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Right to Information – Master key to good governance

INDIA EMPOWERED TO ME IS -CVC says – When you no longer have to bribe govt officials to get your due/ Study each major government department and come up with guidelines for effective use of RTI.

Posted by rtiact2005 on July 6, 2006

INDIA EMPOWERED TO ME IS -CVC says – When you no longer have to bribe govt officials to get your due/ Study each major government department and come up with guidelines for effective use of RTI.

P SHANKAR : CENTRAL VIGILANCE COMMISSIONER

 Posted online: Friday, December 16, 2005 at 0000 hours IST

http://www.financialexpress.com/fe_full_story.php?content_id=111627

India Corruption Study 2005, commissioned by Transparency International India, has brought out the alarming fact that the common citizens of the country are being forced to pay a sum of Rs 20,168 crore annually to avail of one or more of 11 selected public services in a year. And to think that we tend to dismiss this as petty corruption!

In the compilation of worldwide Corruption Perception Index by the Transparency International, India again ranks in the low 80s. Every citizen of the country should feel ashamed of this as it hurts his sense of national pride and dignity as a citizen of a great country.

An empowered India to me, and to each one of us, is where the common citizen is able to get what he is entitled to without having to pay any bribe and without having to supplicate before an indifferent and corrupt bureaucracy. Without achieving this through tangible and perceptible improvement in the quality of governance, all talk of an India occupying a high position in the comity of nations, as a strong economic power cannot but ring empty and hollow.

I do believe the situation is not beyond redemption or hope. The Central Vigilance Commission over the years has identified and suggested a number of simple measures which could achieve dramatic improvement in the current state of affairs. I am listing a few:

• The guidelines set out by the Supreme Court in the Vineet Narain judgement need to be extended and made applicable to the states.

• Delay is the root cause of corruption. The electronic file tracking system and regular publication of information on the processing of cases will make the public servants really responsible and accountable.

• Exercise of discretionary powers by public servants should be minimised, if not eliminated.

• Elimination of personal contact of the common citizens with bureaucracy has been found to be a simple and effective measure to improve the quality of service and eliminate harassment. e-Governance is now recognised and accepted by governments at all levels.

• Citizen’s charters should be redrafted with sharper focus on deliverables.

• Redressal of grievance is an area crying for improvement. There is need for appointment of empowered ombudsmen in all departments and organisations with significant public contact.

• NGOs should study each major government department and come up with guidelines for effective use of RTI.

• Public procurement is perhaps the single largest source of corruption and leakage of public revenues. Procedures for purchases by Government departments and public sector enterprises should be made more transparent and time-bound. Apart from publication of all tenders on the website along with downloading of tender forms, the tender results should also be made public within a reasonable period say, four weeks of the concluding day.

• Ministerial/departmental interference in the day-to-day functioning of the public sector enterprises needs to be checked.

• Action against public servants need to be severe and swift. Delays in taking action in vigilance matters should attract stringent penalties.

• NGOs should serve as bridges between citizens and public service institutions, replacing intermediaries.

I have confined myself to corruption in the officialdom and deliberately omitted to talk about political corruption or corruption in the judiciary. It is true that empowerment cannot come about without corresponding improvements in these areas. But I believe the electoral reforms proposed by the Central Election Commission will sooner or later bring about the required improvements.

(Our special India Empowered stories and columns are available at http://www.indiaempowered.com)

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One Response to “INDIA EMPOWERED TO ME IS -CVC says – When you no longer have to bribe govt officials to get your due/ Study each major government department and come up with guidelines for effective use of RTI.”

  1. ramachandran said

    RTI and/ or e-governance may not be enough. Babus could delay approvals on the pretext of government processes which are deliberately kept lengthy. Re-engineering of critical processes are necessary so that delays are eliminated. Since government departments deal with paper, they need to introduce simple technology in the form of bar code for each application form so that a tracking system is developed instananeously and the status of each application is known, preferably on the website of each department.

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