"Time mila toh I'll think about politics" : TOI feature on One of the youngest RTI activists Lucknow girl Aishwarya Parashar
Jul 24 2015 : The Times of India (Lucknow)
Time mila toh I'll think about politics
One of the youngest RTI activists, city girl Aishwarya Parashar has been asking the government pertinent questions about civic issues, governance and Indian history
Thirteen-year-old Aishwarya Parashar has as many RTI queries to her name as her age, making her one of the youngest RTI activists in the country . The Class IX student of CMS Rajajipuram filed her first RTI query at the age of seven, and there has been no stopping her since then. From questions pertaining to her History classes that her teacher can't answer to governance matters in the country , Aishwarya's RTI applications have even left the concerned authorities stumped at the little girl's knack for questioning.
MY MOM TAUGHT ME ABOUT RTI
"My mother, Urvashi Sharma, is a social activist. She would hold sessions with people every Sunday who would come and discuss their problems with her. When I was in Class 3, I heard her telling a few people about the Right to Information. It was then that I came to know what it is," says Aishwarya, as she goes on to tell us about her first RTI query . "I was in Class III only and there was this garbage house right outside our school. Everybody used to complain about it, but to no avail. I filed an RTI to the CM Office asking who would take responsibility if any of the kids fell ill because of the unhygienic condition outside our school. Within a month, the garbage house was cleared and now, a library has been constructed there. Because of the prompt action taken then, I knew it was an effective tool," she adds.
FROM CLEAN GANGA TO FATHER OF THE NATION
Aishwarya's queries have ranged from local civic issues to more pertinent questions about the country's history . Like her 2012 query to the PMO on the title of `Father of the Nation' given to Mahatma Gandhi."I had read in my history books that Gandhiji was called Father of the Nation. But who gave him that title, since when was he called that and if there was an official order there was no information on that. So I filed an RTI to the Prime Minister's Office, which kept being forwarded to different departments for a long time. Finally , I came to know that the earliest reference of the title was in a speech by Subhash Chandra Bose and there was no official order related to it," she explains.
Aishwarya's latest RTI was addressed to the CM Office in UP and the PMO, seeking details on the funds spent and the meetings called in FY 2014-15 and 2015-16 in the Clean Gomti and Clean Ganga campaigns.
"I filed the query in May 2015. The response I got was that the central government had not spent any money on the campaign in FY 2015-16," she says.
Another RTI by Aishwarya which turned out to be quite a revelation was regarding hockey being the national game of India. "I wanted to know when had the government issued an order to announce the country's national game, and the response I got from the Ministry of Youth Affairs was that there was no official order or notification which gives hockey the status of national game!" she says.
PEOPLE THINK FILING AN RTI IS A VERY CUMBERSOME PROCESS
Aishwarya has encouraged her friends and teachers to get RTI-friendly . "It is a misconception that filing an RTI is a long process. I just write the application, pay the `10 application fee by Indian Postal Order and send it to the concerned office by speed post. Initially, I would take my mother's help, but now I can do it on my own," says Aishwarya, adding, "After seeing me, a few of my friends and even my father have also started filing RTIs." Ask her about the problems she faces and she says nonchalantly , "Kabhi kabhi RTI transfer kar dete hain. Kabhi response delay ho jaata hai jisse appeal file karne ka time nikal jaata hai. In that case, I have to file the RTI again. But I haven't faced any hassles as such."
I WANT TO BECOME A CARDIOLOGIST
Like other girls her age, Aishwarya is extremely fond of singing and dancing. "Now studies are so much, I don't get much for my hobbies, but I used to attend dance classes when I was in Class VI," says Aishwarya, who aspires to be a cardiologist. "I want to become a heart specialist, but my friends keep saying I should become a politician. But first I'll concentrate on becoming a doctor, phir time mila toh I'll think about politics," she says candidly .
SHE'S ALWAYS HAD A QUESTIONING ATTITUDE
Aishwarya's mother, Urvashi Sharma, attributes Aishwarya's affinity for RTIs to her inquisitive nature. "Bachpan se hi Aishwarya aisi hi rahi hai kya ho raha hai, kyun ho raha hai, she's always been very questioning. She reads the newspapers and all her queries from her classes or current matters which we or her teachers can't answer, she files an RTI for the same," says Urvashi.
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