In one of his memorable speeches our former President Dr. Kalam exhorted Indians to identify and admire Indian heroes and not just go on criticizing everything and everyone. As Mysore celebrates World Consumer Day on March 15th, it is only fitting that we show our appreciation by identifying such a hero who has contributed significantly to the cause of consumer protection in the city.
Such an individual is Dr. S. A. Prasad of Mysore Grahakara Parishat. On this occasion many activities are conducted in the city both by NGOs and government authorities to spread greater awareness on consumer rights and responsibilities. Learning about the contribution of Dr. Prasad to consumer movement in Mysore will go a long way in spreading awareness in consumer protection.
Dr. Prasad, a PhD holder in Plasma Physics from University of California has been involved with MGP practically from its inception and has served as the President of MGP. He has been editing Grahaka Patrike, flagship monthly newspaper of MGP for over 10 years single handed.
The greatest contribution of MGP to Mysore is not assisting the thousands of hapless consumers or contributing to solve myriad civic problems of the city or the protesting against innumerable violations of building codes, or saving of Lingambudhi, Kukkerhalli, Cheluvamba, People’s Park etc, but the relentless drive to uphold the rule of law. This was mostly because of Dr. Prasad’s indomitable faith that democracy will fail if it is not based on the rule of law. Though he is not a lawyer, he has become familiar with most of the laws governing our Mysore City Corporation and Consumer Protection Law.
When the property tax implementation was not in conformity with the wrongly worded law adapted by Karnataka’s legislation, and MCC increased the taxes, he successfully argued and stopped such an illegal implementation. When two of the active members of MGP were perceived to have violated the spirit of law, even at the risk of losing their services he stood up for their removal from the executive body.
Rain or shine, Dr. Prasad is in MGP office every day of the week throughout the year to take calls and help the consumers with grievances. Those thousands of consumers who have been helped by the sound advice of Dr. Prasad on every conceivable problem may feel that this article has not done enough justice to their long unsung hero. Tendency on most of us is to help the rich and well connected first and also with great interest. In the case of Dr. Prasad, it is just the opposite. He gives equal importance to every consumer irrespective of their economic status. If anything he would take greater interest in helping those who are poor.
One example will illustrate this. An employee of Regional College of Education (REC) with no schooling approached MGP seeking help when his children’s qualifications for a course they had taken were not recognized. The case lasted for more than 15 years. The case went from district consumer court to state to national to Supreme Court. The consumer was winning at each stage but REC was not willing to pay the compensation. The broken hearted father used to cycle often from REC to Yadavagiri after school hours. Dr. Prasad must have spent hundreds of hours helping him throughout this long saga without losing hope.
Just about every press release, report, PIL by MGP are prepared by Dr. Prasad. But the public does not know these facts. He goes out of his way to give credit to other members of MGP who are associated sometimes even remotely. Many of us would like to take the credit and bask in the limelight even when we have not contributed. Dr. Prasad is a rare exception to this rule. He applies the same principle while dealing with city’s other NGOs. He readily shares information with them and is ready to give publicity to other NGOs.
He is a walking encyclopaedia on the development problems of Mysore. Either he himself has the information or is able to retrieve from the computer or he knows how to get them. As a result news paper reporters call him to get facts and figures about Mysore and also some government officials familiar with MGP.
He is also a good example of how some people helping social cause end up suffering themselves. MGP had been fighting against an illegal building in Yadavagiri for a long time. The owner of that building filed a defamation case against Dr. Prasad along with another former President of MGP. This case has lasted for many years. Dr. Prasad has to go to court several times to defend himself. Not once has he complained about this unnecessary suffering and is putting up with all the inconveniences with ever smiling face.
The best way we can show our appreciation to Dr. Prasad as a hero is to resolve to uphold the rule of law in every way possible and to take some interest in solving civic problems in our own ways. Joining and taking interest in any activist organization like MGP, ACICM, etc by following his example of selfless service to Mysore all these years will be even better.