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Parivartan agitates for the Right to Information

Arvind Kejriwal's team at Parivartan has used available laws to improve street level governance

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For a democracy to amount to more than a mere ceremony of elections, it must have dynamic media, courts and laws. India has a reasonable set of these. But that's not enough. A democracy further needs leaders who will marshall these resources to serve people. For over a decade, pioneers like Aruna Roy in Rajasthan and Anna Hazare in Maharashtra have striven for just that, after zeroing in on denial of information as democracy's most crippling disease.

Lack of transparency creates the musty environment in which vermin of oppression thrive. Due largely to the efforts of Roy and Hazare, India has begun to evolve Right to Information [RTI] laws.

Even that is not enough. What a maturing democracy needs are ordinary people who believe they have the power to make laws stick; people like Arvind Kejriwal and his team at Parivartan in Delhi.

Development puzzle:

Arvind excitedly protests the focus on him. "I am but one of my team," he says. True, but since we must begin from somewhere, his life is good place to do that.

Nothing in his background foretells what he has become. He was born in Hissar in Haryana in 1968 and knew no deprivation at all, as his father was a well employed engineer. Arvind went to the prestigious IIT, Kharagpur and graduating in 1989, joined Tata Steel. Within 3 years however, he was a restless man.

"While at IIT I noticed government service was an option many students considered," he says."I won't say we were all driven by great social concerns, but deep inside was the vague feeling that one can make a difference from within the government."

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