Friday, August 19, 2011

Rise and Raise your voice against Corruption

I have been gone for a whole six months now. Now that I am back, I will tell you a story.

It was Aug 2007. My family had just moved to our new flat in a very calm and quiet area of Bangalore (yes, there exists such a place!). We were the first occupants in our 70+ flats apartment complex. Having moved from Jayanagar, where everything was a stone's throw away, we thought it was only matter of days to get our BSNL connection transferred and installed at our house and get Internet connection in the new house. Little did we know that we would be fighting a long battle against the system and against corruption.

My brother, father and I started making routine visits to the nearest BSNL office for connection. We gave an application and were told that they were short of cables and couldn't service our request and that we had to wait. My brother went to the Regional BSNL office and met the officer and told him how important it is to have a phone connection, since Airtel, Reliance hadn't started their service in our area back then and he needed Internet connection for his study related activities and his sister is a software engineer and needs to work from home. After couple of months, the update was that BSNL didn't have permission for road cutting in order to lay down the cable, hence we had to wait. Adter some more time, it was back to 'no cable' and 'no BBMP permission for road cutting'. We asked them give it in writing.

1 year had passed. After going from pillar to post, we were thoroughly harassed. Bangalore is the IT capital, the Silicon Valley of India with all amenities and services. It was ridiculous that we couldn't get a BSNL connection for our home. We consulted our uncle who is a prominent lawyer in Karnataka High Court. He asked us to provide him with all the documents and he got the case ready. Finally we filed a case against BSNL in the consumers forum. When the case was to come for hearing, we posted an RTI application to BSNL asking for status of the work(asked specific questions seeking answers). In a month, we got a lame reply from BSNL. Our uncle included that in his arguments and the judge fined BSNL and asked it to pay us Rs. 7,500 for the delay. Within a week, we got our BSNL connection.

RTI application is truly empowering. We didn't bribe the officials with a single rupee(maybe that's why they didn't give a connection for more than a year). Our complaints had fallen on deaf ears. No action was taken on erring officers. If a powerful Jan Lokpal bill was there, maybe our  voice would have been heard sooner.

Friends, it's truly a fight for our rights. Right to get a phone connection without having to bribe someone. Right  to get a gas connection, a ration card and documents from government offices without having to face harassment. And if harassed it is our right to be heard. These officers are people working for US. Let us show solidarity in our fight against corruption and fast once a day.

P.S.: Prof J Ram asked us in class today, 'how many of you are fasting?'. No one answered. He said, 'guys, it's not bad to skip a meal to show support. It's even healthy'. I was ashamed. Now on, I am involving myself in the fight against corruption. Maybe once we get a bill of the people, for the people and by the people, our country might be a better place to live.

1 comment:

Raveesh Kumar said...

Power of RTI - good to hear that!