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Monday, December 10, 2007

Arvind Kejriwal

We all know that Income Tax department in India exists for the main purpose of enriching the income tax dept employees. It is incidental that Income Tax also gets collected not because of these employees but despite them.

Now imagine this …

• You are from an average middle class Indian family.
• You work hard and graduate as a mechanical engineer from an IIT
• Then you join civil services and become a Joint Commissioner of Income Tax in New Delhi which is a dream posting for countless officers in the IT department because of its money earning potential (no need to specially mention that the income tax dept is among the most corrupt branches of govt. Everyone knows it).

Now for most people to be in the above situation is a dream come true. And most people in that situation would consider themselves to have made it. And most people in that situation would earn countless millions by being shamelessly (and openly) corrupt.

But Arvind Kejriwal is not one of those people.

After graduating as a mechanical engineer from IIT Kharagpur in 1989, he joined the civil services in the Indian Revenue Service (1992) and became a Joint Commissioner in the Department of Income Tax. And it is not like one has to look hard to see all the corruption in that department. He saw the corruption and he soon realized that much of the corruption prevalent in government is owing to the lack of transparency in the process. Even while in his official position, he started crusading against the corrupt practices.

He founded an organization called Parivartan in January 2000 to fight corruption. The first activity was to provide relief to the taxpayers from extortionist corruption in Income Tax Department. After several years on Extra-Ordinary Leave from the Government, he resigned his official post and now devotes full time to his work as the founder-head of Parivartan - a Delhi based citizens’ movement trying to ensure a just, transparent and accountable governance...

Arvind was instrumental in bringing in a number of changes to increase transparency in the Income Tax office. Together with Aruna Roy and others, he campaigned for the Right to Information Act, which was passed in 2005.

As always true Indian Heroes are first recognized by institutions abroad , Arvind Kejriwal was awarded Ramon Magsaysay Emergent Leadership award in 2006 for activating India's Right to Information movement at grassroots and social activities to empower the poorest citizens to fight corruption by holding the government answerable to the people.

You can learn more about Parivartan here.

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