2008: Year of the RTI user?

As the year draws to a close, I reflect on which law has made the greatest difference to the quality of living of an average Indian citizen. The RTI Act, having born in previous years, cannot qualify itself to be considered as a new law. Yet, it has made immense contribution to the rising of awareness, and strengthened the resolve of the average Indian to seek accountability, even if the results are not immediately encouraging, due to our bureaucracy’s resistance to change. This latest decision by the newly-appointed Central Information Commissioner, Shailesh Gandhi directing the CBSE, Allahabad, to furnish the details of question-wise marks in Chemistry of a Class 12 student for the year 2006 is an instance of what an RTI applicant can achieve, if only he or she took the RTI fight to the finish. This is not to suggest that all RTI applicants taste success at the appellate stage in Central Information Commission. But the appointment of an erstwhile RTI activist, Shailesh Gandhi, as one of the Central Information Commissioners recently has led to considerable optimism about the RTI movement. In this interview, Shailesh Gandhi, recalls how he was drawn into the RTI movement, leaving a profitable business venture. His blog posts apparently stopped after becoming the Information Commissioner. In his latest post in July, he reflects on the work of the Commission, and offers an in-house critique of its tendency to reject appeals on procedural grounds in a candid manner.

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