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Fighters for a corruption-free India

April 25, 2007
Reportage: Shobha Warrier in Chennai
Photographs: Sreeram Selvaraj

I want to make a small difference by helping India be a corruption-free nation," says Preethi, a 24-year-old engineer from Salem, Tamil Nadu, who works also as a volunteer at the non-governmental organisation 5th Pillar.

"I had to struggle hard, run from pillar to post to make corrections in my birth certificate, get a ration card and then my passport. That is the reason why I joined, " she adds.

There are many youngsters like Preethi who work as volunteers at the small office of 5th Pillar, which was started on August 31, 1997 in Trichy with the goal of creating a corruption-free India by M B Nirmal, the founder of Exnora International, a non-governmental organisation.

"We kicked the British out because they were plundering us. But what is happening now," asks Nirmal.

"As India was getting ready to celebrate the 50th year of Independence, we thought we would organise the unorganised majority and start an organisation to fight corruption. I came up with the name 5th Pillar as we already have four pillars (Legislature, Executive, Judiciary and the Press). I want the volunteers to unite and be the fifth pillar of this nation, like the walking stick of the Father of the Nation," Nirmal explains.

After 10 years, Nirmal decided to de-link 5th Pillar from Exnora International and on March 28 this year, he asked Vijay Anand to be the president of the organisation and carry it forward.

"From 1999, I have been involved with a few organisations focusing on social change in India," says Anand. "India can progress only if the government machinery functions better than what it is today. For that, we need to weed out the corruption that is manifested so badly in the government machinery.

"I was convinced that corruption had to be fought on a war footing in our nation and that is why I got involved with 5th Pillar," he adds.

Image: The 5th Pillar logo

Also see: A father fights for justice for his dead soldier son
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