RIGHT TO INFORMATION – THE META DATA
Right to information and then later privacy was to bring about a tectonic change in the life of the common citizen, how far we have progressed can be open to question. How many use the right to information for their own specific needs and how much of that information has been provided in a reasonable time leading to the purpose being served? Has right to information gained the status of a tool in the fight against injustice and highhandedness; the government information readily available coming to your rescue. The right to privacy on the other hand provides that your information / data; public, private and otherwise cannot be used for purposes for which you have not consented. Nothing much has happened since the grant of this fundamental right by landmark Supreme Court decision.
What finally defines the operational utility of laws of this nature is the meta data. Meta data is the data of the data, or data behind the data. Transactions of information by a few individuals, organizations, NGOs / activists and the press might not be even the tip of the proverbial iceberg. The data behind the numbers of applications and disposals are very important. The number and nature of parameters would decide in which manner the metadata can help. Which strata of the society does the maximum number of applications come from? What is the rural / urban divide? What have been the main concerns which they have tried to get addressed? What has been the nature of information which has failed to get an answer?
What have been the nature of cases which have gone in for appeal? Whether people are trying to get their issues addressed through this tool or is it being used via-media? How much of information is being garnered by third parties for commercial, media or professional reasons? Are the profiles of officers handling this different or are they also an archetypical bureaucratic? There can be many more questions which bring forth the true state of affairs, through the meta data which gets generated while the normal Right to Information process goes on. This would bring the data enabled picture, as it stands now and hopefully can provide a clue as to direction it should take. Did the vociferous votaries continue to remain the same?
Other critical area which can generate very valuable information is getting the name of the official / executive who has taken that decision. That gives you the whole landscape? While some amount of information has been transacted under the right to information, it does not give the overall picture. The official remains unknown so does the workflow. There is a man behind every decision / information. The work flow of decision making gives an idea of the decision-making process. The committees set up as a part of decision-making processes and its proceedings provide the connect to the decision / information. We get to know the officials’ role in it. It throws light into the rightness or otherwise of things. Governmental information is an ecosystem and getting into the connects puts things in the right perspective, from an empirical / objective point of view.
BEING WELL INFORMED ON A DECISION / INFORMATION CAN BE THE NEXT LOGICAL STEP.