Arvind Kejriwal - an undaunted fighter for human rights
A common man of high will power who changed the life of all other common men faces corruption at every stage of life, who saw corruption as a leech gradually engulf the entire country, who dreamt of a country free from corruption and magnificently brought life with blend of hope and bated breath is none other than the Arvind Kejriwal.
The forty-year old eminent leader and activist was initially like other common person, but his works and achievements esteems him a position unparallel to his contemporaries.
His remarkable and selfless work accolades him the Ramon Magsaysay Award often considers Asia’s Nobel Prize in 2006 for Emergent Leadership for his contributions to the landmark Right to Information (RTI) law in India and for activating the right to information movement at the grassroots.
His inspirational work empowered Indian citizens to battle against corruption and the constant undaunted efforts have uncovered gigantic laundering of funds and corruption in various government offices and projects.
A graduate in engineering from IIT-Kharagpur with a B Tech in Mechanical Engineering and a former bureaucrat with the Indian Revenue Service (IRS), Arvind Kejriwal resigned from his service eventually and devoted his life completely to fray corruption in India.
But the decision was not instant. It took six to seven years in taking shape more from anger and frustration rather than inspiration.
As a tax officer with the Indian Revenue Service, he became aware of the many powers that tax officials held over common citizens and how easily these powers could be abused.
To fight in an organised manner, he founded Parivartan (means, change) and Indian based citizens’ movement, which has been fraying for just, transparent, and accountable governance and created a silent social revolution in the Right to Information (RTI) movement in the country.
Inspiring from Gandhiji he used the same non-violent method of fighting with people of his own flock practicing corruption dipped from foot to head into it.
While working as a tax office in the IRS he gradually came face-to-face of the corruption prevalent in the government department owing to lack of transparency in the process and so the actual son-of-the-soil commenced crusading against the corrupt practices.
His relentless work bore the fruit and the much-needed Delhi Right to Information Act was passed in 2001.
Propelling common people to appeal to the Act, he tried to rationalise the Public Distribution System (PDS) in Delhi where information obtained under the RTI revealed that how below corruption had made house among the government department. The information revealed the shopkeepers and food grain officers siphoned off 87 percent of wheat and 94 percent of rice meant for the poor.
Viewing Delhi RTI Act as an effective tool to fight corruption, the Indian Parliament eventually passed the Right to Information Act (RTI) in 2005.
Besides Ramon Magsaysay Award, he was also bestowed with other honours comprising Ashoka Fellowship (since 2004) and the Satyendra Dubey Award from IIT Kanpur (2005).
The most significant change of perception that came into his post award winning life is the shift in attitude from “nothing will change; this is India,” to “yes! We can change things if we try enough.”