Talks on Mumbai's Infrastructure Problems & Upcoming Programmes
As the country reels from unusually heavy rains, our focus at Moneylife Foundation had to shift a little to road infrastructure, traffic, social audits and safety issues. Last month I told you about the amazing work of the Citizens Technical Advisory group, which we were proud to help catalyse.
This month we had invited Mustaq Ansari, Dadarao Bilhore and Irfan Machhiwala to speak about their effort to protect lives by doing the municipality's job of filling potholes. We learned that Mr Bilhore draws strength and inspiration from the tragic death of his son Prakash Bilhore whose death was the direct result of a pothole. Taking charge of the situation, Mr Bilhore now travels across Mumbai in his spare time, filling potholes wherever he finds them.
The session was well attended by concerned citizens and activists alike. The discussion that ensued post session was made more interesting with many well-known activists sharing their views on the issue of citizens being forced to take on the job of the state even after paying taxes.
This session was followed by an enlightening talk by Dhawal Ashar of the World Resources Institute on how the application of science, data and planning can help decongest seemingly intractable traffic nightmares. Do check out his talk on "How to Decongest Mumbai's Roads".
We have been busy with the planning of our two major events coming up in September. Our 2nd Annual RTI lecture to be delivered by none other than Justice Santosh Hegde (retd), one of India's most respected legal minds on the 21st at the BSE.
The second major event will be held a few days later on the 23rd with Dinesh Thakur, the famous Ranbaxy whistleblower enlightening us on How Pharma Companies Fudge Data at the Walchand Hirachand Hall, IMC.
We also have a book launch planned in the second half of September for Dr. Subramanian Swamy, who is launching his new book, "Reset - Regaining India's Economic Legacy" on 30th Sept, 2019 at the BSE. We are currently in the initial planning stages and further details regarding the event will be shared with you shortly.
Programmes conducted in August
The session we organised for discussion on Mumbai's growing problem with potholes was attended not only by the members of Pothole Warriors (https://twitter.com/PotholeWarriors ) but also by other activists such as Sudhir Badami, Samir Zaveri, Vidyadhar Date, AV Shenoy and more. The main speakers for the session, Mr Bilhore and Mr Ansari, shared their perspective and approach to resolving the problem of pothole riddled roads, while a few attendees disagreed with their approach saying it was amateurish and caused more harm than help. The session also saw the presence of Advocate Trivankumar Kirnani who offered his opinion on the issue of Mumbai's potholes from a legal perspective. If you were unable to attend you can still watch the video recording on our YouTube Channel and read more about it here .
In our second session on Mumbai's crumbling infrastructure, Dhawal Ashar from the World Resources Institute (WRI) gave an enlightening presentation on Decongesting Mumbai' Roads through smart design and a scientific approach. His talk emphatically stressed that street design should always place pedestrians at the foremost, allowing vehicular transport to adjust accordingly. As always the video of this important session is also uploaded on YouTube and you can read more about it here
While RTI is an extremely useful tool for getting information, what matters the most is how we use that information. In order to hold the government accountable, invariably the citizens should come forward and take charge. The best way they can do this is by conducting social audits, thereby questioning the government on their expenses and their promises. We had invited renowned activist Bhaskar Prabhu to help us better Understand Social Audits - their process and how the RTI act empowers social audits. Mr Prabhu's talk was filled with successful examples of social audits that his group has conducted and encouraged the attendees to also follow in his footsteps to hold the government accountable. In case you missed the session and wish to learn more about this subject, you can check out our recording of the session on our YouTube page
As I am sure you are aware, through our RTI Centre, we have constantly been trying to educate citizens about the RTI act and are building an eco-system of RTI activists, PIOs, colleges students and academics in the hopes of spreading awareness and also perhaps demanding transparency from the government. In this respect, we have continued conducting RTI session for students of law colleges and other institutes. This month we organised 3 separate RTI workshops for the students of Wilson College, St. Xavier's College and Lord's Universal College where retd. Central Information Commissioner Shailesh Gandhi explained the provisions of the act and also assisted students with framing RTI queries post session. Video recordings of these sessions are all available on our YouTube Channel (Wilson College,St. Xavier's College,Lord's Universal College).
While citizen activism is required to make the RTI act work efficiently, the role of public authorities and government employees is equally important, as they are the ones who answer RTI queries. In our own way to help Public Information Officers (PIOs) better understand that Act and perhaps better answer the RTI applications they receive, we had conducted a workshop for PIOs of Mira-Bhayandar Muncipal Corporation with the assistance of Satyakaam Foundation.
Apart from these RTI workshops, Shailesh Gandhi also conducted a session for members of Moneylife Foundation on Basics of the RTI act and Recent Amendments to the Act. A video of this session will soon be uploaded to our YouTube Channel.
We are also open to conducting such RTI workshops at your institution or organisation at absolutely no cost to you. All we would require is access to your meeting hall or an auditorium for a seating of more than 100 people. Please feel free to write to us at [email protected] with your requests or suggestions.
In the coming months we are planning to conduct more unique interesting talks on RTI. If you are in Mumbai, please take advantage of the opportunity to come and learn from our experts. If you are not in Mumbai and cannot come down to our Knowledge Centre for the event, you can still watch it live on Facebook or watch the video recording on our YouTube Channel.
The Moneylife TV has reached over 30.079 lakh views with almost 28,888 active subscribers. You can watch our videos from almost any part of the globe and enrich yourself. If you do not want to miss out on any of our videos then do subscribe to the Moneylife channel on YouTube here.
In an attempt to help citizens across the country get access to our sessions, we also live-stream them on our Facebook page live as they happen. Do like our Facebook Page so that you get constant updates of events. During events, you can also pose your questions and get it resolved from our experts.
In case you are not a member of Moneylife Foundation, then do subscribe. Membership is completely free and join our family of over 1,11,300+ others so that you receive updates to our events, their coverage as well as access to our extremely valuable Credit Helpline and Legal Resource Centre absolutely free. To join now, click here
Legal Resource Centre: We have handled 2,030 queries since inception, thanks to the generous help and guidance by senior activists.
Every Monday, Mumbai-based "Free Press Journal" is publishing a column "Your Housing Problems & Solutions" based on queries answered by our Experts at the LRC. So far, we have provided answers to more than 227 queries from readers of the newspaper.
Our FREE Credit Helpline has answered over 3,822 cases. Spread the word, so that those with a low score can get help from us.
Remember, you can benefit from our work from all over the globe through our videos and helplines (Credit Helpline and Legal Resource Centre). They are all offered free of charge, but please do reciprocate by introducing our work to at least 10 people and getting them to become members. Also, if you have benefited from our work and would like to show your support, you can donate.
Thank you for your support and look forward to your good wishes always.
Founder-Trustee, Moneylife Foundation
Trustees: TS Krishnamurthy, Dr KC Chakrabarty, Walter Vieira, Sucheta Dalal, Debashis Basu and Dr Anupam Saraph. Special Invitee: Adv Jamshed Mistry
Moneylife Foundation is registered with the Charity Commissioner of Mumbai, is an Affiliate member of OECD's International Network on Financial Education, is a Supporter Member of Consumers International, Development Partner of Advocates for International Development (A4ID), and is a winner of the 10th MR Pai Memorial Award.
Donations are eligible for tax benefits under Sec 80G of the Income Tax 1961 (50% tax exemption) and MLF is registered under the Foreign Contribution (Regulation) Act, 2010.