Search This Blog

Sunday, February 3, 2008

RTI For Babus too!

In his column,"Dilli Ka Babu" in the Deccan Chronicle,(Sunday February 3) Dilip Cherian complains, " Babus misuse RTI Act".

The Central Information Commission is "busy playing agony aunt" to a score (sic) of babus 'whining"(sic) over various promotional and compensation matters.

Quoting "insiders" on this "trend in babudom"(sic) he says "many bureaucrats are now actually using the RTI Act for their own personal vested interest".

"Ranging from scrutinising file details when superseded to "petty" complaints on out of turn allotment of houses, these complaints make up an "alarming" 40% of the ones received by the CIC.

"No wonder" commiserates Cherian, Wajahat Habibullah, Chief Information Commissioner is "worried" about the backlog, as it is already dealing with a huge- one of more than 12,000 second appeals by "citizens".

Cherian then names a few a babus, who according to him have committed the heinous, unpardonable act of demanding their rights under the law and I do not know any of them, in fact I do not know another soul who has used the RTI.

As somebody who has been at the receiving end of serial babu bellicosity since the last twenty years, I ought to find this news appealing.

I find it appalling.

Because in typical "babu" fashion, this snippet of PR cleverness, diverts our attention from the real culprits, PIOs who appear to be hoarding simple, innocuous information that may be necessary to the appellants for the dignified conduct of their daily life and misdirects our indignation on the hapless victims who have been recalled to be skewered in public.

Is it possible that these vilified babus are actually the orphans? Those currently orphaned without a powerful sugar daddy?

But they are also citizens, entitled to the full protection and succor of the law.

To label any group,vilify them and strip them of their rights and dignity is... not cool.

The piece makes another diabolical Catch 22 distinction.

Between "private" and so called "public" interest .

So, now, you can deny information because it constitutes mere individual interest...and also because it might compromise the glorious national interest.

Is "private interest" such a shameful and socially undesirable disease? Does our Constitution only permit "thekedars" of the public interest to exist?

So,who's manufacturing the backlog of second appeals?

Is it the hapless petitioner or the callous appellate authority protecting "vested interests",patrons and mafioso types?

Shovel it out , I say.

If that's what it takes to unshackle our babus from the choke hold of the mafioso types.

And what value are the appellate authorities adding?

Would it not be more rational and productive, for the Commissioners to wield their powers like a hot cleaver to smite the dysfunctional appellate authorities who refuse to "apply their minds" to protect the Law?

Do that Sarvashri Commissioners and watch the backlog -12,000? Such a big deal? In a nation of a billion citizens ? In the Land of the Rising IT Sun?- melt away.

No comments: