Right to Information
There are many hurdles to getting education for dalit women. Some are of a peculiar nature indeed. I had passed my Master of Social Work Examination in May 2008 from Devi Ahilya Vishwavidyalaya Indore (DAVV) and then deposited the requisite fees for getting a hard copy of the degree. I was told that the degree would be mailed to my home address. However, when even after one year the degree did not arrive I went to the examination section of DAVV to enquire and found that in the register in which they had recorded my request applicants before and after me had been sent their degrees but I had been omitted. When I asked about this the clerk made some vague excuses and said that I too would soon get the degree. Then I became busy with my MPhil studies and did not bother about this for another year. But in May this year I thought that enough was enough and went again to the examination section and all the way upto the Registrar and created a big ruckus about not being sent the degree. I was assured that the degree would be sent to me within a week. Some of my fellow students were sceptical however as they said that the clerks had to be paid two hundred rupees over and above the regulation fees for getting the degrees.
Predictably the degree did not arrive. So finally I had to take recourse to the Right to Information Act 2006 (RTI). This Act empowers the citizens to ask for information from the Government and the concerned authorities have to give the answer within thirty days or face a penalty of Rs 20000. I filed an application with the Public Information Officer of the DAVV on 15th June 2010 enquiring as to why the degree had not been sent and who were the officers responsible for this negligence and what action had been taken against those so responsible. Today 25th June 2010 I have received the degree by Express Courier.
Such is the level of corruption in the universities in India that even in such a small matter as the dispatching of a degree students have to pay bribes. Luckily due to the RTI now determined citizens can get the system to work. However, in serious matters where powerful vested interests are threatened they hit back at RTI activists by going to the extent of murdering them as so tragically happened in the case of Satish Shetty of Pune.
One can read about this at the following link - http://punekar.in/site/2010/01/14/rti-activist-satish-shettys-murder-roc...