious India (NRI-SAHI) said Indian-Americans support the demand of Team Anna to bring everyone under the Jan Lokpal Bill.