RTI query? Tune into FM radio

February 1st, 2009 - 11:16 am ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 1 (IANS) You usually tune into FM radio for Bollywood hits and chartbusters. Now you have one reason more. Tune into the weekly programme that recently started on FM-rainbow (102.6 mhz) and have your queries on the Right to Information (RTI) Act answered.The hour-long weekly show has been started by a non-governmental organisation, Kabir. The NGO has been working on the issue of RTI for several years.

The programme is aired at 5 p.m. every Sunday. The first episode went on air Jan 4.

Asked what prompted it to start such a programme, Neeraj Kumar of Kabir said the idea struck them when a radio producer approached them for making one-minute advertisements on RTI.

“A few months ago, a radio producer approached us. He wanted us to make one-minute advertisements on RTI for radio channels. It was then that this idea struck us,” Kumar told IANS.

“Our RTI campaign is already going on through television channels, newspapers and through mouth to mouth publicity. We have also made several small films on RTI. So we thought we could also have a radio programme to make people aware of the issue,” Kumar said.

“All of us then brainstormed and finally decided to start the programme. The response since our first episode has been fabulous and is increasing,” he added.

The NGO had first bought the slots for three months and is now planning to buy slots for the rest of 2009.

Besides Delhi, the programme is being relayed by several AIR stations in Kochi, Jammu, Aligarh, Kanpur, Kasauli, Mussorie, Kurseong and Shillong.

“We have received a great response till now and received hundreds of calls. After every programme, we at Kabir receive at least 30-40 calls. The maximum number of calls we got was from people in the age group of 20-30 years,” Kumar said.

“Some of the callers have general queries about the act and its usefulness. There are some who need to be slightly encouraged for filling an RTI application and want basic information about fees.”

Some have very specific queries and want help regarding hurdles they are facing in getting information from government departments.

“We are getting calls from Uttar Pradesh, Bihar, Goa, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh. The encouraging part is that the calls are also from remote areas of these states. We have queries from villages, where we were not able to reach earlier,” he added.

Two RTI activists, Manish Sisodia and Priyanka Tyagi, who work with Kabir, host the show, though they are not trained radio anchors. In between, they play music too.

“I have taken a break from my journalistic career. For the last one and a half years I have been working with Kabir and handling film production for them,” said Tyagi, 32. He was earlier working with a news channel.

“At Kabir, I covered a lot of RTI success stories and made videos on them. I also conduct workshops on RTI. We chose radio to reach a larger audience.”

However, all those who have missed earlier episodes can listen in on Kabir’s website www.kabir.org.in.

“While still in Boston (USA), I have just finished hearing the first two episodes. I congratulate Manish and Priyanka for making this programme, it is not only educative but interesting too for a common person. Good job done,” said Lokesh K. Batra, a social activist.

(Mayank Aggarwal can be contacted at mayank.a@ians.in)

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