Nation Current Affairs 13 May 2018 Need to hit streets ...

Need to hit streets again over RTI: Aruna Roy

Published May 13, 2018, 1:53 am IST
Updated May 13, 2018, 1:53 am IST
Aruna Roy (Photo: PTI)
 Aruna Roy (Photo: PTI)

HYDERABAD: “Hamara Paisa, Hamara Hisaab’ has become the anti-corruption chant which began with a woman in Beerawar, Rajasthan. She also said that she would always ask her son for a receipt even for Rs 10, so why should a government spend billions of rupees on her account and not reveal the details of expenses?” asked Aruna Roy speaking at the soft launch of The RTI Stories authored by her along with the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) collective.

Ms Roy, who left the Indian Administrative Service in 1975 to co-found the MKSS collective, spoke about the celebrated Right to Information movement that encourages transparency in democracy. 

“A democracy runs on the collective effort and we should stop believing that one important and powerful man will lead us to salvation. In a democracy, it is not important how much a political party does for us but whether they will listen to us. We cannot go on a hunger strike for our medication, housing and wages. It is our right and has to come to us,” Ms Roy said.

Speaking about elections to this newspaper Ms Roy said: “In a democracy, everything begins and ends with the ballot. However, now with the talk of EVM and tampering, we have to go beyond the vote and there is a need for participatory democracy. We need issue-based elections and not smearing of candidates based on their behaviour. Our debates have become so petty and elections have changed tremendously from what it was. It has moved on to people from ideas.”

An example of the lack of usage of the Act was quoted by Ms Roy when she said that not many RTIs were raised questioning why demonetisation was not brought to the public domain and asked why it was put on an unsuspecting public causing the ruin of so many small entrepreneurs, large business and the life of nearly 1.3 billion people? 

“Although nearly 300 RTI applications are filed on an hourly basis in India, we are stuck questioning. We need to step out of the same and our armchair activism,” she said.

Regarding the rejection of RTIs, when information is sought from the UIDAI, she said: “A lot of information is blocked from us and we need to hit the streets again, demanding for our rights. We need a campaign all over again following our history.” 

Speaking about the large number of deaths of RTI activists, she said: “We are constantly raising our voices but we need more public voices. As per rules, if an RTI activist is murdered, the information he/she sought should be made public immediately but the reversal is done and that needs to change to stop the hunt for RTI Activists.” 

Ms Roy also added that a lot is lost to the country and the world because activists do not keep a diary. She ended her talk by stating that people have to combat fear and speak out for justice.

“Awards and recognition is an occupational hazard. Being in the limelight is not the concern. What matters is whether an issue is addressed? Each time someone gets killed, I fight because it is my obligation. We can't just wish for a better India. We need to fight for it. Million mutinies will make a difference to the Nation,” Ms Roy said.

Location: India, Telangana, Hyderabad


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