Usual suspects

Forget the Internet. Welcome to roadblocks on the information route

Last Updated: Sunday 07 June 2015

-- perception seems to be where it's all at. The government -- actually the minions who run it -- thinks citizens don't really want to burden their limited cranial matter with stuff that doesn't, well, really concern them that much. But a lot of people don't agree. Including this magazine. We vote people into power, we pay taxes and we really want that all the revenues that the government collects go into socially useful activity. People don't really care about figures relating to the gdp growth rate. As long as they can eat well, drink clean water, get medical attention, have a decent place to stay in, and, of course, the opportunity to get on in life -- rocket science, celebrity status through careers in movies, fashion, rock'n'roll, whatever.

For all this to happen, we need to have information about what the political class and bureaucrats are doing and how they are spending our money -- and why. Let's go back a few days: the Delhi government just gave ministers and mlas a significant raise. And let's not even talking about the Members of Parliament Local Area Development Scheme -- Rs 2 crore annually for each of almost 550 mps to, at best, pretty up their constituencies, or, worst-case scenario, taking care of their future generations, whose potential contributions to social welfare we all know about. We all hope we could decide on our annual raises, but unfortunately that's not likely to happen.

Which brings us, putting it mildly, to the disingenuous arguments and, frankly, shady machinations behind the implementation of the Right to Information Act, recently, um, implemented. While the jury is out on the chief information commissioner, Wajahat Habibullah, it's pretty obvious that superannuated mandarins with long history sheets and top places in the international hide-and-seek rankings should not be heading state information commissions. As for Habibullah's contention that bureaucrats are preferred because they know procedure -- we'll leave that to you. With a thought: hail, hail the gang's all here. Unfortunately, other auguries don't prefigure bright light at the end of the tunnel, given that our highly esteemed president recently refused to provide the Nanavati commission with the late K R Narayanan's sibilant missives to Gujarat chief minister Narendra Modi after the post-Godhra riots.

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