Inspired by Gandhian Anna Hazare's anti-corruption movement and with the strong belief that youth can bring about a change in society by fighting graft, a group of like-minded educated youth of Mysore has launched a platform called Mysore Youth Forum (MYF). The Forum feels that youth are the potential agents of change and their resolve could turn Mysore into a “corruption-free city.”
MYF has joined hands with the Regional Transport Office (RTO) to work towards helping the youth of Mysore get learners' licence and driving licence without paying bribe. It has the support of Mysore Grahakara Parishat (MGP).
Most of the volunteers of MYF are alumni of Demonstration School. Nitin, who finished his graduation at the National Institute of Engineering-Karnataka at Suratkal, founded MYF with help of his friends and others.
MYF conducted an informal survey amongst youth in various educational institutions in the city to know what they feel about the system of issuing licence at the local RTO. About 50 per cent of the youth feel that it is “impossible” to get the licence without paying a bribe and that the licence could be procured only through agents or influential contacts. The remaining youth preferred to get the licence through the proper channel.
During the survey, 75 to 80 per cent of the youth said they had failed in their first attempt to get the licence which could be for a genuine reason or because they were yet to pay a bribe.
Though this is the perception amongst youth surveyed, the reality, according to RTO, is different. “The RTO authorities say there have been numerous changes brought in by the department in the recent years to make the process of issuing licence as transparent as possible. Introduction of biometrics has ensured that the applicant be physically present during the test for issuing the licence. The department, in association with National Informatics Centre (NIC), has made the above things a reality,” according to MYF.
The MYF volunteers had interaction with the Deputy Transport Commissioner C.P. Narayanaswamy and the assistant RTOs in the department and raised the issues pertaining to issue of licence. “The officers explained the steps taken to improve the system of issuing licence. They said changes have been brought for the benefit of the people coming to the office. They have agreed to support us in our resolve,” explains Gautham, coordinator, MYF, a resident of Mysore and a lecturer at the PES College of Engineering, Mandya.
Less paper work
Web portals Vahan (for registration of vehicles) and Sarathy (for driving licences) have reduced the paper work and helped the office staff to maintain data in a convenient manner. The introduction of a simulator test for issuing licence for light motor vehicles has eliminated the need for an inspector to evaluate the driving skills of the licence seeker.
“A simulator which has all required tests defined would record the violations done by the driver by awarding points and pass the applicant only if he secures 60 points out of 100. Introduction of smart cards for driving licence has digitised the process and individual's records could be accessed from any part of the country with the help of the smart card,” according to MYF.
The MYF said the department has taken steps to deliver licences through post to eliminate the need for an individual to visit the RTO again. The department has introduced a transport adalat to hear citizens' grievances. Unfortunately, there has been a very low turnout to the adalat and the officers have appealed to the citizens to make use of it. In spite of the above developments, a common scene at RTO is long queues of citizens to either get documents verified or to pay fees. “Senior RTO officials claimed that they face shortage of staff,” according to MYF.
“Changes do not happen until we desire it. Though the RTO officials have been in a constant struggle to keep things transparent, it's wrong on the part of individuals to make accusations unless one experiences illegalities. Getting a licence is a very simple procedure and the staff at the reception of RTO office will guide the licence seekers or they can visit the RTO's informative website ( rto.kar.nic.in),” suggests the forum.
Mr. Gautham said many youth have come forward to join the forum and act as the agents of change. “We have decided to work with RTO in the next few months before taking up other issues concerning the people of Mysore. Our activities will be expanded once we have sufficient number of volunteers to work in the process,” he said.
MYF has appealed to the youth to go through the legal manner for getting their driving licence. In case they face genuine issues or trouble (such as undue delay in getting licence, loss of papers, subtle hint to use a middleman, asking for more documents which may not be needed, failing the test repeatedly etc) they can contact the coordinators of MYF.
Call MYF coordinators Goutham on 95914 08227 or Pavan on 97393 16329 or visit www.mysoreyouthforum.com. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Mysore Youth Forum wants to turn Mysore into a ‘corruption-free city'