Yes, that is what RTI [Right to Information] is all about!  If you see a pothole around where you stay, you either fill it up 😉 or ask the concerned system why they are not doing so? Doing neither, cribbing about it, whining about your taxes going waste and saying ‘India is like that’ won’t get you anywhere 😀

I have always been amazed by the power of RTI and more so now, thanks to the various eminent RTI activists I get to meet. When they share success stories and give you examples from everyday lives in which RTI can prove to be a powerful tool, it cannot *not* inspire you to take a step forward. I thought I should share the gyaan with all of you and am sure you will feel the need to and file atleast one RTI after seeing how not-so-complex it is to do so 🙂 And if you still need help, I can definitely connect you to people who will be more than pleased to offer the same.

Let us start with a few success stories to motivate us enough to read through the long post 😛 These are cases were people were able to break into the system and get the required info.

  • IIM admission criteria – Yes! IIMs never revealed their admission criteria, till an RTI query was filed and the same were out! More here.
  • Cut-off for IIT-JEE – Again, thanks to RTI, the answer keys and OMR sheets of all the students were published on the website.
  • Misuse of Maharastra CM relief fund – 6 MLAs got 2lakh gift for their daughters’ weddings, 8 lakhs to send their children to Carrom tournament in Belgium and so on. An IBNLive report here.
  • Disappearance of funds donated by Coal India Ltd. to PM Relief Fund – 12 crore by salary deduction and the PMO said it had not reached them at all. More here.
  • RBI guidelines on faulty ATM withdrawals – There were no rules in case of faulty withdrawals! A person filed RTI and forced RBI to make norms. Now, banks must pay Rs100 a day penalty for delay in reimbursement for failed ATM transactions, beyond 7 days. More here
  • Misuse of Red Cross funds – used for buying mementos for ministers, diesel for their cars, lunch for their families and so on 😐 More here
  • Vehicle log books of ministers – 800-900 kms per day; A certain director’s car – house within campus had clocked 6K kms per month !! A govt car in school – dropped, waited for the classes to get over and took the child back home, every single day!! – but the milometer showed 4K kms.
  • People have even filed RTIs about the attendance of cabinet ministers – they were not seen during the session, but had claimed TA-DA.

If you have been feeling that the above cases are far away from our day-to-day problems, here are few examples of RTIs filed by the common man to fix his common problems.

  • The youngest RTI applicant, 9 yo Pranav filed an RTI about his lost cycle.
  • Another 13 yo girl filed an RTI as to why she had not received the scholarship announced in her name even after 6 months of it being announced. More here. [She was the youngest till Pranav filed one]
  • 87 Delhi govt. school kids filed multiple RTIs to get facilities to their school! Isn’t that amazing?
  • One of the oldest RTI applicants – an 82 yr lady to RPO, Hyderabad.

Like I said before, RTI is all about questioning the system and schemes. Here are a few pointers which will help you in doing the same. YOU MUST MUST MUST KNOW THESE! In some cases, all you need is to raise your voice, not even file an application.

Government matters

  • Stamp papers – Anybody selling them for more than what they are to be sold for, please please question him! He is not supposed to do that – his earning is not by the extra you pay him, but what the system pays him for stocking them! You don’t even need to file an RTI here, all you need to do is question him!
  • Fire prevention in schools/ offices etc.. – An RTI activist told us he filed a simple RTI regarding the height of the ladder with the fire police in a certain locality, and was shocked to know if was far less than the height of the tallest building there ❗
  • PPP [Public-Private partnership] projects – He gave us a shocking example of daylight robbery. Washi bridge was built in 1982 and 532 crores were spent for construction, But even after many years and thus the expiry of the contract, they kept collecting toll accounting to 1800 crores in all! The number of people collecting toll on some highways are so many, that you sure have to doubt and question them as to how many of them actually have a contract with them.
  • Similar applies to parking lots. Most parking lots which collect money from you have just got a book of tickets printed and are looting us so easily! File an RTI and find out which are the official parking lots, and in the meanwhile please ask them for their contract before they tear away a ticket and charge you for it!

Social welfare schemes

Now this example shocked and saddened me to no end. Andhra Pradesh has largest no. of hysterectomy cases – because doctors get to earn 45k under Aarogyasri scheme. 38k removals were reported last year, with almost anybody above 25yrs being the prey 😦

General Public Good – Question question question!

Already mentioned a few of these before:

  • Parking lots and fees
  • Toll collection on highways
  • Goods sold above MRP in theaters and public places – Nowhere is it written that they can do so!!
  • New LPG connections, renewal taking 10 days and telling you that you have to buy a new gas stove to buy a gas cylinder – Again, nowhere mentioned!
  • Expenditure on road maintenance – File an RTI and ask them why they are not widening your lane or filling those potholes?
  • Many people have also filed RTIs after having seen that pension offices and certain departments for the physically handicapped lie on 2nd floors and above!

I had reviewed a book last November, in which 26/11 martyr Ashok Kamte’s wife had effectively utilized RTI to get all the info about the role he and Karkare and Salaskar had played in the attacks. There are so many such cases which can ensure you that RTI can play a significant role in solving those mysteries which boggle your minds!

If you want more details, you can refer to http://www.rtiindia.org/ – The person behind the initiative is the one who shared all the above gyaan with us 🙂

You can also check out RTIAnonymous. Here is a brief about them from their site:

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 much as he/she can and the RTI Anonymous community will take care of the rest.

Hope to see you back with answers in hand, and a smile on you 🙂 Happy RTI-ing 😀

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