Empower Yourself: A Hand book for Citizens
Author : Mohammad Naushad
The definition of knowledge to my mind is “information applied”. For instance one can boast to posses the “knowledge” that by putting an electric bulb on, it gives us the light. But if he does not put the bulb on and see for himself the spread of light, it becomes only an “information” that he possessed.
We have many intellectuals among us who are known to posses immense “knowledge” but in my opinion Indian Muslims can not be empowered unless the knowledge that they possess is applied. In other words, if we don’t apply the knowledge that we have with us, possessing it is of no use.
Universal Knowledge Trust has brought a booklet that has a treasure of information. The readers can empower themselves not only to make their survival better but that of their brethren. The book penned by Mohammad Naushad is of tremendous value for weaker sections, particularly Indian Muslim who in present circumstances feel morally down, helpless, discriminated, devoid of guidance and leadership.
The hand book for citizens, “Empower Yourself” provides useful information on basic tools of empowerment to citizens especially the aggrieved ones. The book has 10 chapters beside preface and editor’s note. Thru these chapters, a citizen is imparted crucial information and guided on Ã¢â‚¬â€œ his fundamental rights, how to start an NGO for community work, right to information, public interest litigation (PIL) , FIR, what to do when detailed or arrested, interacting with media, human right commission and consumer law and rights.
I hope that the readers shall be benefited from the information that this book provides them and if they apply these information for their and community’s betterment, can be knowledgeable on the aspects that the books deals in.
The excerpts from each chapter of this book are given below.
1. FUNDAMENTAL RIGHTS
The Constitution offers all citizens, individually and collectively, some basic Fundamental Rights enshrined in the Part III contained in Article 12 to 35 of the Constitution of India. This guarantees civil liberties so that all Indians can lead their lives in peace and harmony.
Rights literally mean those freedoms which are essential for personal good as well as the good of the community. The rights guaranteed under the Constitution of India are fundamental as they have been incorporated into the Fundamental Law of the Land and are enforceable in a court of law. These Fundamental Rights help not only in protection but also the prevention of gross violations of human rights. These rights are in the form of seven broad categories, which are justiciable.
2. STARTING AN NGO
The general purpose of an Non Government Organisation (NGO) is to render service to humanity. An NGO is perceived to be an association of persons or a body of individuals, with a definite name and objective. It may be registered or unregistered. Legal character is acquired only after registration (incorporation) of the association of persons under any of the applicable laws. Here is provided an outline of the general steps needed for starting and incorporating an NGO. Detailed instructions for each of these steps can be obtained from local governments or social support groups.
3. SCHEMES FOR NGOS AND ORGANISATIONS
For quite long Muslims in the country have been harping on neglect by the government of India and the persecution by the Sangh Parivar. Both these allegations may be true to a certain extent but not totally. Muslim organizations and institutions have been loud on accusations about neglect of the community by the government, but are rarely seen coming up with any program for development of the community. Never have they been seen coming out trying to learn about the government’s support programs for their community, non governmental organizations running of educational institutions, crÃƒÂ¨ches, health facilities, legal aid, programs for the benefit of the elderly, women, widows, environmental conservation, water harvesting or water management etc. Leave aside the thought of availing of and using this fund, it is ironic that Muslim organizations rarely even know about these support programs of the government.
4. RIGHT TO INFORMATION
Freedom of Information has been recognized by the United Nations as ‘a fundamental human right and touchstone for all freedoms’. Giving it prominence Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The real Swaraj will come not by acquisition of authority by a few, but by the acquisition of the ‘capacity’ by all to resist authority, when abused.”
Today, around 60 countries have passed right to information legislation. Of late, on 12th October 2005, India too brought into force the ‘Right to Information Act (RTI Act, 2005).
RTI Act, 2005 has been embedded as a part of fundamental rights under Article 19(1) of the Constitution. Indeed, as early as in 1976, the Supreme Court said in the case of Raj Narain vs State of UP that ‘people cannot speak or express themselves unless they know’. It further said that ‘People are the masters.
Therefore, the masters have a right to know how the governments, meant to serve them, are functioning. Every citizen pays tax in the form of sales tax, excise duty etc. The citizens, therefore, have a right to know how their money was being spent’
5. PUBLIC INTEREST LITIGATION
Public interest Litigation (PIL) is not defined in any statute or in any Act. However, in simple words it means litigation filed in a court of law, for the protection of “General Public Interest”. It is meant for enforcement of fundamental and other legal rights given to the people.
Through PIL the public injury can be redressed judicially. The injuries caused by the wrongful act or omission of the state or public authority or from breach of public duty or due to a violation of some provision of the Constitution are covered in PIL. The members of the public, by filing a PIL, are entitled to and seek enforcement of such public duty and observance of the constitutional law or legal provisions. However, it is necessary that the ground of petition is not only one person but the issue affects public at large.
6. FIRST INFORMATION REPORT
First Information Report (FIR) is a written document prepared by the police based on the complaint filed by a person regarding the commission of a cognizable offence.
A cognizable offense is one in which the police may arrest a person without warrant. The Police is authorised to start investigation into a cognizable case on their own and do not require any orders from the court to do so. Most of the common crimes are cognizable offences.
7. WHAT TO DO WHEN DETAINED/ARRESTED
Arrest is depriving a person of his of her liberty, or otherwise expressed as “the act of apprehending a person for the alleged commission of an offence or by the action of an authority”. This means when you are arrested you are not free to leave the scene. Without being arrested, you can be detained for questioning for a short time if a police officer or other person believes you may be involved in a crime.
Whether you are arrested or detained, you do not have to answer any questions except to give your name and address and show some identification if requested.
8. INTERACTING MEDIA
Information revolution has given the mass media a role of First Estate. Its influence, positive as well as negative, is seen everywhere including inside the Parliament, in the judiciary, in Security forces, in policy making etc. Though there are various writers and journalists who are honest, truth-loving, unbiased and hold a balanced view, there is, unfortunately, a section in the media which is seemingly less responsible and insincere in their profession.
Such scribes distort the issues for various reasons viz., deadline pressures, limited print space, budgetary restraints, the difficulty of reducing a complex story into a concise report, etc. They are also susceptible to market forces and external pressure.
9. HUMAN RIGHT’S COMMISSION
Human rights are relevant to all of humanity in every sphere of life. It makes our lives satisfying and meaningful. The protection and promotion of human rights is guaranteed by the Constitution and by various international treaties and covenants agreed to and ratified by India.
The National Human Rights Commission and the State Human Rights Commissions, set up under the Protection of Human Rights Act, 1993, share a common purpose in ‘protecting the human rights’ and promoting them, so as to assure citizens that they live in a just and humane society and to restore the faith of victims in the Rule of Law. They do so by taking steps to see that such violations do not go unchecked and those responsible for human rights abuses are made to account for their actions or inaction. The human rights recognised in the Universal Declaration are reflected in the Indian Constitution. Some of them are covered in the chapter on Fundamental Rights.
10. CONSUMER LAW & RIGHTS
The Consumer Protection Act, 1986 is one of the benevolent social legislation intended to protect the large body of consumers from exploitation. This is regarded as panacea and “magna carta” in the field of consumer protection and aims at checking unfair trade practices and deficiency in goods and services.
It is an alternative and cheapest remedy available to the aggrieved consumers by way of civil suit. Under the Act, a consumer is not required to pay any fees. The provisions of this Act cover ‘Products’ as well as ‘Services’. The products are those which are manufactured or produced and sold to consumers.
The services are of the nature of transport, telephones, electricity, constructions, banking, insurance, medical treatment etc.
For copies, please write to publisher at above given address or e mail:
Universal Knowledge Trust
A 58/3 Shaheen Bagh Abul Fazl Enclave Ã¢â‚¬â€œ II
Jamia Nagar Ã¢â‚¬â€œ New Delh-110025
Pages 65 , Price 25/-