India Against Corruption willingly did not furnish details on countrywide campaigns
Afroz Alam Sahil, BeyondHeadlines
New Delhi: “Be the change you want to see in the world,” preached the father of the nation, but modern day anti-corruption crusaders seldom remember this.
BeyondHeadlines (BH) made an attempt under the Right to Information (RTI) to know the details regarding the donations and expenditure of the ‘movement’ India Against Corruption (IAC) led by Arvind Kejriwal, the RTI crusader and present member of the joint drafting committee of the Lokpal Bill. Interestingly, the information provided by the organization was half-hearted and sketchy at best.
BH had written a letter to the IAC, asking specifically about the inception of the IAC, the philosophy behind, its programmes, sources of funding and details of expenses.
Instead of the sought details, BH got the reply that answers to most of the questions raised are available on the website. Since answers to specific questions were not provided, our team looked for it on the IAC website (www.indiaagainstcorruption.com) to know the answers. The BH team has put together those answers and if any point is missed, it is because we could not easily find that.
The IAC mentions who all are its members but without specifics on how they were selected to comprise of what they like to call “civil society.” It, however, mentions, “India Against Corruption movement is an expression of collective anger of people of India against corruption. We have all come together to force/request/persuade/pressurize the government to enact the Jan Lokpal Bill.”
It further adds that it is not a Sangathan or an NGO (non-governmental organization) or any institution. It is a people’s movement, a collective expression of the people of India fighting against corruption and seeking a better future.
The members of the IAC also include luminaries like Anna Hazare, Baba Ramdev, Sri Sri Ravishankar, Mahamood Madani, Swami Agnivesh, Kiran Bedi, among others.
The IAC website has details of campaigns organised till April 13, 2011. It had issued a detailed press release on money collected and expenses occurred on Anna Hazare’s fast, according to which the IAC had received a total donation of Rs 82.88 lakh. So far, Rs 50.18 lakh was spent.
However, until now, the website has no details of break ups of expenses incurred in organizing programmes and campaigns all across the country.
The website also mentions that it incurred conveyance expenses of Rs 4,61,382, but does not give any details or break ups.
BH had also asked about details of several meetings it held and sought their minutes. We were not provided the same, and we did not find details of any meeting or its minutes. There is the Hindi and English version of drafts of the Lokpal Bill on the IAC.
The site also does not have details of who all were parts of the actual drafting committee of the IAC version of the bill.
BH had also specifically asked if any event or media management company was hired or how was it managed. We got no response to it. We also did not find details on its website.
BH also sought reply to the above mentioned questions from the Public Cause Research Foundation, the brain child of the IAC. But the PCRF, which is also led by Kejriwal, does not think that it, or the NGOs working on the RTI, too should voluntary come clean as both the organizations did not find it opportune to answer the questions raised.
The whole episode shows that the advocates of transparency themselves are not transparent.