Congratulations, it is an eye opener to other states that are thinking of such schemes.
In Hyderabad, the government...
Thanks. You have raised a very pertinent issue. My family is a great lover of Makhana and we use it in different ways. Slowly...
like an unstoppable juggernaut, the movement demanding the right to information is gaining momentum and popularity. A dharna (demonstration) and a day-long seminar held at Jaipur, a memorandum presented to the Rajasthan chief minister (cm) Bhairon Singh Shekhawat, a jan sunwayi (public hearing) at Beawar, and all this in just three days in the third week of July.
"It is just not possible for the government to provide photocopying machines at the panchayat level. The cost would be too prohibitive," the cm said at a seminar organised in Jaipur by the press institute of India and the Pink City Press Club. "Developmental works would grind to a halt as officials would be busy looking into the demands of the people."
If those spear-heading the movement were in any manner optimistic or hopeful about the response from the state government, the cm's remarks at the seminar must have come down on them like a pail of ice cold water.
On the other hand, however, the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (mkss) can take heart from the fact that their effort has stirred not just the locals but the Press Council of India, the national media and the country's intelligentsia. The Press Council is also organising a workshop in the national capital on August 10-11.
The common minimum programme of the United Front government states that the Official Secrets Act will be reviewed and amended, keeping in tune to the need for openness and transparency in governance, within six months of assuming office. The efforts of mkss and the Press Council, could well assist in attaining this end.
The issue of access to information, has long been a sore point between the government and those seeking information from it. This time around, the issue had shot into prominence in Rajasthan when the mkss started a people's movement in the state. Their initial agitation had culminated on April 5, 1995, when the cm announced in the state assembly that every citizen had the right to information. He said that on making a payment, anyone could demand and receive details of expenditure on work done over the past 15 years in their villages and all the documents could be photocopied as evidence ( Down To Earth , Vol 4, No 24).
But all subsequent moves towards getting some response from the government have failed. A committee, set up to look into the demand of the people, was supposed to present its report on July 15, but has met only once and is yet to commence work. Shekhawat said that he could not guarantee a time frame for this committee to complete its task.
The argument that the government cannot bear the expense of providing photocopying machines at the village level, does not seem to hold ground. Details of minimum irregularities, made available to the mkss by the district administration for the year 1992-93 in four villages, amounted to Rs 61,927. This just goes to show that any initial expenditure would definitely be offset by subsequent savings.
The argument that this empowerment would halt all developmental works as officials would be busy tending to public demands, is justified to the extent that governments and the administration have only themselves to blame for losing the faith of the citizens. If development were to slow down and start on a clean slate, the hitch may be worthwhile.