Right2Information

Right to Information – Master key to good governance

RTI Action Alert – (Why, what and how?)

Posted by rtiact2005 on August 1, 2006

On 7/31/06, Arun Gopalan <garun1279@gmail.com > wrote:

RTI ACTION ALERT

 

Aug 1, 2006

 

Why should I?:

 

Less than a year ago the entire country was mourning the death of Manjunath and with that the dreams of over a billion people to have a corrupt free country. 

The Right to Information act came as a great relief to the same set of people and established a channel through which people involved in making decisions that changes people’s lives can be held accountable for the same! The latest amendment would render the act toothless. It would prevent people from knowing the parties responsible for decisions of far reaching consequences to their lives. It would let corrupt officials go scot free because nobody would know “who did it”.

More importantly it raises the possibility of more Dubeys, Manjunaths(and who knows EVEN ONE OF US) being brutally murdered in the future . So let us act now!

Immediate Action Required:

 

  • A Flood of Phone calls to the Prime Minister, Sonia Gandhi, Suresh Pachouri(Minister of Personnel) and Priya Ranjan Das(Minister of Information and Broadcasting)

Phone Numbers given at the end.

 

Talking Points:

 

  • Introduce yourself as a concerned Indian citizen calling from the US (or wherever)
  • I heard about the recent amendment approved to exempt file notings from the ambit of RTI Act. This is a very retrogressive step and will keep India in the dark ages.
  • File notings are the heart and soul of the decision-making process. Hiding that from public view will only increase arbitrariness in Government.
  • It promotes corruption and belies India’s commitment towards a transparent and accountable Government.
  • It protects corrupt bureaucrats.
  • India has a very bad name internationally as a corrupt country. As Indians living abroad, we were overjoyed when we learnt about the RTI Act. The proposed amendment lends weight to those who continue to decry India as an impossible place to live or do business in.
  • It will discourage investors, particularly the smaller entrepreneurs who create more jobs for less investment and are unwilling to pay bribes or deal with arrogant Government officials.
  • Section 8 of the Act already provides overarching exemption possibilities. It is dishonourable for the Prime Minister to go back on his word barely a year after the enactment of the most important people-friendly legislation. All the good will earned by the UPA Government will be squandered by this amendment.
  • As an informed citizen of the country, I am very disappointed with the government move, despite widespread criticism from different civil-society groups (tell them how so many people even in the US are actively lodging their protests in order to see that corruption is once and for all rooted out of India)

  

Contact Information

 

From India: (Do not have to use 011 91 infront of the numbers below)

 

Prime Minister

  • Prime Minister’s Office , Delhi : (011) 91-11-23012312, (011) 91-11-23013149
  • Prime Minister’s Home , Delhi : (011) 91-11-23018939, (011) 91-11-23018668
  • Prime Minister’s Office, Parliament : (011) 91-11-23017660, (011) 91-11-23019817

Sonia Gandhi, Leader of the UPA Coalition

  • Mrs. Sonia Gandhi, (office): (011) 91-11-23014481, (011) 91-11-23012656

Minister of Personnel

  • Suresh Pachouri, Office :  (011) 91-11-23092475, (011) 91-11-23093786
  • Suresh Pachouri, Parliament: (011) 91-11-23017651, (011) 91-11-23034642

Minister of Information and Broadcasting

  • Priya Ranjan Das Munshi, Office: (011) 91-11-23384340, (011) 91-11-23384782
  • Priya Ranjan Das Munshi, Parliament: (011) 91-11-23034944, (011) 91-11-23019688

-Arun

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9 Responses to “RTI Action Alert – (Why, what and how?)”

  1. rtiact2005 said

    On 7/31/06, Arun Gopalan wrote:

    OK. My goodnight call is over. I called up PM’s home number 23018939. A person picked up the phone and spoke in Hindi. I told him I am calling from Washington D.C.,U.S, and asked to speak to the PM. He immediately connected me to one his personal secretaries Mohan. I told Mohan that I wanted to speak to the PM.He said he is out for a meeting and asked me what it is regarding. I told him it is regarding the new amendment to the RTI act and how Indians living in the U.S. were very concerned about it setting up a breeding ground for corruption. I also “stressed” the fact that the “image” of India abroad is getting tarnished and it is putting off investors.He said he would pass on the message

    He asked me to put it all in writing and send an email to the PM. I told him that I have sent several emails to the PM without any response and demanded to speak to him.He then asked me to fax and asked me to ask my friends also to do the same thing. I did not relent and so he said the PM would be back around 1 and asked me to call back at that time. But at the end of the conversation he sounded genuinely worried,so am sure this message would be passed.

    I also tried calling Suresh Kachouri(which I tried yesterday too),but the numbers keep ringing.Am not sure if any of the others faced the same issue.

    I would strongly advise all of you to call and keep up the pressure.

    -Arun

  2. rtiact2005 said

    On 7/31/06, Tulika Narayan wrote:

    Great job Arun.

  3. rtiact2005 said

    Pavitra Krishnamurthy

    Same thing with me as well. I have been calling for the past two days
    as well. Yesterday, I called Pachouri’s number. The guy who picked
    up at Pachouri’s office wouldnt say his name. Today I had an answer
    at the PM’s home (8668) number. I got to speak to Mohan, the PMs
    Secretary.
    Both of them mentioned that there have been many calls over the past
    few days, and that they are willing to consider our views. They both
    said that “me and all my friends” should send our concerns out in
    writing and they would bring it up to the PM, instead of repeatedly
    calling day in and day out.🙂
    Pavitra

  4. rtiact2005 said

    On 7/31/06, Somu Kumar wrote:
    Same here. Called and spoke to one of his secretaries for long – he
    sounded concerned too and promised that our concerns are reaching the
    PM and I need not have any suspicion on this when I asked how can I
    trust my letter/emails are read. He declined to give his name though.

    Arun, is there a fax action too? He insisted on me sending a fax and
    our fax action is a proven technology.

    Somu

  5. rtiact2005 said

    On 7/31/06, Vishal Kudchadkar wrote:
    got through to suresh parchouri’s secretary, Mr D. B. Singh and got
    into a discussion with him for a few minutes.

    he said along with the decision, the reasons for the decisions would
    also be disclosed. only thing that wont be disclosed is the names of
    the officials.
    he also said that in no other country is the intra, inter
    service/agency communication is disclosed. when i told him that in
    the US it is disclosed after the decision is taken he refused to
    accept it.

    he excused himself saying that he had a meeting to go to and asked me
    to call him in 15 minutes

    the number is got through to is 2303 4642.

    will send other details later.

    -vishal

  6. rtiact2005 said

    phew! just finsihed the call … with Dr D. B. Singh

    this is what he had to say
    1. File notings will not be disclosed however the decision and
    reasons for the decisions will be disclosed. (when i asked if all the
    reasons would be disclosed he was like that depends on how
    intelligently the questions are asked🙂 ) Kept repeating “what
    purpose will be served by knowing what an individual officer has
    written, when the decision is finally a collective one by the govt”

    2. The govt wishes to withhold the identity of the officers to
    protect them from trail by media. Given that officials are not
    allowed to talk to the media under conduct rules, they will be
    subjected to unfair trails. when asked if there cant be other methods
    of allowing officials to defend themselves, he was like then all the
    time wud go in officials defending themselves and no work would be
    done in the govt. also he said that it would open avenues for
    blackmailing by vested interests.

    3. Claimed that nowhere else in the world are file notings disclosed.
    even in the US he claims (reading from the act in front of him) that
    inter and intra agencies notings are not disclosed. claimed that US
    file notings are different from Indian ones and dont contain as
    detailed information as the indian ones Privacy laws in the US
    protect the officials and which is something india doesnt have.

    4. Claimed the govt always maintained (even during the initial
    discussions with NCPRI etc) that file notings were exempt and never
    had agreed or intended that file notings were to be included.
    Regarding CIC’s decision, he was like the CIC is just like any other
    organization which can interpret it the way it wants to. The only
    thing binding on the govt is the Supreme Court’s decision.

    5. Potency of the act is not affected since it has other features
    like the penalty clause etc in which the real power lies.

    6. In the indian setup, Individual officers are not
    liable/accountable to the public. they are accountable to the govt.
    the govt in turn is accountable to the public. so if there
    are “wrong” decisions, then the govt is to be thrown out. that
    according to him is how the indian constitution meant it to be.

    7. then he digressed on how india a developing country should not be
    compared with a developed one. said that there was corruption in the
    UK 50 (i guess he meant 100+) yrs ago and that given time for india
    to evolved we would also be corruption free. claimed that corruption
    was universal🙂 … lower level corruption is not in the US coz the
    standard of living is higher and the day-to-day officials wud not
    indulge into petty corruption. …. for him it wasnt because of the
    laws but because of the economic standard

    his closing disclaimer is that he wasnt speaking as a govt official,
    but as a concerned citizen wanting to know why we are so worked up.

    his email is dineshbsingh@gmail.com …. but he categorically told me
    not to expect any reply since he is busy🙂

    i hope i covered everything🙂

    -vishal

  7. rtiact2005 said

    got through to suresh parchouri’s secretary, Mr D. B. Singh and got into a discussion with him for a few minutes.

    he said along with the decision, the reasons for the decisions would also be disclosed. only thing that wont be disclosed is the names of the officials.
    he also said that in no other country is the intra, inter service/agency communication is disclosed. when i told him that in the US it is disclosed after the decision is taken he refused to accept it.

    he excused himself saying that he had a meeting to go to and asked me to call him in 15 minutes

    the number is got through to is 2303 4642.

    will send other details later.

    -vishal

  8. Dear friends,

    I think it should be ok if the decision and reason for the decision are disclosed. The names of officials should not be needed.

    Is there anything else in File notings which won’t be disclosed?

    Please help me understand this.

    Thanks,
    Mukesh Bansal

  9. P.K. Aditya, Chandigarh said

    Excuse me for saying: “are telephone calls of any use?” Who will remember, who called and why.

    One point that all of us are missing is to somehow impress the futility of the RTI 2005, vis-a-vis the position of what the government could withold before the RTI Act? Only that covered under Sec 123 of the Evidence Act and Art 74(2) of the Constitution could be witheld. Does non applicability of all other laws that our hands have been cut with the promilgation of the RTI Act. Eminent advocates should somehow knock at the door of the Supreme Court before it is too late.

    P.K. Aditya

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