Sometimes, the battle against corruption begins at our doorstep. Corruption is not confined to the government; abuse of authority is rampant even in civil society bodies such as cooperative housing societies.
Accountability, transparency and fair play is often missing in Lions and Rotary Clubs, cricket and badminton clubs, chambers of commerce, trade associations, NGOs, cooperative banks, schools and hospitals run by registered trusts and societies, etc etc. “We the People” have not properly understood democratic processes and ethics; there is much that we need to learn.
Cooperative Housing Societies, where we live, are our smallest basic unit of self-government. The Chairman, Secretary, Treasurer etc are our neighbours. One would naturally expect them to share our concerns as they share our building. And one would also expect that the general body – all our neighbours – will stand with us in demanding good governance and accountability, because they would directly benefit.
But these expectations are often not met. Our everyday experience is:
a) Those who are elected to the post of Chairman, Secretary etc. become dishonest, non-transparent and unaccountable. Entrusted with a tiny bit of power and authority, they start deriving personal benefits and playing politics. People who question their actions are isolated and socially harassed.
b) The majority refuses to speak out in public, even while privately acknowledging that the managing committee is acting wrongly. Unwilling to “get involved”, people watch the tamasha while an outspoken member is stonewalled, sidelined and victimized.
Because of this, aggrieved flat-owners lose hope. Many of them feel that they have reached a dead-end and they lay down their arms in defeat.
At our last meeting of the RTI Activists Union on 18th May, we discussed this problem. The solution proposed was: the Union should support cooperative society members fighting for justice and transparency. Those who have successfully battled their managing committees should mentor such individuals on a voluntary basis. J B Patel [email protected] is leading this initiative.
Jeby, as he is known, has created a detailed four-step strategy document for taking on corrupt and non-transparent managing committees. This document has useful formats, legal information and practical tips, and a step-by-step guide for citizens. It is based on three laws:
- Maharashtra Cooperatives Act 1960
- Right to Information Act 2005
- Consumer Protection Act 1986
Download Jeby’s guide for citizens: http://tinyurl.com/4-pt-attack-on-corrupt-mg-cmte
This author of this article is Mr. Krishnaraj Rao and can be contacted by email at [email protected]