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Right to Information – Master key to good governance

Arvind Kejriwal selected for Magsaysay Award – The 2006 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership

Posted by rtiact2005 on July 31, 2006

Arvind Kejriwal selected for Magsaysay Awardhttp://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/articleshow/1832474.cms

KUALA LUMPUR: Head of Delhi-based Parivartan citizen’s movement, Arvind Kejriwal, was on Monday selected for this year’s Ramon Magsaysay Award for his contribution to India’s right-to-information movement and empowering poor citizens to fight corruption.

Besides Kejriwal, the other five selected for the award are Sanduk Ruit (Nepal), Ek Sonn Chan (Cambodia) Park Won Soon (South Korea) and Eugenia Duran Apostol and Antonio Meloto (both Philippine).

They would be presented the award, Asia’s version of the Nobel Prize, at a ceremony in Manila on August 31. The annual awards are named after late Philippine President Ramon Magsaysay.

In electing Kejriwal, 38, to receive the 2006 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership, the board of trustees recognizes his activating India’s right-to-information movement at the grassroots, empowering New Delhi’s poorest citizens to fight corruption by holding government accountable to the people, the organisers said in a citation.

Kejriwal, a mechanical engineer from IIT Kharagpur, who joined the civil services as a member of the Indian Revenue Service in 1992, is currently on leave from the Government for two years. “The brazen corruption of the high and the mighty may grab headlines, but for ordinary people it is the ubiquity of everyday corruption that weighs heaviest. And that demoralizes.

Arvind Kejriwal, founder of India’s Parivartan , understands this, which is why his campaign for change begins with the small things,” the organisers said.

The 2006 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership CITATION for Arvind Kejriwal
Ramon Magsaysay Award Presentation Ceremonies
31 August 2006, Manila, PhilippinesThe brazen corruption of the high and the mighty may grab headlines, but for ordinary people it is the ubiquity of everyday corruption that weighs heaviest. And that demoralizes. Arvind Kejriwal, founder of India’s Parivartan, understands this, which is why his campaign for change begins with the small things.

As a tax officer with the Indian Revenue Service, Arvind Kejriwal became aware of the many powers that tax officials held over private citizens and how easily these powers could be abused. Indeed, at the tax department, one expected to pay bribes as a matter of course. With a few kindred spirits, Kejriwal began to strategize about how to bring an end to this. In 2000, he founded Parivartan, meaning “change.” Parivartan appealed to the tax commissioner to make the tax department more transparent and less capricious. When this failed, it filed Public Interest Litigation directing the department to implement a five-point transparency plan. Eventually, Parivartan held a nonviolent protest, or satyagraha, outside the chief commissioner’s office. Threat of another protest with the press on hand convinced the tax chief to implement the reforms.

Meanwhile, on leave from his job, Kejriwal stationed himself with other Parivartan members outside the electricity department. There they exhorted visitors not to pay bribes and offered to facilitate their dealings with the department for free. Since then, Parivartan has settled 2,500 grievances with the electricity department on behalf of individuals. Some seven hundred more have benefited from the group’s “Don’t pay bribes!” campaign at the tax department.

Under the Delhi Right to Information Act of 2001, every citizen possesses the right to inspect government documents. Kejriwal put the new law to use in Sundernagari, a New Delhi slum where Parivartan was working among the poor. First, the group obtained official reports on all recent public-works projects in the area. Next, it led residents in a “social audit” of sixty-eight projects, stirring the community to action with neighborhood meetings and street plays. Then, in a large public hearing, the residents presented their findings and exposed misappropriations in sixty-four of the projects—embezzlement to the tune of seven million rupees! Today, in Sundernagari, local committees monitor public-works projects block by block, and no project may begin until the details of the contract have been made public.

The Indian government provides subsidized rations of wheat and rice to poor people through neighborhood ration shops. Records acquired by Kejriwal for Sundernagari revealed high levels of theft in the system. In one area, over 90 percent of the grain ration was being skimmed off by shopkeepers in collusion with certain food department officials. When Parivartan investigated this, one of its team members was savagely attacked. In protest, more than five thousand residents of the community held a monthlong “rations fast.” This and a mass rally riveted public attention, and foot-dragging officials finally moved to clean up the system.

Now in its seventh year, Parivartan has only ten full-time members. Although Kejriwal sometimes takes on larger issues—such as the successful 2005 campaign challenging a water-privatization plan for New Delhi—he has no plans to expand. He prefers to coordinate Parivartan’s efforts with other like-minded NGOs across India.

Thirty-eight-year-old Kejriwal reminds Indians that the boons of collective action, such as the honest delivery of services, have already been paid for through taxes. Citizens are entitled to them. The spirit of his movement was aptly captured by the women of Sundernagari as they rallied to protest cheating in neighborhood ration shops: “We are not begging from anyone!” they chanted. “We are demanding our rights.”

In electing Arvind Kejriwal to receive the 2006 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership, the board of trustees recognizes his activating India’s right-to-information movement at the grassroots, empowering New Delhi’s poorest citizens to fight corruption by holding government accountable to the people.

7 Responses to “Arvind Kejriwal selected for Magsaysay Award – The 2006 Ramon Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership”

  1. VEERESH BELLUR said

    Hearty Congratullations Mr. Aravind. This is an honour bestowed on the right to information activits in India.

    Members of Brashtachara Nirmoolana Vedike, BANGALORE.

  2. ramesh wasudeo said

    heartiest congratulations for arvind. this proves that good work does not go waste as most people think.

    a very well deserved decoration and reward. may he rise to higher and higher pedestal. all the best.

    rw

  3. devanshi said

    congrats..good work done..Its a mammoth task to bring about a hope of transparency in our country’s bureaucracy for which Arvind kejriwal has atleast set the ball rolling. kuddos! What India needs are more Arvind Kejriwals!

  4. Vaishali Nayse said

    Dear Sir
    This might be irrelevant. But I have these question for Mr. Kejriwal.
    Why our Govt. gives Z security to Priyanka Gandhi?…And why our politician are looking for Priyanka to enter into politics..as they ‘ve judged that there are no guts in Rahul…but why not other young MPs like Sachin Pilot, Agatha Sangama and more have ambitions to lead. Why they are talking abt Priyanka..This is shame on our young MPs ..Why we should vote them if they don’t have guts to lead..Why there is not competition for better work..Why there is no competitor for Modi n Nitish Kumar.. instead politicians are pulling their legs back…This should be changed… Why not age bar for politicians….

    But How n Whn ?

    Thanking you.

  5. Bijaya kumar rout said

    Dear Arvind ji ,i am Bijaya kumar rout from odisha & right now in gurgaon , i am interested for social work , please advise &help me .

  6. Sunil Lal said

  7. Sunil Lal said

    Revoke Arvind’s 2006 Magsaysay

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