Monthly Meeting

We meet every 3rd Sunday from 11 AM to 1.30 PM at Upper Ashankur Hall , Holy Family Church , Andheri East.
Meet us there to join us!

Monday, May 5, 2008

A group of alert citizens use the Right to Information Act to change their little world

You pinch the administration and they will respond. The RTI act has kept hope alive.”RAVI NAIR
RIGHT TO KNOW : MUMBAI - MAHARASHTRAFire StarterA group of alert citizens use the Right to Information Act to change their little worldBy Kimi Dangor
“To change the system, you must penetrate it,” says 23-year-old Muringathery Sebastian Varghese, seated in a tiny tenement in Bhamanpuri village in Mumbai. As youth president of his church, this mechanical engineering student has discovered a weapon that will help him understand and navigate this system better. “The Right to Information Act is like a brahmastra,” chimes Pramod Sawant, 25, an employee with a media group. It’s a national holiday, August 15, but the two young men have dutifully turned up for the Action for Good Governance for Networking in India (AGNI) and Active Alert Citizen’s Forum meeting. Seated around a small room lined with yellowed newspaper clippings are also social activists James John, Ravi Nair, Ashok Pai, Sheeba Nair, Walter Noronha and Melwyn D’Costa among others, united by a cause that goes deeper than just celebrating the country’s independence. Export manager Ravi Nair, 31, says, “For activism, you need passion.” As the Andheri K-East ward coordinator for agni, a non-political, non-sectarian voluntary movement for good governance, he should know. The ward is not only the biggest but also the most active one in Mumbai, holding discussions on topics ranging from concretising roads and activating water connections to removing drainage blocks and illegal hoardings.
Presiding over this motley group is John, 38, a former naval officer and handball player. “When I joined the Indian Navy in 1988, Mumbai was a different city—we had playgrounds and footpaths. When I returned to the city in 2002, the footpaths had disappeared and open spaces had been encroached upon, ” he says. Letters of protest gave way to activism as he became a member of AGNI K-East Jaag and co-founded the Active
Alert Citizen’s Forum. Today, a dedicated group of nearly 25 members keeps track of the 15 area corporators’ funds, and gets anumber of things done, like clearing clogged sewage drains, installing water pipelines, preventing illegal tree-cutting and water theft. All with the help of RTI Act. Meeting once a month, the group perseveres despite physical threats and attacks. They pool in to print a newsletter that has a column dedicated to the Act with explanatory case-studies. John and his band of K-ward activists are always at the forefront of civic benefit. “The administration knows that we will keep following up. You pinch and they will respond. The RTI Act has kept hope alive,” asserts Nair. And AGNI

No comments: