Joe Athialy is an experienced activist in the field of accountability of financial institutions. He has 30 years of experience in grassroots’ work, campaigns, and more. He worked at the Narmada Bachao Andolon, a mammoth organization working on the issues of large hydro projects; National Alliance of People’s Movements, a platform of mass organizations in India; Amnesty International and Bank Information Centre in various senior roles. Most notably now, he is heading the Centre for Financial Accountability, a Delhi-based research and campaign organization on matters relating to the national and international economic and financial institutions.
The conference with Mr. Joe was a very fruitful one, which did not seem boring nor one-sided. It was a conversational discussion in which we asked sir our personal questions regarding the importance of accountability from those in power. He gave us specific examples like Kashmir’s political leaders being under house arrest. The documentation reveals that the government lied about this in court shows us lost their accountability. Also, the network in Kashmir was removed for a long time, later to be back only as 2G, which was highly detrimental to the children who need to attend online school.
We also learned about ways to hold the government accountable. These are things that even a high school student can do to raise awareness. Care about others who may be oppressed or affected by political actions and don’t look away simply because it does not affect you; Active participation in political processes; Reading and questioning issues – Taking things for how it is mentioned without asking questions can be fatal in the age of fake news; Collective effort – Working with other humans and other people such as NGO’s or organizations – people must collectively work to ask questions to the authority in order to hold them accountable.
Lastly, he catered to the questions asked by us students, in which the question which stood out the most was “Isn’t democracy just a tyranny of the majority.” To which sir gave an answer which was not wholly for or against this claim since he told us that the answer is perspectival and depends on the situation and myriads of factors like accountability and transparency.
Written by Abhijay Jain, DP1