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29 Aug 2008 21:03
Dear All,
A group called Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement has organised a
walkathon "Jagruthi Yathre" to spread awareness about RTI, Social
Audit and Rural Employment Gurantee Scheme among the rural people.
Those who are interested can join. Details are given below.


Background:  Information is power, especially in the context of rural
India.  One of the critical reasons for poverty is not just the
inability to enhance one’s income but a constant denial of opportunity
which prevents the rural poor from climbing the ladder of
development.   Our development experience of more than 20 years in
rural India has repeatedly demonstrated to us that people who are able
to access information, process them effectively and use it to their
own benefit are the ones who are more easily able to get out of
poverty. The others are condemned to merely cope with poverty.
Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement has been in the forefront of building
well informed and empowered communities. It has always believed that
development must be community driven and people must have the freedom
and resources to set and achieve their own priorities.  Swami
Vivekananda Youth Movement has also been using the right to
information act very effectively since 2005 and has first hand
experience on the power and potential of this act as a community
development tool.  We have also been advocating for Social Audit
processes which rural communities can use to assure themselves of
quality in the various programs that the government undertakes for
them.  The last few years has also shown us that RTI and Social Audit
can be very effective and powerful tools in reducing corruption and
forcing good governance practices on public service delivery
institutions.   We also understand the limitation of current
Institutions created to fight corruption and mal-administration in the
Government and are convinced that the only permanent solution lies in
empowering rural communities.

With this in mind we will be embarking on a 350 km long padayathra
(walk) from Saragur in Heggadadevanakote taluk (home of indigenous
forest dwelling tribals) to the capital city of Bangalore.  25 people
led by Dr. R. Balasubramaniam will be walking through more than 100
villages over 30 days and will be meeting and interacting with at
least 200,000 people along the way.

What are the main objectives of this Yathra: 1. To create awareness on
the RTI act, Social Audit and the NREGS scheme amongst people residing
in nearly 100 villages in the districts of Mysore, Chamarajanagar,
Mandya, Ramanagara and Bangalore.
2. To create an environment of positivity wherein people will get to
believe in the power and goodness of communities and take on the
responsibility of cleansing the system instead of merely complaining
against it.

When will the Yathra begin and end?  

Yathra will begin on the 4th of
September 2008 and will end on the 2nd of October 2008 (on Gandhi

What will be the route that will be taken?

The yathra will commence
from Saragur and proceed to Bangalore via Beerwal, Yediyala, Begur,
Gundlupet, Tarakanambi, Chamarajanagar, Yelandur, Kollegal, Malavalli
and Kanakapura.

How will the villages be reached with the messages of RTI, Social
audit and NREGS?
Interactions will be held with the people living in the villages along
the route that has been planned.  They will be told about the RTI,
Social audit processes and the NREGS scheme.  Pamphlets and other
printed material will be distributed to them for this purpose.  Book
on RTI and social Audit will also be sold at a subsidy.  (A book
costing Rs. 20 will be sold for Rs. 10).

A team of youth from different parts of the state will travel on
bicycles and will precede the team walking.  They will help in
mobilizing the people in the villages and prepare them for the ensuing

The entire team will stay overnight at a village and such night stays
has been planned every 10-12 kms.  During these night stays, the team
will perform street plays and have group discussions with the
villagers.  A list of local development issues will be prepared and
the villagers explained on how to find solutions using the RTI.

How is this different from the various politically driven yathras that
we keep hearing about?

This whole event will be completely apolitical and will be non-
confrontationist in its approach.   The entire event will be funded by
resources mobilized from the villagers themselves as one walks through
the villages.  The local villages will also be asked to take care of
the food and stay arrangements for the walkers.  People will also be
encouraged to walk from their own village to the next.  Living the
SVYM values of Ahimsa, Satya, Seva and Tyaga will be the hallmark of
the yathra.  The yathra will also serve as an opportunity for the
walkers to discover themselves and become aware of their own inner

How will this walk be funded?
No funds will be raised for the actual yathra.  Funds will only be
received for subsidizing the book on RTI and social audit and for
printing the pamphlets and posters.  All other expenses will be met
out of funds raised from the people living in the villages that one
walks through.  Not more than Rs. 10 per person will be accepted as
donation from the villagers whom we interact with during the walk.
Hospitality of the local villagers for food and stay shall be
accepted.   If any funds are left over after the completion of the
walk, the same shall be immediately used to print and distribute
informational material pertaining to RTI, Social Audit and NREGS
amongst the college students in the project areas of Swami Vivekananda
Youth Movement across Karnataka. Donations in cash or kind from our
well wishers and friends will be sought for the purchase of 15
bicycles. The youth using these cycles will be allowed to retain them
after the walk is over.

How can we participate?

You can participate by
-       talking about RTI and Social Audit amongst your friends and
-       spreading the message of positive community action and helping
people get over their inertia and cynicism with regard to
participating in India’s development
-       join us in the walk.  You can walk as far and as much as you like.
If you intend walking the entire distance, then you need to contact us
before hand.
-       Arrange for group meetings and public lectures in key places along
the way and in the cities of Bangalore, Mysore, Chamarajanagar, Mandya
-       Contribute towards the purchase of bicycles
-       Contribute towards the printing of the books on RTI, pamphlets etc
-       Spread the message of this event to as many people as possible

Whom should we contact for more information?
Please contact:
Dr. R. Balasubramaniam
Swami Vivekananda Youth Movement
Hanchipura road, Saragur, Heggadevanakote taluk,
Mysore district, 57121
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