Lucknow: The question looked simple at the outset. However to answer Aishwarya Parashar, the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), the Ministry of Home Affairs and the National Archives of India had to study millions of official documents.
Finally they answered that there were no “specific documents” on the information sought by the 10-year-old girl from Lucknow.
“That was really surprising because I never thought it was such a difficult question since even our history books taught us that Mahatma Gandhi was the Father of the Nation,” Parashar, a fourth grader in Lucknow’s City Montessori School, said.
The first reference to such a title was from Subhash Chandra Bose, leader of the Indian National Army who referred to Gandhi as the Father of the nation in a radio address from Singapore in 1944.
The first Prime Minister Jawaharlal Nehru repeated it when he addressed the nation soon after Gandhi’s assassination in 1948.
“Friends and comrades, the light has gone out of our lives, and there is darkness everywhere, and I do not quite know what to tell you or how to say it. Our beloved leader, Bapu as we called him, the Father of the Nation, is no more.”
Parashar, perhaps the country’s youngest Right to Information (RTI) activist, has so far asked three questions to PMO.
She first queried about the person who ordered for printing Mahatma Gandhi’s image on currency notes. The PMO answered saying the Reserve Bank of India took the decision at a meeting in 1993.
As late as April 24 she wanted to know from the PMO who declared India’s three national holidays: Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary on October 2, Republic Day on January 26 and Independence Day on August 15.
This time the PMO surprised her on May 17 saying such orders were never issued.
Parashar says when questions come to her mind she would not rest until she finds the answers from the right source.
The daughter of a college lecturer and an activist seeks answers through the Right to Information (RTI) Act.
Parashar’s inquisitiveness and willingness has helped a public library to come up on the site of a garbage dumb in Lucknow.
Aishwarya now urges those wanting some written information from her to send her an SMS giving their e-mail ID and even forward e-mail and communicates about her work on her own.
Aishwarya wants to become a doctor. Asked why, she quips: “Whenever I go to a hospital, I see that the poor patients have to first shell out money in order to get treated. I will, on becoming a doctor, go to the slums at least once every week and provide free treatment to such poor people.”
- The Hindu