Dear Mr. Arun Jaitley, Please Help the Poor Kids

RMN Foundation Free School for Deserving Children in New Delhi, India. Photo: Rakesh Raman
RMN Foundation Free School for Deserving Children in New Delhi, India. Photo: Rakesh Raman

Dear Mr. Arun Jaitley, Please Help the Poor Kids

July 10, 2017

Dear Mr. Arun Jaitley
Minister of Finance & Corporate Affairs
Government of India

Before I proceed, please let me introduce myself as a government’s National award-winning journalist and writer. Besides working at senior editorial positions with India’s leading media companies, I had been writing an edit-page column for The Financial Express newspaper.

I have also worked for the United Nations (UN) through United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) as a digital media expert to provide technology-based marketing training to small and medium businesses (SMBs) across the country so they could increase their export revenues.

Now, for the past about seven years, I have been running my own global news services on different subjects, such as politics, business, finance, technology, education, and so on.

In 2015, I formed the RMN Foundation Trust to carry out various philanthropic activities in order to help the underprivileged sections of our society. The current focus of RMN Foundation is to empower poor and disadvantaged children by providing them the best possible education.

Among my other services for children, I have written and produced a book series under the banner “Knowledge Stories for Children.” This is an innovative storybook concept aimed at educating children in the high-tech area of information and communications technology (ICT) or computers through interesting stories.

Plus, I have been running a comprehensive edutainment site named “RMN Kids” for children, parents, and teachers.

In order to extend my services to poor children, I set up a free school in June 2015 to provide modern education free of charge to underprivileged children in the J.J. Colony of Sector 3 in Dwarka, New Delhi.

As I am working alone to run this school, I am spending my own money and a lot of my time on this work besides managing my news services. Since my own resources are fast depleting, I need help to expand the scope of my charity work. So, I approached your Office of the Commissioner of Income Tax (E) in June last year.

Our Application

This has reference to our applications seeking exemption under section 80G of the Income Tax Act and registration under 12A for our Trust named RMN Foundation.

As I want to expand the activities of RMN Foundation to help more people in need, and I do not have enough resources with me, I applied for the 80G exemption and 12A registration as stated above. Through a professional CA, I submitted on June 13 all the documents that were required as per your respective demand letters.

But one of your department’s front-office executives who was dealing with this case started raising totally frivolous demands and asked me (through my CA) to appear in front of him through repeated visits to his office.

For example, we have submitted the photographs of the children studying in RMN Foundation school. He is saying why RMN Foundation is not mentioned on the photographs. Many photographs and video of the school activities are available on the RMN Foundation website, which is a comprehensive digital resource for people across the world. He can easily access them on the website. But for some strange reason he wanted us to stand in front of him.

Strangely, your department executive also asked us to submit the photographs of both the Trustees again while we have already given our photographs in multiple formats. Our photographs are also printed on a beautifully created color brochure of RMN Foundation that we have already submitted in your office and these are also available on the RMN Foundation website. But why does he need our photographs again? And why is he trying to disturb us with this avoidable procedural rigmarole? We don’t know.

And instead of using our website, your executive is asking us to repeatedly appear in front of him with documents that have already been submitted to your office and details that are available on our website. The procedure at your end is so shady that your office does not even formally acknowledge the receipt of physical documents that we have submitted. Sad but true.

By the way, why can’t your people take the details from our website? And why do you expect me to waste my time on visiting various offices to satisfy the clerical demands? And why should I not spend my time instead on the school education work that I do for poor children? Why can’t you cut the red tape and adopt the modern, digitally driven procedures?

If your office people are not trained enough to work in the modern digital environment, what is the purpose of spending money worth billions of dollars on the Digital India project that the Prime Minister of India is spearheading? Why do we need such people in our offices who can’t keep pace with the fast-changing world? Why can’t we employ trained or at least trainable workforce that could take our country forward?

Here’s another example of the flawed systems. Our Trust is registered with the Delhi government. Then why can’t your office digitally access the Trust documents from another government office instead of asking us to appear in front of your people with the original paper documents? Then what is the purpose of the so-called Digital India if government officers are clueless about digital technology and still work in silos with traditional approach?

Let me tell you that I have spent more than 20 years as a technology professional and a senior technology journalist. I have been repeatedly writing in my articles that no digital project can succeed if your manual systems are not efficient enough. The result is in front of you, as you have installed computers as mere boxes and asking citizens like me to keep running on roads and stand in queues in front of your offices. Then where is Digital India?

Your executive also was asking us to again submit the profiles of both the Trustees in a specific format which is totally irrelevant, as we have already submitted our profiles, given our own as well as RMN Foundation’s PAN details, address proofs, contact details, etc. Our profile details are also available on our website. Why do you want it again? And why was it not mentioned in your original demand letters?

Your executive also was asking us to visit other offices to get a totally redundant clause inserted in the Trust deed – which was not demanded in your letters. Why are all these demands erupting suddenly at the level of these front-office executives?

Do all these sudden demands not amount to corruption because official inefficiency is the worst form of corruption as it tends to waste public money? As more documentation means more corruption, please bring your documentation to naught if you want to succeed in the digital world. We are not supposed to work with traditional mindsets in a digitally connected society.

Application Rejection

Finally, we received a shocking letter dated 25.11.2016 from your office to inform us that our applications have been rejected. The said letter gave us an impression that we are thieves.

But are we thieves? No. I want to tell you that the education work that I am trying to do under RMN Foundation is among the most genuine charity activities in the country. I am trying to create an alternative method of modern education because our current school education system is totally obsolete which cannot produce employable workforce.

I have written multiple reports on education system reforms and submitted them to our education / HRD Ministry and these are also available on the Web. Plus, I am trying to practice what I preach in my free school for poor children.

Then why does your department want to impede my genuine work by creating avoidable bureaucratic hurdles? Why can’t you change your archaic procedures to accommodate and encourage people like me who want to work for others?

My Request

As I do not have time and money to waste on visiting the government offices and have already submitted the required documents in your office, please do the needful and provide us the 80G exemption and 12A registration as stated in our applications.

Plus, I request you to start building an environment of trust with the common citizens. All of us are equal parts of the transforming socio-economic culture in India. Please do not treat us as slaves like Britishers did with Indians in the colonial era.

In my case, for instance, I have published credentials to show my dedication, competence, and selfless work that I am doing to transform India towards a prosperous society. If you are treating me like a thief, you can imagine what is happening to other commoners in India who expect good governance and smooth citizen services from the government.

Instead of helping me in my efforts to do something good for others, you are trying to put impediments – perhaps inadvertently – in my path to scuttle my efforts with your redundant office procedures.

All is going topsy-turvy because we are not ready to make positive change around us. Now, let us give some meaning to Prime Minister’s slogan: “मेरा देश बदल रहा है…आगे बढ़ रहा है”।

Should we?

With this story, I hope you will do the needful at your level and issue us the said exemption and registration without any procedural hassle and delay.

Moreover, please let me know how the government can help me create proper infrastructure so I could start a residential school for poor and orphaned children to provide them complete education free of charge.

And please note that your help is not coming to me. It will go to the poor children who need it immediately. So, I request for an early and positive response.

In order to avoid disturbance, I keep my phones switched off. So, I request you to interact with me on email, Linkedin, Facebook, or Twitter. These digital addresses are given under the link of my name which is given below.

Regards

Rakesh Raman

Founder, Chairman Trustee
RMN Foundation
463, DPS Apts., Plot No. 16
Sector 4, Dwarka, Phase I
New Delhi 110 078, INDIA

RMN News

Rakesh Raman