IASbhai Daily Editorial Hunt | 23rd June 2020
“The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.” –Anonymous
EDITORIAL HUNT 89 :“Transparency during a crisis“
SOURCES: THE HINDU EDITORIAL/EDITORIALS FOR UPSC CSE MAINS 2020
Anjali Bhardwaj is associated with the National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information
Transparency during a crisis
Proper implementation of the Right to Information Act is more crucial now than ever before
SYLLABUS COVERED: GS 2:3:RTI : The Modern Rules Of Transparency During A Crisis
Proper implementation of the Right to Information Act is more crucial now than ever before . Substantiate -(GS 2/3)
This article will widen your understanding about RTI and its scope .
- Article starts with PM Cares Funds
- Glitches in obtaining information
- Does and Don’ts with respect to information commissions.
- Right to Information (RTI) applications seeking information pertaining to the PM CARES Fund have been stonewalled.
- The trust deed of the fund chaired by the Prime Minister is not available for public scrutiny.
ACCESS TO INFORMATION IS CRUCIAL
- UNRIVALLED SITUATIONS : This violation of peoples’ RTI is particularly concerning given the unprecedented crisis gripping the nation.
- WELFARE SCHEMES : Relief and welfare programmes funded through public money are the sole lifeline of millions who suddenly lost income-earning opportunities during the lockdown.
- CORROSIVE NARRATIVES : Ironically, public scrutiny of government actions is undesirable during the crisis and citizens must unquestioningly trust the state.
- UNDERMINING BASIC TENETS : This undermines the basic democratic tenet that citizens’ participation and oversight is necessary to ensure they are able to access their rights.
WHY RTI IS CRUCIAL ?
- ACCOUNTABILITY : The RTI Act, 2005, has empowered citizens to access information from public authorities and hold them accountable.
- RIGOROUS CHECKS : During the COVID-19 crisis, proper implementation of the law has assumed greater significance than ever before.
- PROPER IMPLEMENTATION : It is crucial that information related to implementation of relief measures announced by governments be widely disseminated.
- EFFECTIVE OUTREACH : For instance, to ensure food security for the needy, Central and State governments have put in place schemes to provide subsidised rations.
- PREVENTS CONTROVERSIES : Greater openness would prevent controversies of the kind exemplified by faulty testing kits and fake ventilators.
- REAL TIME INFORMATION : COVID-19-positive patients requiring treatment in intensive care units being shunted from one hospital to another.
- EASY DISSEMINATION : To ensure easy accessibility to those who need it the most, relevant information must be made available in local languages and widely disseminated.
- OBLIGATIONS : In fact, this is a statutory obligation of public authorities under Section 4 of the RTI Act.
ROLE OF TRANSPARENCY WATCHDOGS
- In the current scenario the role of information commissions is crucial.
- DELAY IN RESPONSE : While in the midst of a pandemic it is reasonable to expect delays in processing information requests.
- COMPLYING NORMS : public authorities must not be allowed to interpret the crisis as a justification for not complying with the RTI Act.
- NEED OF THE HOUR : While the Central Information Commission and some State commissions used audio and video conferencing to hear and dispose cases, most commissions did not make provision for hearing even urgent matters.
- CLOAKS OF SECRECY : It is behind the cloak of secrecy that the rights of individuals are most frequently abrogated, corruption thrives and public trust in institutions is eroded.
- CULTURE OF OPENNESS : It is critical to create a culture of openness to empower people to participate meaningfully in the decisions that have profound effects on their lives and livelihoods.
Without information, peoples’ ability to perform that role is eviscerated and corruption thrives.