Monday, June 14, 2010

High School graduates ordeal in joining Professional Studies is addressed

Getting admission into professional programs like Medicine, Engineering, Dental, Veterinary, Agriculture and Law after high school completion is highly competitive and especially for kids who do not come from an educated background have to rely on hearsay and choose the program according to their understanding. In addition to this many do not have the financial resources to put them through these programs and so even after achieving good marks in their public exams cannot go for professional studies.
The recent scheme First Graduate Students, was initiated specifically to address this situation. There is no caste discrimination or financial demarcation enforced to obtain these scholarships. As long as there are no graduates in their family and the student is the first to enter college, the government will pay the tuition fees for the professional course the student joins. The student has to get admission by merit into the professional college in order to avail this program. The students have to get a certificate from the Tasildhar of their community to attest that he/she is the first to enter college. Of 1073 petitions received from youths for this scheme, 869 applicants are granted first graduate student certificates, and the first batch of 27 certificates where distributed to the youths by the Transport Minister K.N.Nehru in Trichy on 9th June. Similar to this there are many schemes and scholarships in place by the Tamil Nadu government, which most of the citizens are unaware as reluctant to pursue due to the extensive bureaucratic hurdles. First the students should be notified of all the schemes available by distributing a pamphlet or there should be a counselor in government schools who should guide the kids into respective scholarship they qualify.
We in 5th Pillar have been voicing these ideas to the public and one mode of spreading information is through media. Director of Operations of 5th Pillar, Mr. Subramani, spoke in JayaPlus TV on 24th May, about student loans and answered calls that he received during the program. The media are also taking part in empowering our citizens by creating such informative programs for the viewers.
On 5th June in another JayaPlus TV interview, Mr. Bhanukumar, Retired Executive Director of 5th Pillar and Mr. Subramani took part in an interactive program, on the topic primary and secondary education in the state of Tamil Nadu. The subjects covered were standard of education in private and Government schools, the impact of the Govt, order on the fee structure,, detention of students in elementary classes, the impact of SAMACHEER Kalvi in the educational system, malpractices in private schools, etc.
Empowering our citizens with information is the first step towards overall success and that is what we are trying very hard through our organization.

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Exhibiting Affiliation to 5th Pillar helped a citizen obtain his Voter ID

5th Pillar coordinator of Dharmapuri District, Vinoth had an interesting story to share with us. His personal success by approaching the authorities as part of 5th Pillar team is very interesting. This shouldn't be the case. Every citizen should get his rights at the proper course of time. That is what we are trying hard to achieve, which we would if we all join together and take a rooted stand against corruption.

Vinoth lost his Voters ID, three years ago and had not taken it seriously at that time. He applied for a new voters id last year before the MP elections, for which he paid the designated fee of Rs.15/- and attached 2 passport size photograph along with his application. It has been more than a year and he did not get his new card, neither did he receive any communication as to the delay of issuing his new Voters ID. Vinoth approached the District Collector's office clad in 5th Pillar t shirt, on 17th May, 2010, and spoke to the collector Mrs. Amudha directly, and explained the long delay in receiving his ID. The Collector's office contacted the relevant department in charge of issuing the Voters ID, which is also housed inside the Collector's office campus, and the ID was given to Vinoth in a few minutes. This is a great success story for 5th Pillar, but sorry state of our government offices. Any citizen disregarding any affiliations to any organization should be able to have access to all the services entitled to oneself.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

5th Pillar's awareness campaign through media, JayaPlus TV

Awareness is a key factor to tackle corruption. Citizens should first be aware of their rights and the process involved in obtaining their rights. Ignorance in this aspect paves way for middlemen to cash in.
To address this representatives from 5th Pillar had been appearing in JayaPlus TV periodically for half hour to explain about ways to confront corruption and educate people on addressing different daily issues. On May 24th, Director of Operations, 5th Pillar, Mr. Subramani, was interviewed for half an hour in JayaPlus TV, and he spoke on the topic of education loans for high school graduates to pursue their collegiate studies. Getting loans from banks have always been an ordeal for poor parents who aspire higher studies for their kids. Mr. Subramani explained the stipulations for obtaining the student loan, the interest rate and eligibility criteria, to give a clear idea to the viewers so that they would be aware if they are wronged. In his address he mentioned that a student is eligible for a loan if his total family income is 4.5 lakhs or less, and the interest is waived for technical courses till the starting date of repayment which is after the completion of their college education. During the course of the interview, Mr. Subramani also answered calls from viewers who had questions about different scenarios. Shows like this are eye-openers to the citizens who are unaware of the procedures for services. 

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

5th Pillar, Dharmapuri Chapter retrieved the swindled money from Government School Administrators

Dharmapuri Chapter of 5th Pillar had taken up an initiative to propagate the message of anti-corruption by displaying banners of 5thPillar and Zero Rupee Note at main communal centers like the bus stand where there is a great number of congregation of people. Banners were displayed in 8 small towns around Dharmapuri, namely Harur, Penagaram, Morappur, Pappireddipatty, Nallampalli, Nallampalli and Palacode. Volunteers of 5th Pillar also distributed Zero Rupee Notes and RTI( Right to Information) pamphlets to all the passersby to create an awareness of ways to tackle corruption and the organization that supports and stands behind all the citizens that would take a stand against this social evil. Dharmapuri Chapter coordinator, Mr. Vinoth, took the campaign further and distributed 2500 Zero Rupee Notes and pamphlets in Collector's campus. This was televised by many local channels which gave a wide publicity for the cause and Vinoth was invited for a one hour TV interview by a local channel there, where he answered queries from 20 callers.
The campaign was a huge success as the informational materials distributed at vantage points had reached the masses and numerous people are still approaching our organization seeking help to solve their pending issues. One such issue worth mentioning here, was the intervention of our organization in a scam conducted by some miscreants in the government school of Thottapatti, near Morappur in Dharmapuri District. 5TH pillar dharmapuri team received a information that a government school in Thootapatti village is collecting admission fees of 300 rs for 6th standad and 500 Rs for 9 standard admission in a Xerox centre located  opposite to the school. A hand written chit is given as a receipt token of cash which infers for admission. The funds are collected in terms of Parents Teachers Association. Vinoth, Dharmapuri Chapter coordinator approached the District Collector and District Chief Education Officer (CEO), and urged to take immediate action against the social outlaws who are taxing from the poor who are already struggling to make ends meet and still try to educate their kids. As a result the money taxed from the poor parents was reverted back to them. This has instilled a great sense of confidence in the public to believe that it is still possible to walk the straight line.

Monday, June 7, 2010

5th Pillar Virudhachalam Chapter helped 200 people to obtain drivers license without bribing

5th Pillar's Virudhachalam Chapter conducted a chapter meeting at Raja Mahal in Virudhachalam and had invited Dr.Valluvan ( President – Anti Corruption Movement), Mr.Rajendran ( Motor Vehicle Inspector – Virudhachalam), Mr.Palani (Vigilance Inspector) and Mr. Subramani( Director of Operations, 5th Pillar). District chapter coordinator Mr. Santhanamurthy, had organized the event and all the dignitaries had something to say about corruption. Dr.Valluvan spoke on the effectiveness of using the Right to Information Act, and stressed on emphasizing the State Information Commission to expedite their response on the pending files. Mr. Rajendran, spoke on the importance of carrying a valid drivers license and the regulations and safety rules to adhere for overall safety. He also mentioned that 5th Pillar chapter at Virudhachalam had been instrumental in guiding people to obtain drivers license without having to pay bribe. Mr. Palani, Vigilance Inspector, spoke about corruption inside Hight court premises, and how it affects the people. He also stressed the people to take an active stand against corruption. Mr. Santhanamurthy who had been an ardent advocate to obtaining services without paying bribe, had been instrumental in aiding nearly 200 people from Virudhachalam and neighboring towns to obtain drivers license from Virudhachalam RTO( Road Transport Organization) office, without paying bribe. Mr. Rajendran, distributed the license to all the 200 people at this event to establish the fact that it is still possible to obtain services without paying bribe, if we unitedly confront corruption.

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5th Pillar's, Freedom from Corruption Campaign to Disha Scholars

Corporate Social Responsibility is a form of self regulation integrated into a business model to ensure its support to law, ethical standards, and international norms. Consequently, business would embrace responsibility for the impact of its activities on the environment, consumers, employees, communities, stakeholders and all other members of the public sphere. To this effect, Ma foi Management Consultants, a major HR service provider and staffing company in India, have initiated Disha Scholarship scheme, to help the underprivileged children who aspire for higher education. 5th Pillar was invited to one of their events to talk to these scholars about corruption and ways to tackle them. Director of Operations of 5th Pillar, Mr. Subramani addressed the students about the evils of corruption and the novice tool adopted by 5th Pillar to tackle corruption namely the Zero Rupee Note. The Zero Rupee Note that resembles the 50Rs Indian currency was very captive to these kids and their curiosity was quenched with explanation of successes obtained by handing these notes to the corrupt officials. This lead to an interactive session with lot of sparked queries from the active minds. Even though they accept the fact that corruption is an evil practice, one of the student had a query,” How to obtain my basic rights like birth certificate, drivers license and so on without giving bribe, when everyone around me get these documents by shelling out few hundreds”. Mr. Subramani, replied saying that one has to be first aware of the standard fee structure for obtaining these documents and should also prepare the paperwork in order and time. The student community showed a lot of enthusiasm towards fighting the prevalent widespread corruption. "We have thought and talked much about deep-rooted corruption and government insensitiveness and today, through this discussion, we have realized that it is our duty to do our share in reality and moreover awareness on fees structure was a useful insight'' said Jhansi Rani , a Mafoi Scholar during the thanking note. At the end of the event, Zero Rupee Note was distributed to all the participants and a pledge was taken by all to neither accept nor give bribe.

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Sunday, June 6, 2010

If not us, who? If not now, when?

Good day everyone!!!
I want to tell you something that might trigger your thoughts. You might have talked about this topic many times with your friends and family. I am sure you care about it, but you don’t believe that YOU can make a DIFFERENCE or you strongly believe that it can’t be changed. Have you guessed it??? Yes, you are right. It’s about our country and the problems we face in our day to day life…
We are a developing nation for more than 60 years… Our development really gained momentum from 1991 after the economic reforms. People sensed that there are opportunities for everyone to create wealth and live prosper. Education is the key driver for our growth. You can see that in your case and people around you. Millions of people are out of poverty and we have excelled in many sectors like IT, space research, biotechnology, banking, telecommunications etc…
In the growth process, we have consciously neglected to act on a major reform – ELIMINATE CORRUPTION IN INDIA. The result is unbelievable. Every public service in our country can be obtained only by paying EXTRA to the officials. Right from a child is born to his/her end of life, he/she has to bribe for every single service from the government. Birth certificate, community certificate, driver license, marriage certificate, ration card, property registration, passport, police verification, water connection, gas connection, police FIR, court judgment, public hospital services, senior citizen services, pension, death certificate, dependents eligibility services and the list goes on…
You and I know the impact of corruption on our lives very well. Our dads paid 20 rupees for their driver licenses, we pay 100 rupees for ours and our kids will pay 500 rupees for their licenses. The BIG question is, what are we going to do about it??? Till now, we have either ignored or whined about our state. We have increased our tolerance level assuming that society cannot be changed and blamed the system/politicians. We expect someone to bring the change and clean the mess. Have you ever heard about a change in which people is not part of it? All major movements like French revolution, American independence, Elimination of slavery in America, Indian independence struggle, Abolition of Sati, License Raj reform , were successful only when the people believed in the change and actively participated for the cause. Our country is known for social reforms and we had great reformers in time. We are now again in the crossroads. We can either ask our sons & daughters to pay their part of EXTRA or believe in ourselves that we can eliminate corruption completely from our society within 10 years.
Organize for CHANGE!!!
What if I tell you that you can take concrete steps towards a corruption free India? What if I ask you to forget all the practical difficulties for five minutes and believe that you personally can bring the change? Yes… it’s possible!!! You and I can eliminate corruption from our nation, if we start believing in ourselves. We have the technology, and ability to organize change. All we need is willingness and confidence to take the first step towards it. There is a movement in India called 5th Pillar that is organizing citizens against corruption. Innovation is the core of the movement. A Zero Rupee note for showing our resistance to corruption and it works!!! Read more about Zero Rupee note in the world bank blog site.

How can we contribute?
This is very important. We all know that the problem exists and we need to solve it. At the same time, we have our personal life, career and entertainment. But, that’s not an excuse to ignore action. We can do this without affecting our regular life. Seven things you can do in the next seven days….
Declare that our nation is corruption free by 2020.
Believe that you can bring change by active participation.
Promise to neither accept not give bribe.
Join the 5th pillar movement (
Volunteer your free time in the grass root activities and take leadership.
Donate one day lunch money every month to run the movement.
Spread the word to your friends and family.
The next 10 years (from now to 2020) is very crucial for us to become a developed nation. This is our last chance to leave a better nation for our future generations. If we capitalize it, we will be remembered as a generation of reformers who believed in ourselves and our future. Please think about it, talk to your friends and family, believe in the cause, contribute to the change and spread the word. We can eliminate corruption from all levels of our society before 2020.
If not us, who? If not now, when???

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Greed lands a Village Administrative Officer in Jail in Kancheepuram District

Mr. Murugesan, mason residing at Satras, in Kalpakkam near Chennai, wanted to register his father's 8 cent property in his name to be eligible for the scheme of free housing provided by the government. When he approached the Village Administrative Officer (VAO) of Meyyur, Mr. Kanniyappan, he demanded a bribe of Rs.20,000. As bribing as become a norm in our sorry state of affairs, and in order to expedite the paper work and process Mr. Murugesan, parted with Rs.20,000. But the registered patta had a wrong survey number and when he went back to the VAO to have it corrected he was again demanded Rs.10,000. He was baffled and helpless and that is when he approached 5th Pillar for support and guidance. He was directed to the office of Deputy Commissioner of Police, Vigilance and Anti corruption, Mr. Thirunavukkarasu, who initiated a sting operation to catch the VAO when he is accepting the bribe amount. VAO Kanniyappan, was caught red handed when accepting the bribe money and is currently in Madhuranthagam prison awaiting court hearing for sentencing. Let us hope that fear would instill discipline in corrupt officials.