Monday, May 11, 2009

Right To Information

India has recently enacted the Right to Information Act, which gives citizens the rights to get information from government agencies on any manner of issues as long as they do not compromise National Security. Here is an instance of RTI being successful (Hattip Amit). However, I cannot stop and applaud yet. Did Tyagi really have documents to prove that he had purchased the cow at fair price from Dubey? What incentive do the cops have to resolve such cases justly rather than just to pacify the person who filed the RTI application and make him/her withdraw so that the department is not embarrassed. If you read the story, you will notice that in both cases the police asked the citizens to either not pursue the case any further or write a letter saying the issue had been resolved. This seems like polite blackmailing to me. Sure it has kept these two police departments on their toes and has spurred them to act. But, it is their job right!! After all, we have other legislative mechanisms towards accountability in government departments, and none of them has been successful, why would we expect the RTI to be any more a success 10 years from now than any of the others written in the constitution. How soon before entrepreneurial elements discover rent seeking opportunities within the RTI?

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