Thursday, August 9, 2007

Campaign at VIT Vellore As published by THE HINDU
Tamil Nadu - Vellore Students urged to help tackle corruption

MEET: A volunteer of the Students’ Council of the VIT University distributing a zero-rupee note printed by 5th Pillars at a meeting on the VITU campus in Vellore on Tuesday.

VELLORE: “How much did you pay to get your driving licence?” “I paid Rs. 800,” said one student, “I paid Rs. 300,” said another, and “I paid Rs. 2,000,” said a third. The question was asked by Vijay Anand, president of 5th Pillar, during the course of his interactive talk on ‘Empowering citizens to fight corruption through the Right to Information (RTI) Act’ under the auspices of the Students’ Council of VIT University on the VITU campus here on Tuesday.
Mr. Vijay Anand said that the students or their parents who paid Rs. 800 and Rs. 2,000 for them had committed a crime by paying so much to get a two-wheeler licence, the actual fee of which is only Rs. 250, and Rs. 300 for both two-wheeler and light motor vehicle driving licences. Drawing the student audience further into the discussion, he asked the students whether they would go to court if the authorities refused to issue them their driving licence within the stipulated 30 days without demanding any extra amount or bribe. To this the students replied in the negative. They said that court proceedings were time consuming and that they would rather pay a bribe amount and get the licence.
Mr. Anand said that India stood 70th of 163 countries in the world in the corruption perception index, Finland taking the first place. “Can we bring India within the 10th place in the corruption perception index?” he asked. “No, because corruption is rampant in India,” replied a student, to which a large section of the audience clapped. Taken aback by the clapping, Mr. Vijay Anand asked them whether they clapped because there was too much corruption in India. “If that is the case, there is no point in conducting the meeting. I expect positive responses from you,” said Mr. Anand, who said that he was confident that India could become a superpower in 30 years if corruption is eliminated.
Mr. Anand said that he was going to conduct one such meeting in each of the 30 districts of Tamil Nadu to convey the need to eliminate corruption.
He picked three students – Keshav, Ganesh and Muthukumar – of the Nazareth College of Arts and Science, Avadi, who were deputed by the principal of the college to work as volunteers along with him in his mission, when he conducted a similar meeting in that college on Monday. “I propose to get 100 such volunteers from each district to gather a total of 3,000 volunteers to join the 5th Pillar in its task. Our organisation will coordinate with similar organisations in other States to take the movement to the National level,” he said.Vital tool
Mr. Anand said that though the RTI Act was introduced by the Central Government two years ago, 95 per cent of the citizens did not know about the Act or how to use the Act to obtain information. He said he was confident that in future the RTI Act was going to be a vital tool in the task of eliminating corruption.
M.V. Siva Harsha, president, Students’ Council, VITU, welcomed the gathering. Githin J. Mathew, vice-president, Students’ Council, spoke. M.S.S. Ramanathan, another vice-president of the council, proposed a vote of thanks.
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