Commitment to transparent functioning

We at Pardarshita strongly feel that while we demand the government departments to be transparent with everyone, we also have a duty of maintaining transparency in terms of our own work, expenditures, funding and so on. So, to re-iterate our commitment towards ethical and pardarshi work, we invite anyone to inspect our books of accounts.

Friday, 8 January 2010

Pardarshita: Annual Report from April 2007-March 2008
About the organization:
Pardarshita is an organization formed with the aim to fight corruption and ensure transparency and accountability in the public governance systems thereby empowering the marginalized sections of the society and improve their living conditions.
The goal of this organization is to spread awareness about Right to Information and empower common people to use tool to ensure access to his/her rights and entitlements.
Pardarshita works in different slums of East and North East districts of Delhi.
Objectives of the organization:
• To create awareness amongst the community about their rights
• To make the governance more accountable and transparent
• To conduct research on different government run schools
• To motivate the marginalized section of the society to minimize their dependency and create sustainable systems
• To ensure child rights by ensuring right to education
• To form community based groups
Main Activities:
The activities of Pardarshita are mainly focused to deal with problems of the community. The organization has taken up issues based on the need of the people of the community in which they work. Given below are the details of the activities undertaken by Pardarshita in the last one year.
1. Admissions in private /public schools under Economically Weaker Section (EWS) quota:
Approximately 361 schools in Delhi have received land from the Delhi Government at extremely subsidized rates on the condition that in return these schools reserve 25% seats for the children of economically weaker sections (EWS) in their schools, a condition continually violated. The reasons given for not fulfilling such conditions are that if such children are allowed to enrol in their schools it will destroy the school’s environment that caters to the needs of the elite of the society. But the real reason for refusing admission to EWS is the drastic reduction in income that these schools make through donations.
Apart from the schools, three other parties are guilty of violation of the Constitutional Right to Education as well as the terms and conditions for allotting land at concessional rates:
• The Delhi Government and Municipal Corporation of Delhi have failed to ensure that all Unaided Recognised Private Schools in Delhi (to whom public land have been conditionally allotted) to comply with the conditions of allotment of lands in regard to admission to the children (25 per cent belonging to the EWS of society and grant freeship to them)
• The Delhi Government has failed to frame rules or policies regarding provision for education to the children belonging to EWS of society by all Unaided Recognized Private schools in Delhi.
The Union of India, Delhi Development Authority, Delhi Government and Municipal Corporation of Delhi have failed to take action against erring unaided recognized private schools for non-compliance with the conditions on which public lands have been allotted to them.
Pardarshita took the issue and did the following:
• The different schools entitled to come under the EWS scheme were identified. Around 31 schools were identified for work, in Dilshad Garden (3 schools), Nandnagari (2 schools ), Preet Vihar (6 schools), Vivek Vihar (3 schools), Mayur Vihar (5 schools), Kalyan Puri (2 schools), Vasundhara Enclave (2 schools) Vinod Nagar (2 schools), Karkardooma (3 schools) and IP Extension (3 schools)
• Right to Information applications were filed to access information on these schools.
• Families from the clusters in and around these schools were identified who could be probable beneficiaries, based on the criterion that the annual income of the family was less than 1 lakh per annum and were interested and eager to get their children admitted in these private/public schools.
• Next, the families were assisted with the process of documentation required for the admission process. This included helping them acquire all the necessary papers, certificates etc.

Simultaneously, networking was done with other NGOs working in the field of education about admissions in private/public schools under EWS provisions. Different workshops were held with these NGOs and groups to make them aware about the rules and regulations.
• Pardarshita volunteers then accompanied respective parents and children to the schools in the nearby locality, where they often faced rejection from the school authorities.
• This was followed by a long series of running around, where several complaints were filed against the concerned school authorities in the office of The Deputy Director of Education Department.
• Since no action was taken on any of the complaints filed by the aggrieved parents, Right to Information applications were filed asking for the status of these complaints.
• Immediate action was taken on the applications and was followed by admissions in the respective schools.
• Groups of active parents were formed in different areas, which further assisted other desiring parents for consecutive admissions in the respective areas.
• This process also helped in creating awareness amongst the community regarding their rights.
• Awareness was created amongst other NGOs and groups working in the area of education, which helped in spreading the impact of the work.
• Advocacy with the education department facilitated the admissions
Number of admissions in 31 schools: 250
2. Public Distribution System:
The public distribution system (PDS) ensures the distribution of essential items such as selected cereals, sugar and kerosene at subsidized prices to holders of ration cards. The PDS also helps to modulate open - market prices for commodities that are distributed through the system. The Department of Food & Civil Supplies, Govt. of Delhi, manage the PDS in Delhi by enforcing the Essential Commodities Act, 1955, and various Control Orders made there under.
However, it is also a known fact that the people across the country face different problems in respect to issues of PDS. Pardarshita started identified PDS as one of the potential problems faced by people in slums of New Seemapuri and Sunder Nagari. The problems faced were:
• People received less ration than what was entitled to them
• The essential commodities given under both BPL and Antodaya card at prices at par with the market price
• In cases were the families could acquire their ration, the shopkeepers cheated them by giving them lesser quantity of ration
• The qualities of the commodities given were found to be very poor.
• Families were often send back by the ration shopkeepers with false reasons that the designated ration had not arrived.
• Cards were not delivered to the entitled families rather they were illegally kept by the ration shopkeepers. These shopkeepers then faked the signatures of the families and siphoned their entitled rations to local markets for vested interests.
Scheme            Rate (Rs)             Quantity (Kg)
                          Wheat    Rice       Wheat    Rice   Sugar                 Kerosene
APL                      6.80       9.00       25          10        NA                    9.5 litres@Rs.9.09
BPL                       4.65       6.15       25          10       6 kg @Rs 13.50  22 litres@Rs.9.09
AAY                      2            3           25          10       6 kg@ Rs 13.50  22 litres@Rs.9.09
Area of work: New Seemapuri and Sundernagari.
No.of household:
The volunteers of Pardarshita undertook the following activities to deal with the problems mentioned:
• Awareness of created amongst the community regarding the
a) entitled quantity of the different commodities
b) types of ration cards
c) price of the different commodities under each type of ration card
d) timings of the ration shops
• The community was made aware about the Right to Information Act, which they could use to ask for records and status of their ration cards.
• Several workshops were held with community people on RTI focusing especially on the problems of PDS. These workshops were held across different districts in Delhi
• Several RTI applications were filed to take out records of ration shops, which helped in exposing the irregularities. RTI applications were also filed to track status of ration cards.
• Continuous advocacy was done with the concerned government departments, ration shopkeepers and community to help in regularise the system.
• The corruption in the whole system of public distribution was revealed
• Community got aware about their rights and entitlements
• Strong community groups were formed, which later helped in creating a watch groups in the community to monitor the proper functioning of the ration shops.
• The ration cards, which were illegally confiscated by the ration shopkeepers, were distributed to the deserving families.
• There was proper monitoring of the ration shops by the concerned Food inspectors
• The quality and quantity of the commodities were improved.
No. of Household:
No. of Ration shops: New Seemapuri: 12 shops, Sundarnagari: 17 shops
No. of Ration cards released: 300 cards approximately
3. Right to Information Workshops:
RTI stands for Right to Information. Right to Information is a part of fundamental rights under Article 19(1) of the Constitution. Article 19 (1) says that every citizen has freedom of speech and expression. As early as in 1976, the Supreme Court said in the case of Raj Narain vs State of UP that people cannot speak or express themselves unless they know. Therefore, right to information is embedded in article 19. In the same case, Supreme Court further said that India is a democracy. People are the masters. Therefore, the masters have a right to know how the governments, meant to serve them, are functioning. Further, every citizen pays taxes. Even a beggar on the street pays tax (in the form of sales tax, excise duty etc) when he buys a piece of soap from the market. The citizens therefore, have a right to know how their money was being spent. The Supreme Court while saying that RTI is a part of our fundamental rights laid down these three principles.
This is because if you went to any Government Department and told the officer there, “RTI is my fundamental right, and that I am the master of this country. Therefore, please show me all your files”, he would not do that. In all probability, he would throw you out of his room. Therefore, we need machinery or a process through which we can exercise this fundamental right. Right to Information Act 2005, which became effective on 13th October 2005, provides that machinery. Therefore, Right to Information Act does not give us any new right. It simply lays down the process on how to apply for information, where to apply, how much fees etc.
Right to Information Act 2005 empowers every citizen to
 Ask any questions from the Government or seek any information
 Take copies of any government documents
 Inspect any government documents.
 Inspect any Government works
 Take samples of materials of any Government work.
Several Right to Information workshops were held in different districts of Delhi and other States. The following workshops were held:
• Two days workshop on RTI with employees and volunteers of CFAR, Jaipur
• Four days workshop on RTI with employees and community people across eight districts with SCRIA, Haryana
• Five days workshop on RTI with different organisations like Pani and others in Eastern Uttar Pradesh
• Conducted RTI workshops for different government departments like Narcotics, Central Exercise and Customs in Delhi, Jaipur and Chandigrah. Similar workshops were also held with District Administration of Sitapur and Hardoi districts of Western U.P.
• Conducted RTI workshop for Assam Administrative Staff in Guwahati.
• Similar workshops and training programs on RTI were also held with various grassroots and other organisations across the country.
4. Monitoring of MCD Schools:
The status of schools run by Municipal Corporation of Delhi is deteriorating with the passage of time. The different problems that plague these schools are:
Inadequate infrastructure in government schools -
(a) Lack of basic amenities
(b) Tin classrooms for the students – inhuman and barbaric
(c) New school buildings being constructed without the basic facilities like ramps and special toilets for the children and teachers with disabilities
(d) Sub-standard construction of school buildings
(e) DDA not providing land to government for new schools
(f) Supply of contaminated drinking water to the children in schools
Several complaints regarding irregularities in the MCD schools were brought into notice of Pardarshita volunteers, from the community. Acting on this the Pardarshita intervened into the issue. Pardarshita has worked in 5 MCD schools in Sundernagari (1school), Seemapuri (2 schools), Nandnagari (1 school), and Dilshad Colony (1 school). The following activities were undertaken:
• Regular monitoring of schools on :
a) infrastructure
b) electricity
c) drinking water
d) midday meal quality checked
e) cleanliness and basic hygiene of schools and surroundings
• Involved communities and formed watch groups of parents of children
• Admissions of children in MCD schools were facilitated in different areas of East Delhi
• Assisted people in the process of the admission when authorities created difficulties for parents
• Motivated watch groups among communities were formed who kept constant vigil on different activities of these schools.
• Electricity connections were reinstalled in these schools. Fans and lights were installed.
• The basic infrastructures of the schools were improved. The ceilings of the school buildings were repaired.
• The quality and quantity of the Midday meals were improved and regularised.

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