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NDTV has announced the RTI Awards in association with Public Cause Research Foundation (PCRF), an organisation set up by Magsaysay awardee Arvind Kejriwal to acknowledge those who have displayed exemplary commitment to RTI Act. The first ever RTI Awards will honour respected Public Information Officers (PIOs), Citizens & Information Commissioners who have strived through the RTI to make India better. Ceremony to be held on 1st, Dec, 09 in New Delhi will be graced by Honourable Vice President of India; Hamid Ansari.
Speaking on the initiative, Dr. Prannoy Roy, Chairman, NDTV Ltd, said, “NDTV is privileged to present the RTI Awards to the citizens and officials of India who have made the Right-To-Information Act a success. RTI has helped Indians in getting justice that they are entitled to and brought in transparency in our democratic system. I am also very proud of our nation’s effort to fight for a change and believe the movement will only gain more strength in future”.
Magsaysay awardee and the force behind Public Cause Research Foundation (PCRF), Mr. Arvind Kejriwal added, “The purpose of these awards is to enthuse commissioners, officers and citizens alike to make RTI a reality in letter and spirit, which it is far from right now”.
The awards will be given in three categories - Best Information Commissioner in the Country, Best Public Information Officer in the Country and Best RTI Citizen - This Award will be given to the national who has used RTI Act in the best possible manner and has created substantial public impact.
The jury for these awards comprises of eminent personalities and citizens of India like Actor & Film Maker Aamir Khan; N R Narayana Murthy, Chief Mentor, Infosys; Mallika Sarabhai,Kuchipudi & Bharatnatyam Dancer & Social Activist; Fali S Nariman, Noted Jurist; Santosh,RTI Activist; Justice J S Verma, Former Chief Justice of India; Madhu Trehan, Author & Media Personality; J M Lyngdoh, Former Chief Election Commissioner; Pullela Gopichand, Ace Badminton player and National Badminton coach; Sanjay Gupta, Editor & CEO, Dainik Jagran Group and Dr. Prannoy Roy, Chairman, NDTV;
The eminent jury will choose the winners through voting. Each winner will receive a citation, a plaque and prize money of Rs. 2, 00,000.
The nominees in The Best Public Information Officer category include:
Atul Fulzale, Superintendent of Police in Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh. He has been devotedly serving the cause of bringing transparency in the various echelons of the Indian Police Service.
Raja Sekhar, District Revenue Officer (DRO) and PIO at Mahbubnagar fought general hostility towards RTI to inject a large dose of transparency in Mahbubnagar district administration.
Dr. Lalit Narayan Mishra of Chamoli, Uttarakhand who has worked towards bringing transparency to his small office in Auriya and later Etawah districts of Uttar Pradesh.
The nominees in the Best RTI Citizen category include:
Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) (Delhi) - Has been short listed for using RTI Act to demand disclosure of income tax (I-T) returns of political parties, resulting in a landmark decision of the Central Information Commission (CIC), which held that such a disclosure was in public interest and so must be allowed.
Sunil Kumar Mahto (Ranchi) for conducting several RTI investigations that have uncovered corruption in public works and services and helped in holding public authorities accountable for their misdeeds.
Subhash Chandra Agrawal (Delhi) for starting a legal process that set off the ongoing debate on whether or not judges of Supreme Court and High Courts should publicly disclose information about their assets and liabilities.
Amit Kumar (East Champaran) for using RTI to expose corruption and irregularities in government.
Rajinder Nagar Welfare Association (Delhi) for setting an example in active citizenship and collective action by using RTI to detect corruption in a local road project, pushing the case through government inertness over 4 years, and getting the guilty engineers and contractor proceeded against.
Ajay Dubey (Bhopal) for using RTI Act to reveal the fact that hundreds of mines for both major and minor minerals in Madhya Pradesh had been operating without obtaining clearance from state pollution control board (MPPCB).
Ajay Singh Rawat, (Nainital, Uttarakhand) for using RTI in his effort to prevent or stop construction, quarrying and other activities that were potentially damaging to the fragile ecology of Nainital.
Prashant Kumar Dubey (Bhopal) for using RTI and the media together to make child malnutrition one of the most important social, political and electoral issues in Madhya Pradesh.
Dev Ashish Bhattacharya (Delhi) - An RTI activist, Dev has filed over 100 RTIs so far on various issues. One of his noteworthy applications that had a large scale impact was the one filed with the Ministry of Home Affairs seeking information on food grain damage in FCI godowns.
Rajesh Bissa (Raipur, Chhattisgarh) for using RTI Act, to reveal large-scale irregularities and corruption in selection of a private partner for Rs 2500 crore road project and awarding of other large contracts by Chhattisgarh government.
Vinod Pandya (Gujarat) for using RTI Act to show how private primary schools in Gujarat, helped by an ineffective administration, are violating rules and regulations with impunity and cheating both pupils and teachers in the process.
Ravindra Singh (Rajnandgaon, Chattisgarh) for his effort to use and encourage others to use RTI Act to expose illegalities committed by Chhattisgarh Public Service Commission (CGPSC) in selecting candidates for state civil services.
Shyam Lal Yadav (Delhi) - Principal correspondent with India Today (Hindi), who has used the RTI Act to bring forth the truth behind several contentious issues. One such successful revelation was the expenditure incurred by the current UPA government on foreign trips made by its various union ministers.
Bharatsinh R. Jhala, (Ahmedabad) for conducting an RTI investigation to show that more farmers in Gujarat had been committing suicides than what the state government was prepared to admit, thus bringing to light economic distress of small farmers.
Raaj Mangal Prasad (Delhi) for his efforts to use RTI Act to expose how Delhi government officials siphoned off crores of rupees meant for homes for children, squalor and neglect in those homes, and government’s pathetic performance in complying with Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000.
Ramesh Kumar Verma (Delhi) for using RTI to expose doctors with fake degrees and also the scandal that facilitated their existence.
Rajeev Kumar (Kharagpur, West Bengal) for using RTI to compel IIT to make the selection procedure transparent.
Akhil Gogoi, (Golaghat, Assam) - Best-known social activist of Assam - For starting an RTI investigation in March 2006, followed by a social audit, that led to the expose of a Rs 1.25 core scam in Sampoornai Gram Rozgar Yojana (SGRY) and Rs 60 lakh scam in Indira Awas Yojana in Gamariguri block of Golaghat district.
Narmada Bachao Andolan (Badwani Madhya Pradesh), this team exposed through government’s own information a unique scam in the resettlement programme of Sardar Sarovar project on Narmada river.
ONGC is the presenting sponsor for the RTI awards.