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RTI Act: A strong tool to cleanse corruption in India
After the resignation of chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah, some celebrities like Aamir Khan and Anna Hazare have recently come forward and suggested the name of former IPS officer Kiran Bedi as his successor.
RESIGNATION OF chief information commissioner Wajahat Habibullah has once again brought Right to Information Act in lime light. Some celebrities have recently come forward and suggested the name of former IPS officer Kiran Bedi as successor of Wajahat Habibullah.  Kiran Bedi is also ready to serve as chief information commissioner of India.

Among such celebrities, Aamir Khan and Anna Hajare are prominent. In their opinion, Kiran Bedi may bring more transparency in this act. Presently, issue of transparency in RTI is so pertinent and hot.

Today, the power of RTI can be clearly seen by the panic it creates on the face of corrupt officials. Before RTI, corruption was flourishing everywhere without any check. Nowadays, RTI has enabled us to raise demand to provide any kind of information (except defense and sensitive aspects) to them. Its repercussion is therefore very positive for the development of nation.

Since its inception, Right to Information has always remained in limelight as it brings  transparency. However, it is a unique provision which was enacted by the Central government in 2005, for providing information to applicants as per their requirement. Anyhow, some lacunae regarding this act may not defeat its importance.
 
Before this act, nobody was aware about wrongdoing of various wings of the government. A number of people were wasting their days in search of justice. However, RTI provision proved panacea for those people, who were seeking justice by the help of relevant information. Moreover, there is still scope of improvement in every layer of this act.

As per the latest survey report, 27 per cent applicants are only getting their desired information under the provision of this act. This low percentage of utilisation of RTI may be matter of great concern for the government as well general people at large.
 
Lack of awareness on the subject of RTI among people may be serious matter. But inability of government to provide information as per their prerequisite is more serious affair.

Nevertheless, main issue is still lack of awareness about right to information. It obviously raises questions on the government’s seriousness about the transparency law.

In 2009-10, the government has allocated Rs 14.16 crore as budget for RTI, but only a meager amount of Rs 3.55 crore has been spent till October, 2009. This is less than half the amount spent on RTI in 2008-09 for the same period. It is indeed bad indication.

According to sources, only 12 per cent women and 26 per cent men across the country were even aware about the RTI law. Only 13 per cent rural people and 33 per cent of the urban population have benefited from RTI awareness campaigns.

The government is ready to strengthening the awareness programme for effective implementation of the RTI act. Even fund to the tune of Rs 4.76 crore have released to the state information commissions and Rs 4.10 crores released to the administrative training Institutes for awareness campaigns and development of printing material in regional language.

Moreover, efforts of the government to spread awareness have not really worked. Awareness of citizens on their rights as an applicant under the RTI is minimal. Much is to be done for improving the convenience for filing RTI requests. Over 26 per cent of citizens had to pay more than three visits to submit their applications to public authorities.

About 47 per cent of the applicants found no signboards at the public authority’s offices to help them. There is also the problem of lack of updated list of public information officers (PIOs).

Complaints of inadequate help provided to applicants and non-friendly attitude of the PIOs is common phenomenon. 75 per cent of the citizens are still dissatisfied with the quality of information provided and find the data either incomplete or irrelevant.

It is high time for the government to take corrective measures to make RTI act more effective.  In this connection, role of RTI and chief information commissioner are very significant.

A honest and visionary person will remove corruption from the RTI and if such dreams come true, corruption and other irregularities will automatically vanished from other spheres of government machinery. Image of Kiran Bedi is faultless. She may certainly bring change in the whole system of RTI Act.

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