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Archive for the ‘myworld’ Category

New Masthead

Hi everyone, I am changing my masthead. A colorful pretty pic of the blogger just doesn’t feel right. Its too personal. And the whole point of internet is to get impersonal anyway. So now I am sporting this semi-abstract photograph collage thing I just came up with. I want to replace my b/w photo with some kinda cartoon character and a coffee cup too. Maybe later.

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I bought this new pen and touch device to help me draw on computer..Gone are the days of pen and paper 🙂

Its active area is A5 and the model with both pen and multi touch costs around 7k. For more info : Wacom site

A few sketches I made in Adobe Photo shop just after I bought this..ain’t it cool? 🙂

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Mining scam, CWG scam, Adarsh scam, 2G scam, Land scam. Huh. Assholes loot our money. We complain. Police take quick action and all the assholes go to jail. Right?

No?

Then read on.

The RTI act puts people in the most powerful position. And  because of that, we need to learn how to use it properly. Here I make no attempt whatsoever to explain RTI or its implications. Instead, I will just guide you through the processes that I went through before I learnt how to file an RTI application.

Just to know how powerful this act is, consider the following. Using this act, you can check the documents in any govt office, you can get an expert and inspect the quality of a road construction. You get all the info u need in 30 days. Plus you need not provide any reason for getting these Info. You could be checking the municipality financial documents for fun. For all this power, all you need is a name, contact address, Indian citizenship and awareness about RTI. Needless to say, I focus on the last point.

Step 1: You want some info from Govt.

Let me give an example scenario to make things simple. Say, you feel like the high rise apartment building you are living in Bangalore was constructed, flouting several regulations. You are not sure about this and wanna get to the bottom of this. There you go. You have enough reason to file an RTI request.

Step 2: Read the RTI Act.

Of course. There is no way around this. The full text is posted in the chief information commissioner’s(CIC) website: Read RTI Act

The language is surprisingly simple to understand for a layman.

Step 3: From which Govt Authority should you get the info?

A public information officer(PIO) post is created in every govt department under the RTI act to handle the RTI applications. This position is usually just another responsibility of an existing officer. For the case mentioned in Step 1, you have to approach BBMP (Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike) for the documents you want. So you address your application to PIO of BBMP.

Step 4: Do you really have the right to that particular information?

Under the RTI act, Indian citizens have the right to access the information about the decisions that are made by govt officials supposedly to serve them. But of course, Govt can’t give away the defence secrets to any ordinary citizen. Neither the trade secrets of public sector companies can be given. So obviously there are some reservations made about WHAT can be accessed. Make sure that the info you want does not fall into the category of exceptions mentioned in Section 8 of RTI Act.

Step 5: Getting the specifics.

Know what you are doing. In your application, specify the exact documents you want. So instead of requesting for “All the relevant documents” be more specific like “ Sanction plan,  Inspection report by Engineer” etc. This reduces the chances of getting a reply that sounds like  “Could you please be more specific” and the concomitant wastage of time. If you are not knowledgeable enough to be that specific, try to get help. A few websites that can help you are given at the end.

Step 6: Send the application- click here to download sample application

Experts suggest that you always send the application by registered post. This avoids possible arguments with officials. And they cannot not accept it. The sample application provided hopefully helps since there is no standard format given by CIC.

Step 7: What to expect after sending it?

In case you have sent it to the wrong department  by mistake, it’s the duty of the PIO or pass it to the concerned Dept and thus don’t worry about getting a reply like “This information is not under my responsibility”. Once the post reached PIO, reply should come within 30 days and if not, you can assume that the application is rejected. Go to step 10 in that case.

Once the application reaches the PIO, he/she will send you a calculation sheet providing the details of the additional money you have to pay (eg. Rs 2 per an A4 size sheet, cost of CDs etc). Please note that the information in electronic format are not certified and thus cannot be produced in the court of law as evidence. So in case the document you need is too big say 1000 pages, instead of paying 2000 rupees for the xerox paper document, get it as email/CD. Read and identify the relevant portions and get only those pages as certified hard copy.

Step 8: What not to expect?

Govt officials are expected only to provide information that are existing in the required format. In other words, if a 1000 page document does not exist in electronic format, you cannot expect them to make it electronic for you.(Come on..Nobody is gonna sit and type it for you). In such a case, the best option will be “inspection”. You can request for right to inspect the document. Then the xerox of relevant pages can be taken.

Step 9: No reply?

Under the act, it means the application is rejected. They may send you the grounds on which it is rejected. If not, complain to CIC before going to any court. If you are not happy with the grounds with which your application is rejected, complain to CIC before going to any court. From whatever research I have done, this step is quite rare. 🙂

Step 10: Why does RTI work?

Penalty for providing wrong information or rejecting information for invalid reasons are quite harsh. PIOs will have to pay fine from their pockets for messing things up. RTI activists say this has happened several times and officials are quite afraid of RTI now and are generally very careful.

P.S: Since RTI applications irritate assholes, there’s good chance that you may get harassed/disturbed. Since you provide contact details and address in the application you could get a threatening call or a visit from one asshole contractor or two. You might as well remember that so far about ten RTI activists were killed in India. Even though this shows that the act is quite powerful, make sure you are surrounded by friends or associated with some organization before ruffling some hi profile feathers.

References: RTI Workshop by renowned RTI Activist Veeresh Bellur at the CSM-IYCN Office,Hidden Nest, Leonard lane, off Richmond Rd, Bangalore.

http://rti.gov.in/

http://cic.gov.in/

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God’s own nagging question!

To find out why, all u have to do is to stay in Kerala and follow state news for just two weeks.

After my final year project, I had exactly two weeks at home  before I go to work. And I did just that.

When I began, the hottest news was an ongoing rabble between the Left govt in Kerala and NHAI. Apparently the NHAI wants to increase the width of national highways in Kerala to 60m. A noble cause indeed. Obviously, the Left govt said NO. Getting out of the reflux response, they later said this: NO, increase width only to 30m. But according to NHAI 30m wouldn’t qualify so much as an NH and therefore was unacceptable. Mind you, its very difficult to get land to increase road width in a state of such population density, especially when an average Malayalee spends the wealth of his lifetime building  garish bungalows right next to a highway (Its illegal to build it on the highways). But the govt doesnt want 60m width even on areas where it is actually possible. This probably is due to the Kerala CM’s latest finding: “Roads are actually not that important for industrial development”.(Yup..He said this). Anyways the row was finally settled for a 45m road width and don’t even dare to ask what the existing width of a highway in Kerala is.

Right after the fight for narrow roads were won, came another blow. Straight from HC, an order essentially attacking everything that a mallu stands for. The HC order banned people gathering on public roads causing inconvenience to passengers. So if anyone wants a public gathering, they should arrange it in open grounds or halls. Not on roads, disrupting traffic. But how are we supposed to protect our right to strike/protest/dharna/hartaal/bandh without gathering on roads??. In fact causing inconvenience to the public is kinda the whole point of all these. Judges must be kidding. This was exactly what some of the ruling MLAs and ministers thought. They wasted no time before gathering on roads, publicly discrediting the judges by even calling them names. Lets just say I improved my Malayalam vocab.

Fight against foolish HC judgments itself would have occupied the news longer. But sadly we were distracted by an even bigger scam. Fuel price hike. Traditionally in Kerala after a fuel price hike, the next working day will be a hartaal. Thus came the first govt sponsored hartaal of the academic year. Ppl celebrated the holiday in their homes drinking and watching TV. What the Govt din realize was that this was a national issue. So of course there would be one more national level bandh by BJP and Left. Big question was, should Kerala now be excluded from Bharat Bandh? Considering that there was only one hartaal in that week for the same cause, it was decided that there was no need for an exclusion. Thus Keralites happily shut themselves down once more by sitting in their home drinking and watching TV, simultaneously expressing solidarity with the striking nation. The state govt found the decision of Tripura left govt which excluded itself from a second bandh for the same cause incomprehensible. Our CM asserted: “No regret for having two bandhs in a week. There will be more if possible”. Please note that here I hvn’t considered the local hartaals at all. e.g. the day after state hartaal, there was a BJP hartaal in Wayanad district alone.

You cant blame our CM coz its quite possible that the revenue from beverages corporation on the day before hartaal could be larger than any loss hartaal would cause to govt. It could also be possible that in a communism infested state, its more profitable if all the industries are shut?.

Or maybe, its all in our culture. In Kerala, the government employees who earns a living by doin as little work as possible are the most respected class. Where as the private company employees who earn by actually doin something productive are the cursed exploited class. Even if they earn more. But this is the case with most of India. So Kerala’s addiction with hartaal/bandh requires more serious scholarly study.

By now, any reader wouldn’t be surprised to know that as many as 1/3 rd of Malayalees work outside Kerala. They work really hard.  Save money.  Send it home so that their family can spend. So as long as there are no hartaals outside Kerala, say in Bangalore or in Dubai we will do just fine without working.  So right now we wait for the day when TV channels introduce “Hartaal Day special programmes”.

So is it the frequent hartaal thats making any hardworking Keralite leave the country? What if you don’t wanna sacrifice the greenery and pleasant weather just because of a few hartaals. Well in that case, u better be not an MD of any company.

Mathrubhumi news report: Keltron MD quits months before retirement. Official reason: he needs to take care of his children’s education in B’lore. Extra information: A trade union leader calls MD asks him to recruit 40 ppl he went to high school with. MD replies that if he does that, company will be at loss and he does not wish to head such an organization. Union leader of course has no idea why would an appointed  MD care about a govt  company. Leader threatens. MD leaves the state for good.

Another report after a few days : KSRTC MD submits resignation letter. I din bother to read the rest.

On the last day of my vacation: Radical Islamists (read anti-social elements or goondas if u r a “secularist”) chop off one hand of a college professor (a Christian) who set a question paper allegedly insulting Prophet Mohammad.

I hear the evening news where our education minister M.A Baby says the professor was such a fool to end up in a situation like that.

Thankfully my two weeks were over.

Kerala in a nutshell is an air conditioned theater with a very bad play. You either sleep peacefully or leave. I am just concerned about those second class audience who still watches the play hoping for a twist or a good climax. Believe me..it ain’t gonna come unless you demand it.

Consider, if you will, this blog as one of my chappals thrown just before leaving.

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Up until a few years back..


Now..

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World according to humans

What God gave us

The mess we made out of it

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