10 years of RTI, PM pitches for more transparency

RSTV Bureau

New Delhi: Prime Minister Narendra Modi with Finance Minister Arun Jaitley at the inauguration of the 10th Annual Convention of Central Information Commission, in New Delhi on October 16, 2015. Photo – PTI

Addressing the convention celebrating a decade of Right to Information (RTI), Prime Minister Narendra Modi assured that the incumbent BJP-led NDA government will make RTI a robust tool of governance. Speaking on Friday, inaugurating 10th anniversary of Central Information Commission (CIC) at New Delhi, the Prime Minister also said his government merits transparency above everything.

“Why can’t we bring transparency proactively? Why should anyone make effort to get information? The effort of the government should be that citizen should get information easily,” said PM Modi.

Significantly, some activists including Aruna Roy boycotted this annual event on the grounds that certain activists were not invited to the event. This year, the event was limited to the registered NGOs alone and individual activists were not invited due to security reasons.

On Thursday, some of the leading RTI activists including Aruna Roy, Lokesh Batra, Venkatesh Nayak,
Anjali Bhardwaj and Nikhil Dey, had announced their decision to boycott the opening ceremony of the event.

“We have resolved that the members of the NCPRI who have received invitations (and have not as yet been uninvited) will not attend the inaugural session,” National Campaign for the People’s Right to Information (NCPRI) told the press on Thursday.

Back at the event, the Prime Minister urged government departments to take every RTI application seriously and to keep in mind “three T — Timeliness, Transparency and Trouble-free” approach while replying to the applications seeking information under the RTI.

Pitching Right to Information as the way to question the government, PM Modi emphasised it will increase faith in democracy.

“If we limit RTI just to reply to questions, there will be no changes in governance. We have to analyse the RTI questions and ponder whether there is need to make changes in policy matters,” he said at the CIC event held at the national capital.

Further, the Prime Minister said his government’s Digital India initiative, which will ensure that all administrative work is done online, is fully linked with the RTI initiative.

“When matters go online, all issues become transparent…Maximum online, maximum transparency. There is no need for maintaining secrecy in administrative work. Those days are gone,” he said.

The importance of the RTI act was reiterated to the audience when the PM said “The awareness of people gives strength to government, an aware society becomes an asset to the nation.”

Speaking on the occasion, Union Finance Minister Arun Jaitley too lauded RTI as a tool of effective governance saying, “it has transformed us during the last few decades and particularly in the last decade.”

(With inputs from the PTI)