The opposition to proposed controversial amendments to The Right to Information (RTI) Act seems to have gained momentum with most political parties supporting efforts by political rights activists to stop dilution of the Act. The RTI guarantees access to Government files and has been praised as a key achievement in the Indian democracy. The Government’s proposal is to withhold bureaucratic notes that may contain embarrassing or inconvenient information or opposition to a proposal.
Political activists have been arguing that these key notes will strengthen
campaigns against corruption, nepotism, and anti-national activities. They say
that without these notes, the files themselves may not contain any information
of substance. Hence they say that this new campaign to stop the proposal “is
critical to save democracy” and have launched an indefinite hunger strike in the
Capital. Support for this campaign has gained momentum in
Uttar Pradesh including students, Non-Government Organizations (NGO's), old age homes, children rehabilitation centers, and slum-dwellers. Specifically, the communists who are also allies of the Federal Government have been politically supporting this campaign.
The RTI is a double edged sword. While it is one of the best instruments available to the people to fight crime, corruption, and inefficiency but is also an instrument that can stop development by unscrupulous individuals, organization, or political parties for personal gain. The purpose of the RTI is to empower the people to know what the Government is up to so they can take judicial action and fight for their legitimate rights. Interestingly, villagers and the poor are the ones who have already filed RTI applications and are awaiting replies but it is unclear what the intentions are. Those who have filed are mostly illiterate and do not know the basics of governance and it is unclear what they intend to do with this information or who is motivating them to seek information. No statistical information is available on the nature, geographical, political, or demographical information of those who have sought information or the organizations they have sought information from.