AAP & Down – The Arvind I knew

Chapter 1 (excerpt)

While I had met Arvind only a few times, I had heard many inspiring stories about him. For instance, during his avatar as an Indian Revenue Service (IRS) officer, he’d regularly expose fellow of officers who’d ask for bribes. While working with the Income Tax (IT) department, he was also operating as one of the founders of a grass-roots activism organisation called Parivartan. He’d visit the Sundar Nagari slums of Delhi, attend to the grievances of citizens, and resolve their concerns, whether this had to do with getting a ration card or common income tax and electricity complaints. Arvind used RTI to help people get their work done in government offices without paying bribes, and he organised public hearings to hold government officials accountable.

There are two stories involving Arvind and Parivartan that are particularly motivating. 

As all of us know, IT refunds can get held up for a variety of reasons, and the citizen gets severely inconvenienced. To resolve this, each time there was an impasse, a team of Parivartan volunteers would meet the concerned officer along with the assessee and ask for the date of refund. On the said date, they would reach the IT office with musical instruments. If the refund was refused, they’d sit on the floor of the office, sing songs, beat drums and clang cymbals, till the refunds were made.

Another story involved an individual who was asked for a bribe of Rs 25,000 by an IT officer to pass his refund order. Parivartan volunteers, along with select media entities, took a procession led by drums and cymbals, carrying a cheque of Rs 25,000 to pay the bribe. The officer, as expected, ran away from the back door.

I was bowled over by Arvind’s approach and audacity. I became his admirer. 
Article by deepak

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