Prakash Kardaley’s: A transparency crusader passes away
By Sucheta Dalal
Prakash Kardaley, until recently a Pune based Senior Editor of the Indian Express passed away on Sunday, 15 July 2007 of a massive heart attack. With his death, the Right to Information (RTI) movement has lost one of its biggest crusaders – one who remained low profile while strongly guiding the movement in the right direction.
Mr.Kardaley, was popularly known as Masterji among RTI activists for several reasons – his deep knowledge of RTI Act and its application; was firm and authoritative in his handling of the RTI yahoo group called ‘Humjanenge’ that he founded and which has, over the years, turned into the most active discussion and support group for activists around the country. Prakash ensured with polite firmness that the group never strayed from the core issue of sharing knowledge and experience on RTI. Right until afternoon on the very day he suddenly passed away, he had been working and speaking to RTI activists on a variety of issues. He was extremely keen on getting RTI activists to meet in Bangalore to lend support to Mrs. J.N. Jayashree (http://jayashree.wikidot.com/news), the wife of the IAS whistleblower who has hit international headlines with her bold action to protect her husband.
In a post just a day before his demise he suggested the preparation of single memorandum bearing names of as many activists from across the country as possible to be sent to the Chief Minister and Governor of Karnataka and all other national and state authorities in support of Mrs.Jayashree. “The idea is to let the Powers-that-be know that we are all watching and that we cannot let the persecuted suffer in isolation”, he wrote. (http://fightcorruption.wikidot.com/womcompl). A senior journalist with the Indian Express group for decades, Mr.Kardaley got inspired after a meeting with the social crusader Anna Hazare into using Right to Information for the larger public good. Once involved in the subject, he helped conduct dozens of workshops and helped ordinary people use the act effectively to make the system more accountable.
Mr.Kardaley was a member of the Working Committee of National Council for People’s Information; was a faculty member at YASHDA- the institute that trains government officers. He was also Managing Editor of Intelligent Pune a city-based tabloid for the thinking person. “NGOs should become confrontationist for it is not possible for individuals to take the act to its logical end. There should be an organisational and organised use of the act," he said in a recent interview. Mr.Kardaley’s sudden demise has shocked the RTI community and condolences are pouring in at the group site http://in.groups.yahoo.com/group/HumJanenge/
On a personal note, Prakash Kardaley was the first person on turned to for dispassionate information on RTI issues.He recently wrote a piece for MoneyLIFE Magazine (http://www.moneylife.in/), on the National Stock Exchange’s opposition to the applicability of RTI to stock exchanges, which will now be published posthumously. I also began writing a weekly column for Intelligent Pune in the past two weeks at his request.Prakash Kardaley’s demise is a tragic blow to the RTI movement – his guiding presence will be badly missed.