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Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Indian-Americans welcome launch of electronic postal order

WASHINGTON: Indians living abroad, especially those in the US have welcomed the launch of the electronic postal order, which they say would go a long way for them seeking information from the Indian Government and other state governments under the Right to Information Act.
A number of Indians living in the US said that RTI has now become accessible to the Indian citizens living abroad after the Postal Department last week launched Indian postal order in electronic format (eIPO).
"With eIPO, I now have the ability to discern conflicting information about governance in India in the news by going directly to the source - the government," Vishal Kudchadkar, a volunteer with the non-profit Association for India's Development (AID) at Los Angeles, told PTI.
"In the last seven years, we have tried all possible workarounds to exercise our right to know. Now, our participation in nation building has become tad easier!," he said.
For the past several years, the volunteers of AID have been running from pillar to post both at the Indian missions in the United States and with government agencies back home seeking information under RTI.
However, the inability to pay in Indian currency from overseas was coming a major hindrance in their move.
"It has been seven long years since we started this campaign for our right to information. It has been a difficult journey and during this time we have had to depend on friends in India to file RTIs on our behalf," said Arun Gopalan, a volunteer with Association for India's Development, Greater Washington Metro area chapter.
"Their non-availability meant a missed opportunity. That will no longer be the case with this new eIPO. It would be ideal if the list of email id of PIOs is also available on this portal and the information exchange is completely digitised, but we will take this for now," Gopalan said.
Balaji Janakiraman Iyer said the launch of eIPO would make the Right to Information more accessible to all Indian citizens living abroad.
"Couple of years ago, I had lamented that the implementation of the RTI Act made an NRI like me feel like a second class citizen because of something as trivial as the lack of a facility to make the payment for the RTI filing fee," he said.
"Thanks to the tireless efforts of RTI activists in India and abroad as well as the willing support of government officials, with the launch of the eIPO, we have finally enabled Indian citizens abroad to exercise their right to information on an equal footing to that of resident Indians.
"While the convenience factor is obvious, the more far reaching impact would be the sense of empowerment NRIs are going to feel in nation building," Iyer told PTI. 
Source : The Economic Times, 25 March, 2013

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