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US NRIs hail withdrawal of RTI Act amendments

india Updated: Aug 22, 2006 16:53 IST

An umbrella organisation of NRIs in the United States has called off its plans for global hunger strikes, demonstrations and protests following the Indian government's decision to withdraw the proposed amendments to the Right to Information (RTI) Act.

Hailing the Indian government's decision, the Save Right to Information Campaign has said that the will of the people has prevailed, according to a press release.

"Congratulations and a huge thank you to all those who participated in this campaign in various capacities and reaffirmed our belief in the power of a united stand by the people," the release quoted Vishal Kudchadkar, a Los Angeles resident and one of the coordinators of the Save Right to Information Campaign, as saying.

NRI groups in the US, including several chapters of the Association for India's Development (AID), Asha for Education, Praja Net, India Friends Association, AIMS India, Indians for Collective Action, NIH Indian Association, had come together to mobilise Indians to join the Save Right to Information campaign.

The RTI Act 2005 came into force on October 12 last year.

The Act was enacted by the Parliament of India to enable the citizens of India to have access to information under the control of authorities defined to be public authorities under the Act.

According to the Act, the general public can approach public authorities including the central and state governments, government bodies, public sector companies and public sector banks to make available the information as requested.

The withdrawn amendments were seeking to exempt "file-notings" from the purview of the Act, thereby keeping the decision making process under covers.

According to the press release, AID and Asha chapters organised awareness camps and signature drives in Washington DC, Durham, Boston, Philadelphia, Bay Area, Columbus, San Diego and Chicago.

Over 5,500 Indian citizens had signed petitions and 870 sent faxes to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, urging him to reverse the amendments.

As many as 73 people across the globe joined in solidarity fasts supporting the activists on hunger strike in India, the release said.

Dedicating this victory to the hard work and tireless commitment of the grassroots activists in India, Somu Kumar, an AID volunteer based in Virginia, said, "Without the leadership of Aruna Roy, Sandeep Pandey, Anna Hazare, Arvind Kejriwal, Nikhil Dey, Sailesh Gandhi, this victory wouldn't have been possible."

Congratulating the Indian citizens who took up the cudgels in the fight against corruption, Aruna Roy, a Magsaysay awardee and a pioneer of the RTI campaign, said "It is a victory for the people - the people who voiced their concern against corruption, who took part in the protest, who filled the ballot boxes."

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