Digital India complements RTI’

Digital India complements RTI’

The Hindu 17 October 2015…

Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Friday emphasised that transparency was vital to good governance.

He was speaking at the 10th Annual Convention of the Right to Information (RTI) law. The theme of the two-day convention celebrating a decade of the transparency law is ‘RTI: Outlook for the future – Trust through Transparency.’ The Right to Information Act was passed by the Rajya Sabha on May 12, 2005.

Inaugurating the convention, Mr. Modi said that his government’s Digital India initiative was, “complementary to RTI, because putting information online brings transparency, which in turn builds trust. RTI has become a tool for good governance. The RTI Act should not just be limited to a citizen’s right to know but it should empower every one to hold truth to power.”

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley complemented the Central Information Commissioners (CIC) on the completion of a decade of the RTI Act and called it an ‘exemplary law.’ The transparency law had transformed society and India had passed the first stage of civilised governance. The use of technology has made the transparency law more effective, less time-consuming and cost-effective, he added.

Meanwhile, prominent RTI activists like Aruna Roy, Anjali Bhardwaj, Nikhil Dey, Shekhar Singh and Venkatesh Nayak stayed away from the celebrations, after a vast majority of activists were not cleared by the Intelligence Bureau to attend the seminar. Of the 80 lakh people who use the transparency law, only seven activists were approved by the IB, after detailed background checks, Ms. Roy informed.

“This should have been an occasion to celebrate. Activists are being treated like criminals. The IB has never been involved in the past, despite the fact the PMs have been attending the valedictory. We decided to boycott the inaugural session. When we arrived for the sessions, the PM was not attending, we were still not allowed inside. Eventually, the Joint Registrar of the Commission had to get us in. The easiest thing to do would be to boycott the entire session but we had to raise questions. We need to assert our rights and will be attending the sessions tomorrow,” said Mr. Nayak.