The RTI Story | Power to the people
‘To know is to understand. To understand is to be at peace or – embattled.’ The RTI Story: Power to the People is the story of a campaign that evolved into a genuine and vibrant people’s movement. Culled from the voices of people, often such stories only feed into the research of scholars, largely unacknowledged and forgotten. The dominant narrative is always from the perspective of the ruler and single individuals. One had hoped that democracy would set it right. But the people who are the primary contributors to the discourse always remain on the fringes. Written by Aruna Roy with the MKSS collective, this book is for everyone who asks questions, seeks answers to fight corruption and injustice, and challenges arbitrary power. It is a celebration of commitment laced with humour, the struggle, the songs, the theatres of protest, long spells on the street and drafting a peoples’ law.
The first MKSS May Day meeting in the market place at Bhim.
Excerpted from the book –
Right to Information
My dreams have the right to know
Why for centuries they keep getting shattered, never get fulfilled!
My hands have the right to know
Why for years they have remained unemployed – have no work even today!
My feet have the right to know
Why they have to walk from village to village – why no sign of a bus!
My hunger has the right to know
Why grains rot in godowns and not a fistful for me!
My old mother has the right to know
Why no pills, no needle, no clinic – nothing for bandages, for stitches!
My children have the right to know
Why they have to toil day and night, why no school in the village!
My fields have the right to know
Why the huge dams are built and yet my crops are lifeless!
My rivers have the right to know
Why factories pour poisons, as if rivers have no life!
My forests have the right to know
Where are the branches, leaves, stem and soil gone, why not a spring in sight!
My village has the right to know
Why no power, no roads, no water, why no ration shop open!
My settlement has the right to know
Why our homes are razed and ruined without a trace!
My votes have the right to know
Why big promises one fine day, no work for five years!
My Ram has the right to know,
Rahman has the right to know
Why the blood flows in the streets, are we all not humans!
My life has the right to live
What is life without rights – it’s no life!
Van Utsav – Rally in Sohangarh to claim the alotted land
The women who won the battle for land
About the Author
Aruna Roy resigned from the IAS in 1975 to work with peasants and workers in rural Rajasthan. In 1990 she helped co-found the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) with Nikhil Dey and Shankar. The MKSS struggles in the mid 90s for wages and other rights gave birth to the now celebrated Right to Information movement. Aruna continues to be a part of many democratic struggles and campaigns. This book is a collective history that tells the story of how ordinary people can come together and prevail against great odds, to make democracy more meaningful.
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