A lot of people are now asking me what would we do now that the RTI (Jaagruthi) Yathre is over and done with. Some have even questioned the wisdom of our walk and whether the effort was worth it.
Everyday, we receive more than 50 telephone calls at our RTI cell. Personally, I receive more than 15 calls each day from different parts of Karnataka. This definitely indicates that there are many people out there wanting to know more about this act, looking for guidance on how to use the act effectively, how to appeal when the PIOs do not respond. People call us to know if we can come and extend our activities in their areas, if we can train them and their teams to take on this task. Some have even asked us if they could join our crusade in some way.
A few senior government officials called me up and spoke to me. They wanted to know why I had got involved in such activism at this stage and how this could be the harbinger of pressure on the system. They politely discouraged me from taking this any further. Yesterday the local MLA called me and asked me why we were insistent that the people of the taluk take information on all ongoing schemes that were in different stages of implementation. He wanted to meet and get me to understand the difficulties that he was facing because of all this. I feel that all these are the beginning of change…the beginning of processes that will slowly and surely change the way governance is understood in this country.
We are now in the process of talking to some of the key people we met during the walk in the 115 villages that we traversed. In the month of December, a team of 4 persons will again travel by car through the same route and villages over a week and try and understand whether and how our yaathre has made any difference to people’s lives. We will also be training 2-3 youth in each Gram Panchayath, who will act as RTI resource persons in the taluk of Malavalli in Mandya district in December. They will then carry on the work. A local NGO will facilitate and lead this process.
In the month of January 09, we will train similar resource persons in the entire district of Gadag to make RTI a people’s movement there. This will again be coordinated by another local NGO. On the 12th of January, we will have another padayathra launched in the district of Bijapur. We will be launching it in the birthplace of Shri Basavanna who was responsible for the religious and cultural revolution a few centuries ago. We hope that this walk will be the beginning of the information and empowerment revolution.
We are also planning on an intensive 2-year long activity in H D Kote inself. We would like to make this a model taluk in terms of RTI awareness, usage of the act for development and for pre-empting corruption and also in social audit processes. We would like to usher in a new era of participatory democracy in the villages of H D Kote through this project.