RTI:Gujarat:One-man crusade against bad governance

One-man crusade against bad governance

Vijaysinh Parmar | TNN

Junagadh: Here is one crusader, who considers o t h e r ’s problems his own. Q u i e t ly but diligently using RTI as a tool, JP Shah, 59, a re t i re d bank manager, has helped hundreds across the country get their rights.

Be it widows not getting their dues, pensioners who have been struggling for many years, educated unemployed youths waiting for jobs in government departments, senior citizens and people who are struggling with various government departments — his list has endless success stories.

Shah’s weapon is his computer and his phone that are live every hour in the day. He could be reached by phone calls, emails, blog posts and letters and he promptly replies to them too. Shah tags a line in all his letters, “Hate RTI and perpetuate bad governance for the next generation.”

When TOI went visiting Shah’s home four days back, a certain Geetha Kumari of Kerala was on line. Kumari complained that she had four children to feed, but was not getting her family pension after her husband died in 2007. Her husband was an employee of Food Corporation of India (FCI). Shah immediately emailed an RTI application to her. In just few days, Kumari’s file was recommended for pension disbursal.

Chandrika Thakar from Junagadh lost her husband to illness in 2003. It came as a big blow to this 40-year-old widow, who had also lost all hope of getting back her husband’s 16-year-old Rs 2.29 lakh fixed deposit. Shah helped her file an RTI application and she got her fixed deposit with an 11-year interest in a few months.

Shah’s blogs and articles have had 1.4 lakh hits in the last two years. He has already guided 5,000 persons from all over the country on matters of RTI. Interestingly, Provident Fund status,income tax return and Provident Fund refund gets maximum hits. Two years ago, Administrative Staff College of Assam had invited Shah’s suggestions on RTI training for their personnel.

People from Chennai, Thiruvanathapuram, Chandigarh, Ambala, Phagwara,Ujjain,Mumbai,Udaipur, Byawar, Bengaluru, Delhi, Noida, Agra, Ghaziabad and Rajamundry are in regular touch with Shah.“Iwould not have lived had JP Shah not helped us. His help came at a crucial juncture in our life.I had lost everything.But, Shah gave us hope,”says Thakar.

“JP Shah has been guiding force for many like me. He helped me tirelessly fight the charity commissioner to get permission to non-CA to audit the trust whose income is up to Rs 3, 000 per year. Now, this has helped numbers of youths in the state,” says Rakesh Shah, a resident of Junagadh.

“For the first time since Independence, an ordinary Indian feels empowered, thanks to RTI. I wish everybody feels the same,” says Shah.

J P Shah

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