Sinlung /
15 August 2013

In Mizoram, A PRISM Of Hope Against Corruption

By Prasanta Mazumdar 

Almost 7 decades ago, Mumbai's fishermen took up arms for Independence; now Mizo youth wage their battle — for freedom from corruption.

When some young Mizos formed ‘PRISM’ seeking freedom for all from corruption, many thought they were only wasting their time and energy.

Seven years down the line, the Peoples’ Right to Information and Development Implementing Society of Mizoram (Prism) today stands out amidst groups spearheading the fight against corruption. It has made people to believe that no one, how powerful he or she could be, can escape the long hand of law.

By using the Right to Information, Prism pinned down the corrupt, due to which 62 government employees lost their jobs, one was jailed and five placed under suspension.
Today, Prism has grown enough to be a nemesis of corrupt government officials and politicians.

“Prism started its humble journey in 2006 when some like-minded youth came together to discuss issues such as corruption in government establishments, failure of the system at all levels, deprivation of the poor and needy, etc,” said Prism president Vanlalruata.

Initially, he said, Prism was entirely dependent on the RTI  in their crusade against corruption. But soon, it hit upon the unique idea of “eiru thlan bawm”, which is a kind of secret public balloting to zero in on the corrupt.

Vanlalruata explained: “It’s very simple. Prism encourages people to write the names of individuals, who they believe are corrupt, with specific charges. Papers containing the names are then dropped inside ‘eiru bawm’ (corruption ballot box) installed in Aizawl.”

When the boxes are opened at a public meeting, charges against the individuals are scrutinised for veracity and processed for filing of FIR. Alongside, the RTI is used to extract more information about those named by people as corrupt.

“Corruption is a serious problem in Mizoram. Nothing impedes development like corruption. We believe the ‘eiru thlan bawm’ model would help curb the menace significantly,” said Vanlalruata.

Prism does everything possible to help people get justice and basic human rights. At the various seminars which it organises, people are made aware of their rights. As a result, today they are not afraid of raising their voice against injustice. “What inspires us most is to see people starting to believe that even the mighty and powers-that-be are not above law,” added Vanlalruata.

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