RIGHT TO INFORMATION
The battle for right to information, Magsaysay Award for Emergent Leadership, and the famed India Against Corruption and a new breed party coming to power in the national capital on a popular wave seemed to herald a different India. Well educated and committed who wanted to see a sea change in Indian governance, techies and youngsters who wanted to transform India. A revolution was right there in the making. Lokpal seemed to be a reality. Better right to information and Lokpal, a new era of transparency and accountability was about to dawn. Today, we can only feel happy of the past which allowed us the dream of that possibility of change. It seems, the more we try to change, the more the stranglehold tightens.
The right to information hit the statute book and started making some amount of difference, unlike the fundamental right to privacy which still has to see the light of the day in the form of the Data Protection Act. The right to information went through the normal Indian rigmarole of both having a law and wrong doers not feeling the heat. This is a great trait which makes the Indian legal and the enforcement system, the nemesis of any sensible progress in any governance area. This was more than amplified in the effort to create a New Information Regime. The quality of implementation and the impact of any legislation has never been the matter of any concern for the governments down the ages.
The well-oiled Indian Statute Life Cycle played in full bloom. First the establishment of a huge governmental machinery for this purpose, with all the powers, perks and privileges. Every department started having a separate complement to handle a deluge of such requests. Many were deputed for this job leaving the regular duties unattended. As usual, a new breed of activists came into being. With the law in their hands, they did what they were best at. Such lobby type of formations has happened as a result of other laws as well. Governments also slowly got averse to the information law itself. The leader who came out of this movement was not interested in this right, when he dabbled with the levers of governance. The number of exemptions started increasing and slowly dilution came into full play.
Between misuse and unnecessary controls how freely can a law breathe? The Information Age in conjunction with the data driven world, the governance showed no response in that direction, whichever government might be. The information boards at project sites and Public Information Officers could not bring any sanity into the system. Opaqueness is the biggest privilege of the government and that keeps coming back again and again. The projects are in the open and so are the pronouncements, information or no information, what difference does it make. You cannot get any information or correct information with regards to any of the COVID-19 requirements. What can Lokpal do in the world of open black marketeering of everything, that is needed to pass over this current pandemic tsunami?
FROM INFORMATION WE HAVE GRADUATED TO MISINFORMATION, DISINFORMATION AND POST TRUTH.