“The need for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens to secure access to information under the control of public authorities, in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority, the constitution of a Central Information Commission and State Information Commissions and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto makes the RTI Act indispensable. More so, since democracy requires an informed citizenry and transparency of information which are vital to its functioning and also to contain corruption and to hold Governments and their instrumentalities accountable to the governed.”
Source: RTI Act (as published in the Gazette of India)
Ever since humanity invaded the terra firma, the outcry for freedom and liberation has been loud and clear. With the relentless efforts of our luminaries, we are no longer a nascent nation recovering from debacles of the colonial past. We are now emerging as potential world leaders. And yet, isn’t it just too ironic that we, the proud citizens of this nation, seized in the search of a utopian political system, have lost the very basic insight into what freedom really is?
Freedom takes its real shape when it leaves the tables of parliamentarians, and goes on to become a part of a layman’s common parlance. Every colloquium of ours is a potential revolution, and the RTI Act is nothing but a manifestation of revolutionization of our system: a system that now lets no question of ours go unanswered, no demand to seek information unheard.
Welcome the Right to Information Act, the harbinger of a NEW RISING. Be it a flagrant miscarriage of justice, or embezzlement of funds, we no longer have to deal with the eyewash that the top brass puts forth, no longer are we to be the innocent citizens who get bumped off for trying to fight single handedly against the entire political circuit. This Act is our new means to realization of liberation in the real sense, our new weapon.
As stated in the RTI Act: “Every public authority shall maintain all its records duly catalogued and indexed in a manner and the form which facilitates the right to information under this Act .” This basic clause enables the information seekers to get an easy, instant access to judgments passed by information commissions across the country, helping them build their cases better against any government agency, under the RTI Act.
In today's world knowledge is power, and RTI will help in restoring power to people. Rajiv Gandhi once said,“Out of every 1 Re only 7 paise reaches to actual user for development.” With reference to this, RTI Act states: “It is mandatory for every public authority to record the budget allocated to each of its agency, indicating the particulars of all plans, proposed expenditures and reports on disbursements made; the manner of execution of subsidy programmes, including the amounts allocated and the details of beneficiaries of such programmes. ” With the government undertaking such a large number of poverty alleviation programmes, taking measures such as distribution of subsidized food, bank loans being given to those falling below the poverty line, it is of utmost importance that the NGOs or even common man for that matter, make use of the RTI to ensure that the amount allotted for these programmes does percolate down to the needy.
As we come to think of where this Act is really leading us, one important question pops up. Is the RTI Act, also exercising control on other factors that cause poverty? In other words, can a routine use of the RTI eliminate all the ground level causes of poverty, corruption being the major one. Needless to say that even a high growth rate, a few pockets of affluence and glittering cities have failed to hide the poverty in India. A yet another disheartening detail, the pathetically low ranking(85th, as the figures say) of India in the Transparency International’s survey for least corrupt countries in the world, makes it quite evident that there definitely exists a strong correlation between corruption and poverty , and makes one fact absolutely clear: Corruption hurts the poor and diverts public services from those who need them most. It is thus no surprise that despite a fifteen fold increase in the Government budget being spent on poverty alleviation, the leaky inefficient mechanisms have caused diversion of resources that has restricted the improvement in the real scenario to being very marginal, piecemeal and disappointing.
But with the advent of the RTI Act, the statistics take a radical volte-face. As quoted by M.M Ansari, Central Information Commissioner, “The information regime, brought in by the enactment of the Right To Information Act, has helped reduce corruption in the country significantly.” Speaking to The Hindu, he quoted figures from Transparency International which stated that corruption in the country had declined between 15 per cent and 20 per cent, over the last two years (the same period that the RTI Act has been in force).
Clearly implying that the RTI Act has achieved its purpose of increasing responsiveness and accountability of government agencies. Programs such as the National Rural Employment Guarantee Program and Sarva Shiksha Abhiyan had fared better as people were seeking more information with regard to its ground-level implementation.
All of us have wondered at some point of time if these Acts really play a role in justice being meted out to common man, or do they take birth in the parliament only to end up getting lost in the governmental formalities and never reach out to the common man? Well, it is for us to understand that it is OUR ACT. The moment we take control, there will be no looking back. If you ever wondered why your village municipality does so little and keeps complaining about funds, why there are never any teachers in the “so-called” governmental schools, why are the roads in your colony in such a pathetic condition, or felt that you wanted know how your MP used the MPLAD funds, then it’s about time you stand up for yourself. Act. USE THE RTI ACT AND TAKE CONTROL OVER THE DECISIONS THAT REALLY AFFECT YOU. Be the inspector, question, even introspect, ideate, suggest and get yourself justice, for that’s what each one of us truly deserves. Finally ,to punch the message home, lets just say, in the words of Albert Camus: “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free, that your very existence is an act of rebellion.”