Whats woke me up ..
It had been a great sleep, till now, enjoying every bit of my dream world. A Dream World, that for me, until now has been very real !!
With a Stable job in one of the best companies in the world and happily settled in the US, What has suddenly woken this electronics engineer ?
Why is it suddenly, I have stopped liking my biryani or my GlenFiddich 15.
Why am I suddenly following a 74 yr. old guy called Anna and lady called Shehla Masood instead of following NFL and cricket.
Discussions about corruption/pollution etc. in India is a very common topic in almost every other social gatherings/parties in the US. I myself am guilty of participating in these useless discussions. Discussions that invariably turn into heated arguments, depending on the spiciness of the biryani & number of pegs gulped.
But the futility of these mundane talks, apart from being irritating, did a a much bigger damage to myself. My fears of not being able to survive in India any more just got strengthened every time I had these discussions or visited “home” briefly
But the dream continued and the excuses for not facing the reality also grew and along with that … hidden somewhere deep within, some kind of a unexplainable guilt also grew !
And then I woke up one day (or was it in the night). A 75 yr. old Anna goes on a hunger strike and seeing that live on TV in US, kept me awake the whole night .. and nights after that.
The “Guilt” now became more pronounced. A Guilt , that till now, I could easily scoff at and ignore, was not going away, anywhere !!
I was now wide awake and … THINKING …!!
I was now reading voraciously about Anna, his team and their solution called Jan Lokpal Bill. I am reading it only to find faults and loopholes .. just so, that I can say to myself ‘that these guys are just like everybody else”. But I could not !!
And somewhere in this reading journey, I learn about RTI and learn about Ms. Shehla Masood and many others like her. I also find out about this 19 yr. old IIT-Kharagpur 3rd Computer Science Student, who was admitted to the hospital, after fasting with Anna for 14 days.
He gets discharged from the hospital and within few days, starts a new fast for Ms.Masood’s Justice. …
And here I am , discussing about the loop-holes & faults of JanLokpal Bill in plush drawing rooms getting intoxicated in my luxurious lifestyle
That’s when I decided, lets do something. Something, that can redeem myself from this guilt and be constructive. Something meaningful, so that I can sleep the night better. Enough of excuses and mundane/pointless discussions .
Team Anna’s solution based approach inspired me to find my own solution. 700+ phone calls thru 3 whole nights (day time in India) to the PMO, Rashtrapathy Bhavan/DPC. Recorded few of them thru my smart-phone/uploaded it to youtube and made it viral on every social media site. Called a lot of TV news channel and got it broadcasted as much as possible.
This activity, got me in touch with more passionate people and we started discussing on how to continue the mission.
So, in our own unique way, we are now creating a platform for all RTI activists to file for RTI’s anonymously.
A movement, initiated and inspired by Ms. Shehla Masood, this will at least provide one solution for the lack of whistleblower act, currently unavailable.
All that the RTI activist has to do is give us the list of questions, department name etc.. Our organization (www.getup4change.org) will file the RTI on their behalf, from outside India.
Once the reply is available, we courier them all the docs with an authority letter. The authority letter will help PIL activists to use it, in filing various cases.
The identity of the RTI activist, would be completely anonymous. Every incriminating docs, obtained through RTI’s will be scanned and uploaded to this website.
Hopefully after all this, I can go back and sleep peacefully and tell my grand-kids .. I was part of a team, that did something meaningful and effective.
Hopefully, I can then continue enjoying that biryani and that peg of whiskey, without having to know that people (who CAN afford to eat) are actually on hunger strikes I want to make that difference, so that I am no more scared to come back to my home country and build my dream world there. And yes, I do not want to be so wide awake on a friday midnight 3:45 AM, writing an article, first time in my 39 years of existence.
Designation : Sr. Staff Engineer
Company : Seagate Technology
Phone No. 720 318 1826
Email : firstname.lastname@example.org
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About the Author
Anand Sharma is a a digital design (IC Design) engineer, who has lived in the US for about 12 years. He is from Sagar (Karnataka) and in currently based in Longmont-CO.
This is the first time, he has ever involved himself in any kind of social activism.
Post Anna Movement, he has been very actively involved in various social activism and is currently in the process of setting up an NGO in India for RTI activism. He is also helping various other NGO’s and social forums, in different ways.