January 19, 2016
Right to Information: a Strong Weapon against Corruption
Casting your vote to secure a better future for the nation is just the stepping stone towards your political consciousness. Every year the Government allocates a large amount of money for various projects in an endeavor to make the society even better for living. Though the question here is how would average people of India know whether the money is being used for the right cause?
For instance, the Government spends millions every year to eradicate poverty. However, to our surprise, 42 percent of the population lives on less than $1 in India according to a report published by the World Bank. Despite the introduction of various programmes, why haven’t the poverty levels come down? Thus, the lawmakers needed an Act that would bring transparency to the working process of the Government. This led to the introduction of Right to Information Act (RTI) in 2005.
Unfortunately, it took nearly 15 years for RTI to become a law. Late V. P. Singh, who was the Prime Minister of India for a short period of time, once emphasized on introducing a law that would provide the citizens the right to seek information. However, only 33 percent of the urban populations are aware of the benefits of RTI.
How does RTI work?
Under the RTI, a citizen has the right to request any kind of information from a public authority. The answer must be provided within a period of 30 days. Since the enactment of the law in 2005, the number of RTI applications has soared drastically. According to a report by the Hindustan Times, it has been estimated that millions of applications were received in a month in 2013 by central government offices.
The law has played a key role in detecting various scams that involved crores of rupees. Whether it was the Adarsh Housing Society Scam in Mumbai or the corruption cases related to Commonwealth games in Delhi, or the public distribution system in Assam, RTI played a crucial role in unearthing these scams that would have remained unnoticed otherwise. In addition to this, students who appear for competitive exams can now have access to their answer sheets and keys after the exams.
The Flip Side
Though drastic steps have been taken to bring transparency into the governance of our country, still people with authority are trying to make the law toothless. This is because they are directly answerable for any discrepancy, which makes them quite uncomfortable. Much effort has been put in to make amendments in the law. In fact, the position of Chief Information Commissioner has remained vacant since August 2014. Such issues will have an impact on the rights of the citizens to get information on various issues.
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