Daily Post 1358
THE INFORMATION / DATA REGIME
The information quick fix has always taken us deep into quicksand with no way to come out. The IT world calls it data, measurable in quantity, then analyse, project and decide. The discrepancy in data in governance is legendary or the different methods of measurement or the quantum of disclosure can put you at your wits end. One news channel investigates into the discrepancy in number of corona death cases in Delhi; figures from different govt. agencies collated. That figures are still being debated is a travesty of the free / truthful information regime ushered in this country by the Right to Information Act, 2005.
While the force of law can set right issues to a considerable degree, if properly implemented, the change of mindset to be brought about to align with the new enactment seems to nobody’s concern. The ultimate irony of the situation is that the man in charge of Delhi is the same person who was one of the catalysts to have brought about this great change. He used this as a tool for his activism. When the representatives of govt and bureaucracy don’t respond to any request, query or clarification, what does the media or any one do? Information is treated as an independent fact / activity, in reality it is governance itself. How do we manifest good governance, if not through data?
What do you consider information? What is asked in a RTI request for Rs.10 is only the purview of the right to information? How does one find the availability of beds? From the right to information we have to move forward to Open Data Regime. This would not be getting information when you have to beg for it, the transparent, fair and responsible governments, provide to the citizens, all the information that is required by them. All the information in public interest. Something, which is a tool for my basic day to day living. It is an enablement of life. It is ease of living. It is not the right to information which one is able to exercise after fulfilling all procedures and facing all hiccups. Only somebody in dire need or has vested interest or is making a living out of it would have time, inclination and the energy to battle out information in this manner.
The secrecy, the veil and convoluted data are not in the spirit of either the right to information or an Open Data Regime, which should be our destination. Democratisation of Data today is today a touchstone of democratic governments. Standardisation can be an element which will help all elements in the data life cycle. From the ease of citizen to ease of analysis, planning and decision making, the fallout would be a win win situation for all. A trust which only data can build, ballots have not taken us a long way in this regard. John Hopkins University has become the sole repository of COVID-19 data which the world relies on, goes to its credit. Let trust be build to data.
PLAYING WITH DATA IS WORSE THAN PLAYING WITH FIRE. THESE EMBERS NEVER DIE.