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"Janne Ka Haq" ... I demand to know

Somewhere down the line, I myself did not realize that I loved reading mass communication research methods during the second semester. And its application was to be in the form of the dissertation study that we had to undertake at the beginning of the second year. It was an interesting application to be made after the study of theory. The topic selection and research proposal was to be made prior to the commencement of the study. I oscillated between several subjects, wanting to take up something that provided the apt link between politics and communication. Hence, I decided to do something related to the coverage of elections in the print medium. An obsolete topic ... madam told me. Then I thought I could take up a comparative study of magazines which were not a much explored medium. Again this fizzed out! It was only chance, that I read a story on RTI (Right to Information)and it struck me that I could take up RTI and the media's role in promoting it as my topic. Topic approved! Reason being it was contemporary, it generated interest and the communication component was evident. But unless you actually start out with your study, you don't know the rationale, the methodology which you will use to ascertain the results that finally come out of your research.

As always, I began as a confused researcher not knowing how to go about it and how to approach my topic. Gradually with the help of one of my seniors (thank God for him!!), i settled down with my methodology/ies and became quite focused in my study. My methodologies included survey research, in depth qualitative interviews and content description which madam thought would qualify my dissertation as an M.Phil study. But I was ready to take the plunge and sit and analyze piles of data that I would eventually collect. I enjoyed data collection but more so I enjoyed analyzing it. I felt as if RTI was my own law and I was getting to known more and more of it. In the course of collecting data, I realized that a researcher is after all a human with his/her own prejudices and hence even if you try hard you can not be objective enough. You have to respect the subjectivity that research involves and be true to your topic, to your methods and to your respondents. I can say I had the fortune of interacting with some some good people from the field during the course of my research. One was of course the senior who guided me at each step. The others being Mr. Rahul Mangaonkar ... RTI activist and journalist, Mr. Rohit Prajapati ... RTI activist and others. I consider myself lucky to have got responses from Mr. Shailesh Gandhi, from the National Information Commission and to have got in touch with organizations like MKSS (Mazdoor Kisaan Shakti Sangh, Rajasthan) and NCPRI (National Campaign for People's Right to Information whch have been at the base of the RTI movement ... as good as pioneering it in India. My study was only enriched from interaction with the best field in the field.

The learnings were many. I was the odd one out ... one among the very few who thought that dissertation was a meaningful exercise in a course on communication. It is a document I cherish the most ... because my labor, my energy was wholly involved in it. Its the product of my perseverance and dedicated efforts. It is me ... the end product is mine and I made it possible for a topic to be documented for the purpose of study. There is one thing that I clearly knew by that time ... that research was more challenging, more worthy of pursuit than anything else, involved more amount of ground work, more passion and meeting people who are real beings, who are a part of the society. If you are doing research, you can be sure of being a part of shaping the way society transforms and evolves and I was more than elated being a part of it ... An ode to all those who are striving to achieve the objective of better governance though the tool called RTI ...


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