Born the same year as our Republic, he is one of those who took the republic’s best way to implement the conceept
It took our nation to implement Right to Information Act 55 years after it became a republic. RTI was not a panacea for all the ills plaguing our nation, but it was a significant effort to provide the common man a tool to expose corruption in public dealings. Most of the people pooh-poohed it as ‘just another Act’. But a few people saw its potential and took it onto themselves to use the law effectively. Subhash Chandra Agrawal is one such crusader.
Incidentally, Agrawal was born the same year that we adopted our Constitution. He completed his graduation in Mechanical Engineering from Delhi College of Engineering (now Delhi Technological University) and went on to complete Post Graduate Diploma in Sales & Marketing from Faculty of Management Studies, Delhi. Agrawal dreamed of becoming an IAS Officer, but due to some personal reasons, he had to restrict himself to his family business. At the age of 55, when most of the people are over the hill and start planning their retirement, he saw a golden opportunity in the passage of RTI Act.
On October 12, 2005, as the RTI Act came into force, Agrawal’s pursuit for rooting out corruption began. Since then, he has been relentlessly exposing the corrupt practices of public officials and departments. Millions of subsidy pouring into Parliament’s canteen, unutilised MPLAD (Member of Parliament Local Area Development) funds, running costs of official bungalows provided to ex-MPs, assets of Supreme Court judges and many more, it was Agrawal’s RTI applications which brought these to public’s notice.
A running joke is that as soon as an information officer of a public office sees an RTI application undersigned by Subhash Agrawal, he/she doesn’t even try to conceal the information. Agrawal doesn’t hesitate in filing First Appeal or Second Appeal (State Information Commission) and chases the information right upto Central Information Commission. “The right to information should become the right to action,” he says, explaining how he forces the government to act. “I first file a complaint on the public grievances website. I then file an RTI [application] to follow up on my grievance.”
Agrawal’s persistence is not limited to just filing RTI applications. He even filed a PIL (Public Interest Lititgation) to fill up the vacant posts in Central Information Commission. Acting on the PIL, Delhi High Court directed to fill the posts as soon as possible. Agrawal’s childhood dream of serving the nation became a reality in his role of RTI activists. He has been felicitated with National RTI Award and interestingly, he also holds the Guinness World Record for “for the most published letters written to newspaper editors over an individual’s lifetime”. Agrawal’s work has not only forced the public officials to pull up their socks, it has motivated many to use RTI effectively.
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