Tuesday, March 14, 2017

RTI reinforces faith in democracy, prevents extremism: social activist

Deccan Herald: Bengaluru: Tuesday, March 14, 2017.
Right to Information Act is not only a tool for transparency, but it also enables a channel of communication between the government and the people, preventing the latter from taking to extremism to get justice, social activist and India’s first information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah said on Monday.
Delivering a lecture on ‘RTI and National Security: Contradiction or Confluence,’ Habibullah said Right to Information allows people to unearth facts that citizens can use to further improve governance. The P K Dey annual memorial lecture was organised by the School for Democracy, Rajasthan.
“RTI should not be used solely to put government on the defensive. It is an effective tool to work with the government in a constructive way,” he said.
Social activist Aruna Roy, who commented on the lecture, took the example of Maoist menace in Chhattisgarh to emphasise that suppression of people’s participation drains their confidence in democratic institutions and democracy itself. “Ask a question about corruption or abuse of power and you are immediately branded as a terrorist,” she said.
The activist said police once called her a Moaist for staying in a village since they didn’t see any point in an educated person working with villagers. “We need to change this mindset. Today, the government is more opaque than ever. People should act to hold the authorities accountable,” she added.