Right to Information – Master key to good governance

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RTI Portal – How IT empowers people – Right to Information Act, 2005 mandates information on demand to the citizens of India

Posted by rtiact2005 on June 14, 2006


RTI Portal –  http://rti.gov.in
NIC created the RTI Portal – http://rti.gov.in ,  in an attempt to provide a portal gateway for the citizens to search for information published by various government departments on their websites.

The portal is meant to be a central repository of information where citizens can access information of any government organization through a user-friendly search engine. This is expected to ensure a proactive and fast flow of information.
As of now, the portal is not yet full-fledged. On-line uploading of the documents by various central / state governments/departments are in progress. The government organisations have to contact NIC for a user ID to upload information on to the portal. It was at the behest of the Ministry of Personnel that NIC initiated the ICT support for RTI Act.

The support from NIC included:
• Setting up of a specialized website ( http://rti.gov.in ) for proactive disclosure of documents of various public authorities under central & state governments.
• Development of portal service for uploading of the documents by the concerned public authorities
• Directory service of public authorities, public information officers, appellate authorities, chief information commissions etc.
• User friendly search engines
• Workflow application for monitoring of status of requests, appeals, complaints etc.
• Repository of the requests that have already been answered in a way that is searchable by the citizens. (Source: http://www.digitalopportunity.org/article/view/125253/1/1088)

NIC has completed the creation of RTI website. Over 300 departments have uploaded their documents. A repository of public information officers of various departments has also been built, to help the citizens to approach them for request for information. However, a lot more effort has to be put in for the portal to be a well-equipped central repository of information.

The National eGovernance Plan (NeGP) has planned over 100,000 common service centres to serve the citizens. Citizens can avail all central and state e-governance services as well as digitized government information on the Internet. The citizen information centers in several states also serve the information needs of the citizens.

This is just the beginning. For the law to be truly effective and ICT to be used extensively to enable the law, there should be an active participation from the community at large, including government, bureaucracy, NGOs, media, lawyer community and citizens.


How IT empowers people
ICT can help in awareness creation as well as ensure the speedy delivery of the information sought by citizens, says Kavitha Alexis
Thursday, June 01, 2006

Right to Information Act, 2005 mandates information on demand to the citizens of India.. The extensive use of the Right to Information Act by the citizens is imperative for the success of the Act which could bring in a positive change in the current democratic set up of the country.

However, in the present scenario, effective implementation of the Act has a major impediment in the form of lack of awareness among officials and citizens. Unless both the segments are sensitized enough about the Act, it will just remain in the papers.

The efforts on this front from government, media, NGOs and lawyers can be boosted by the effective deployment of Information Communication Technlogy (ICT) tools. ICT can help in awareness creation as well as ensure the speedy delivery of the information sought by citizens.

The chapter II – 4 (1-a) of RTI Act specifies the need to computerize department records and the use of internet to disseminate information to the people. “Every public authority shall maintain all its records duly catalogued and indexed in a manner and the form which facilitates the right to information under this Act and ensure that all records that are appropriate to be computerised are, within a reasonable time and subject to availability of resources, computerised and connected through a network all over the country on different systems so that access to such records is facilitated”.

ICT as an enabler
This is the age of Internet, where any information is available on our fingertips. So, it becomes all the more important that we use ICT to exercise our information rights, which can bring about a positive change in our lives and our governance systems. A proper information management system in the government departments is required to strengthen the information flow.

ICT can be used to:
· Digitise and document all the manual records and archives
· Create a content repository to store all the records (Eg: Web Portal)
· Create information kiosks for citizens to access the stored information

Based on this, the central and state government departments are working towards digitizing all records and publishing relevant information of each department on their respective websites.

Yet another major initiative on this front is the RTI Portal initiated by National Informatics Centre.

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