Forty-two years ago, textile trader Subhash Chandra Agarwal, then an engineering student, was miffed with a Delhi Transport Corporation (DTC) bus conductor who refused to give him a ticket for a 20 paise journey.
So, he shot off a letter to the editor of the Hindi daily Dainik Hindustan complaining about the misconduct.
“When the letter was published, a DTC van arrived at the college campus. I hid somewhere in the college, fearing the worst. But friends later pulled me out and said the DTC conductor had come to apologise for his misconduct. That’s when I realised the power of taking the initiative and writing.”
That kicked off a habit of writing letters to newspapers—3,699 at last count—and eventually got him into the Guiness Book of Records. When India’s landmark Right to Information (RTI) Act, was passed, Agarwal graduated into filing petitions for records to be made public.
On Tuesday, 12 January 2010, Agarwal’s achieved his biggest victory, when the Delhi High Court ruled that the office of chief justice of the Supreme Court of India came under the purview of RTI, a contention that had been controversially contested by incumbent, K.G. Balakrishnan.
Photograph: courtesy The Hindu