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EXPRESS 'AAM' OPINION IN STYLE
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For generations, we have been tracing the instances of the quintessential common man as a regimen with our morning cuppa. We have sympathized with him, empathized with him, related to him, smirking at the witty portrayal of the helpless you and me. But is that how we really want to be, even after 67 years of independence? We've all been victims of our rotting system, but it's time to change that. Deep within each of us is our true voice waiting to be heard, our Inner-AAM. Let's bring out the true mango of the mango man. Together, let's celebrate our mango-ness, our true identity. Let's be AAM.

I Am AAM collaborates with Srikant Jakilinki (blog:http://sriks6711.wordpress.com, portfolio: http://cworks.blogspot.comto flag of the inner AAM movement and provide a refreshing and active alternative to Laxman's Common Man.

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This  post first appeared on Srikant's blog. Readers are advised to leave comments at the post of origin.

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Whenever it passes muster that I doodle, just about everybody in India or those with roots to India mention the iconic so-called Common-Man character of R.K.Laxman to which Wikipedia has the following to say:

The Common-Man is the creation of author and cartoonist R. K. Laxman. For over a half century, the Common-Man has represented hopes, aspirations, troubles and perhaps even foibles of the average Indian, through a daily comic strip, “You Said It” in The Times of India. The comic was started in 1951.

When Laxman began to draw cartoons in The Times of India, he attempted to represent different states and cultures in India. In the rush to meet deadlines, he began to draw fewer and fewer background characters, until finally he found only one remaining – the now-familiar Common-Man who generally acts as a silent witness to all the action in the comic.

Being the contrarian that I am, just about everybody in India or those with roots to India is taken aback and fall from their smugness cloud when I reveal that I really do not like the so-called Common-Man character and that while I have no reason to disrespect Laxman as a person and even admire him for his art and drawings, I do not actually respect Laxman as an author and cartoonist for he has pissed on a great opportunity and platform. Rather than inspire people by making the recurring character an agent of change, he played his part, however miniscule, making the character hapless and clueless and in so doing, conditioned people to be suffering bovines happily quipping “arre bhai, India mein aisa hi hotha hai” with an annoying and lazy “chalta hai yaar” attitude. Before everybody in India or those with roots to India thinks that this is just my opinion, Laxman has on record parroted the same thing, “The Common-Man symbolises the mute millions of India, or perhaps the whole world, a silent spectator of marching time.”

Now one could say that maybe I am looking too much into some imagery. Could be but iconography is a powerful thing which is seldom acknowledged. Discussing imagery as iconography implies a critical “reading” of imagery that often attempts to explore social and cultural values. Allow me to make an observation. If we study imagery of icons – fictional or real – we can immediately see some patterns. For the sake of simplicity, if we just compare non-religious icons of USA and India, the noticeable icons and paragons of the Western world have been superheroes fighting evil and preserving the American way of life while the icon worthy of mention in India is arguably Common-Man who is a speechless village idiot whose inaction has created a rotting, stinking, corrupt, poor, sickening, diseased, infested, horrible, broken, polluted, communal, violent, uneducated… catch the wave, stench of an excuse of a country called India. Let this vomit throw up in your mouth and sink in.

A wise man once said to me that how we want to be treated by others is dependant on us and our actions and not the largesse and manners of others. I for one feel that the Common-Man has an Inner-AAM (Angry And Mad) that is just wanting to explode and do something about the cacophony around him. Since Laxman will continue to draw the Common-Man as a damsel in distress and sell books, give speeches, get honoured etc. by the bucketload while at it, I am taking the artistic liberty of bursting the bubble and bringing out the Inner-AAM of demure character and fight the evils, worms, leeches, maggots… get the drift, of politicians, businesses, terrorism, policegiri, supersitions, rowdyism et al. in the hope it will inspire others, yes, all of you and you, the 2 readers of this blog who could very well fall under the common-man definition or an attempt towards a definition by Udit Misra, to fight.








Now, by associating myself with I Am Aam (a seller of t-shirts with a twist), I have brought out my Inner-AAM and have joined the fight to do my bit in the way I can by immortalizing the travails and adventures of Inner-AAMs across the length and breadth of India inspired by true stories. I understand that the suspense might be killing you and you want to see what it will be like and when you can see it but the key question, and perhaps the only question that should matter is, are you in? Are you going to bring out your Inner-AAM and join the fight? We’re all waiting!

Source:Thoughtcrafts Sriks6711

Credit: Srikant Jakilinki

How to File an RTI

Lately, there has been a lot of buzz surrounding RTI or the Right to Information.It is posed as empowering the aam aadmi, scooping out the filth from the rich, corrupt and otherwise shielded. The hoopla and jargon aside, most of us are clueless about the what, why, when, where and how of it. We came across a very detailed and informative article on the RTI by a blogger Rahul Sethi. Definitely one for the aam aadmi.

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This article first appeared on  Education Bhaskar. Education Bhaskar publishes content relevant for teachers and students.

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 What is RTI?

The Right to Information(RTI) Act 2005 provides for setting out the practical regime of Right to Information for citizens to secure access to information under the control of public authorities, in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority.

When did RTI Act come into force?

The Central Right to Information  (RTI) Act came into force on the 12th October, 2005. However, before that 9 state Governments had passed state Acts. These were J & K, Delhi, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Assam & Goa.

Who is covered under RTI?

Rights available under RTI

  • 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.

Who is covered under RTI

 The Central RTI Act extends to the whole of India except the State of Jammu and Kashmir. All bodies, which are constituted under the Constitution or under any law or under any Government notification or all bodies, including NGOs, which are owned, controlled or substantially financed by the Government are covered.

Who will give you information about RTI?

One or more existing officers in every Government Department have been designated as Public Information Officers (PIO). These PIOs act like nodal officers. You have to file your applications with them. They are responsible for collecting information sought by you from various wings of that Department and providing that information to you. In addition, several officers have been appointed as Assistant Public Information Officers (APIOs). Their job is only to accept applications from the public and forward it to the right PIO.

Requirements for Filing an RTI form 

Records, documents, memos, mails, opinions, advices, press releases, circulars, images or any other computer-generated material, orders, log books, contracts, reports, papers, samples, models or data material held in electronic form.

Applicants will incur fees and costs that include, but may not be limited to the following.

 Procedure for Appeal 

Procedure for first as well as second appeal in case the applicant fails to receive RTI information within the scheduled period. This also applies to those cases where satisfactory information is not provided. Here is an overview of the appeals procedure:

  • As an applicant, an appeal has to be filed with the relevant first appellate authority within 30 days of the date that was the last day of the expiry of the 30 day time period. The appeal is to seek information.
  • Your appeal will be reviewed and disposed within 30 days of receipt or 45 days in ‘exceptional cases’.
  • As an applicant, if your appeal is not disposed or you are still left unsatisfied, you can file a second appeal to the Central Information Commission. This appeal must be within 90 days from the date that was the last day of the 30 or 45 day time period of the first appeal.
For PIO to reply to an application 30 days from date of receipt of application
For PIO to transfer to another PA under Sec 6(3) 5 days from date of receipt of application
For PIO to issue notice to 3rd Party 5 days from date of receipt of application
For 3rd Party to make a representation to PIO 10 days from receipt of notice from PIO
For PIO to reply to an application if a 3rdParty involved  40 days from date of receipt of application
For applicant to make First Appeal 30 days from date of receipt of PIO’s reply or from date when reply was to be received
For First Appellate Authority to pass an order 30 days from receipt of First Appeal OR
Maximum 45 days, if reasons for delay are given in writing
For applicant to make Second Appeal before CIC/SIC 90 days from receipt of First Appeal orders or from the date when orders were to be received
For CIC/SIC to decide Second Appeal No time limit specified

 Authorities exempt from the RTI 
The Second Schedule of the RTI Act exempts certain Public Authorities under the Central Government from disclosure of information.

  1. Intelligence Bureau (IB)
  2. Research and Analysis Wing of the Cabinet Secretariat
  3. Directorate of Revenue Intelligence
  4. Central Economic Intelligence Bureau
  5. Directorate of Enforcement
  6. Narcotics Control Bureau (NCB)
  7. Aviation Research Centre
  8. Special Frontier Force
  9. Border Security Force (BSF)
  10. Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF)
  11. Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP)
  12. Central Industrial Security Force
  13. National Security Guards
  14.  Assam Rifles
  15. Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB)
  16. Directorate General of Income-tax (Investigation)
  17. National Technical Research Organisation
  18. Financial Intelligence Unit, India
  19. Special Protection Group
  20. Defence Research and Development Organization
  21. Border Road Development Board
  22. National Security Council Secretariat
  23. Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI)
  24. National investigation Agency (NIA)
  25.  National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID)

 Penalty Provisions 

The CIC or the SIC can impose a penalty on the PIO, while deciding on a complaint or a second appeal. Penalty can be imposed if the PIO has:

  1. Refused to receive an application.
  2. Not furnished the requested information within 30 days of receiving the application
  3. Denied the request for information
  4. Knowingly given incorrect, incomplete or misleading information
  5. Destroyed information, which was the subject of the request
  6. Obstructed in any manner, in furnishing the information

The amount of penalty shall be Rs.250 per day till the information is furnished or the application is received, subject to a maximum of Rs.25,000. The penalty has to be paid by the PIO from his salary and not by the Public Authority. The CIC or the SIC will give the PIO a reasonable opportunity to be heard before the penalty is imposed. However the burden of proving that he acted reasonably shall be on the PIO.

The First Appellate Authority (FAA) or the Public Authority (PA) are not subjected to any penalty clause under the RTI Act.

RTI

Filing RTI

RTI Application

RTI Applications

Source: Education Bhaskar

Credit: Rahul Sethi

DNA Bengaluru

 Now, wear your political opinion on your sleeve. Literally

DNA, Bengaluru, February 11 2014, Tuesday, Page 2: Tired of the bad road in front of your house, or fed up of the bureaucracy and red tape in government offices? Fret not, as now you can express your frustration and concerns on a T-shirt.

Called ‘I am Aam’, the brand aims at empowering everyone to express opinions and aspirations of issues faced by the aam aadmi, through the medium of t-shirts. “We wanted to involve the urban youth in the political process, but in a simple way. To be honest, it is not possible for everyone to leave their jobs and get into active politics. Also, the urban youth would not like something that is too preachy. Hence, we decided on t-shirts, something which the youth find cool,” says Neha Shah, manager, marketing, Shop Imagine, which is manufacturing I am Aam t-shirts.
The t-shirts let the wearer express their political opinions in style. To engage them further in the political process, 100% of the profits from the sale of the t-shirts are contributed to the political party of their choice.

“Ours is an e-commerce portal. Hence, after the purchase has been made we ask the buyer if he would like to contribute the profit from his purchase to any political party. This is our own little effort to make the process transparent,” says Shah.

The designs on the t-shirts have been kept light-hearted. “I purchased the t-shirt that speaks against lal batti. The best part about this t-shirt is that it is not preachy, and it looks cool. I am not too sure whether anything will change, but at least I am able to express my opinion through what I am wearing,” says Nitya Chidambaram, a 25-year-old techie.

The company has already received 150 pre-orders. Most orders have been registered from Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore. “It is good to see the youth showing their anger at the system rather than just keeping quite about it,” says Shah.

“I am very much interested in politics. However, it is not possible for me to leave my job and join a political party. Hence, I have asked I am Aam to contribute the profits from my purchase to BJP,” says Vidyut Pande, a banker. 

“We don’t expect to change the political system through this movement. However, we definitely hope to make the disinterested urban youth more active about issues that affect people at large,” remarks Shah.

Read full article here

Source: DNA Bengaluru

Credits: Suparna Goswami Bhattacharya

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