The power of RTI Act

The power of RTI Act
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Highlights

It was a life that appeared rosy for the electronics engineer from National Institute of Technology, Warangal, after he secured State 11th rank in EAMCET. However, his choice to shelve a handsome and well-paying career in pursuit of a more ‘meaningful’ job brought him face to face with the powerful Right to Information Act. This was his way of responding to his ‘inner calling’ as he clarifies. Arm

Hyd activist who is taking on the high and mighty

It was a life that appeared rosy for the electronics engineer from National Institute of Technology, Warangal, after he secured State 11th rank in EAMCET. However, his choice to shelve a handsome and well-paying career in pursuit of a more ‘meaningful’ job brought him face to face with the powerful Right to Information Act. This was his way of responding to his ‘inner calling’ as he clarifies. Arm

ed with data and aided by technology, Rakesh Reddy Dubbudu, today is a man who fights smart. The former Oracle professional is now the convenor of the Hyderabad-based United Forum for RTI Campaign and the founder of ‘Factly’, a data website largely popular on Facebook. His researched infographics, one of which went hammer and tongs against Sachin Tendulkar ahead of the India-Pakistan match, are a hit on the social media.

Rakesh’s efforts have also been recognised by the Union Government, which granted him the RTI Fellowship last year.Currently, he also provides customised training on RTI to lawyers, civil servants and professionals. Talking to Young Hans, Rakesh traces his journey from the confines of NIT to his up and running initiative that educates and empowers many.

Infographic by Factly

“Like any other student from South India, I studied Maths, Physics and Chemistry without realising what I wished to become. It was only during my engineering days that I began to reflect upon my choices and took to reading the Indian Constitution”, recalls Rakesh. Later employed with Oracle, Rakesh, then a Civil Services aspirant, would frequent government offices to understand the RTI Act better after the Right to Information was introduced in 2005.

“I realised I would best function outside of the system. I began to take a keen interest in the functionalities of the Act”, says Rakesh. He interacts with likeminded individuals, whose main endeavor is to make the available data meaningful to people and give it a perspective. “Data alone says nothing. Smart analysis and perspective can help anyone understand its importance”, says Rakesh, who started ‘Factly’ along with his tech-savvy friends.

“The 2014 Lok Sabha elections prompted this idea. I realised a lot of youngsters absorbed the lies around and passed misconceptions from one to another without any verification whatsoever, especially on Facebook. Hence, I started this website based only on government authenticated data.’ His innovative snippets of information were quickly grabbed by ‘The Logical Indian’ and ‘Scroll’, who later published stories based on them to garner millions of likes and views. Subsequently, the infographic on IRCTC helped change perceptions of many towards this facility.

Rakesh Reddy Dubbudu

“The RTI we filed revealed that IRCTC booked 15 crore tickets annually using a bandwidth of 1/800th that of Facebook. We were happy to realise that people appreciated the efforts of the government,” reasons the man on an educative mission, as he puts it. One of their most popular infographic on Sachin Tendulkar went viral on the social media and gradually weighed heavy on the star.

“We wanted to show Tendulkar’s performance in the Rajya Sabha just two days before the India-Pakistan match. I was ready for brickbats”, he recalls. “We found out through RTI that the cricket icon received 38 lakh rupees of salary from the government and attended only six of the 179 meetings of the Rajya Sabha. It meant that he was paid close to 6,30,000 rupees for every day he attended! This is more than the amount BCCI paid him for each match”, he clarifies.

“I am currently building a database for our initative”, he says, adding that as an engineer, he enjoys an edge over fellow-activists. “It is important to take the aid of technology to reach out to people”, he says. Having excelled in academics all through, Rakesh has a grouse with the present education system.

“Higher education completely cuts one off from the society and also the ground-realities. As a result, the social fabric is going for a toss. We are producing professionals with little awareness of their surroundings”, laments Rakesh. “We complain of corruption, whereas the ones who vociferously condemn corruption are the ones who can afford it and therefore indulge in it. We are not a part but the very root cause of the malaise we complain of”, he rues.

Rakesh believes that the education system should sensitise the youth and bring them close to the government and information. “The youth have to be educated about their rights. Without this knowledge, there is little we can do to address even our own grievances”

By:Mythili Sankara

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