Monday, December 26, 2005

Corruption and RTI (Right to Information)

Two recent articles from Indiatogether.

(1) Warming hands to remain undertrials forever
Describes the author's first hand experience of corruption at the local court. He makes two very important points:
(i) the giving and taking bribes is not only bad as it becoming a norm for anything to be done, it is also undermining the rules that we live by. If rules can be subverted by warming hands of what use are they? A related situation is when these rules are arbitarily applied to a few and not applied to others (either through bribes or connections).
(ii) The functioning of the judicial system, where a very common scene is of the judge annoucing a future date for the hearing. The point being, it takes a real long time for each case to be heard and to conduct a trial and the need is for a more efficient process to minimize time before a judgement is passed. Got me thinking on what might be the reasons for this: corruption by the officers to just prolong the proceedings, lack of judicial staff, too many pending cases, dont-care attitude towards prisoners (anyway he is under undertrial let him/her chill in the prison) etc. I think it maybe a mixture of all this and more.

(2) Absurdly low rents, illegal occupation
On a related but slightly different note, this article describes the efforts of the author (Shailesh Gandhi) to get answers about the leases on (State) land deals in Mumbai and the amount of money lost on them due to ridiculously low pricing.
The important thing about the article being how the people are trying to put to use the new national RTI (Right To Information) Law and make the government more accountable. The RTI gives the people the right to ask for information on almost all government procedures and is landmark law in my opinion and has the potential to monitor government activities.
Several other cases related to using RTI are listed at: India Together - RTI in India

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