Our ruling party has declared the battle against corruption to be a top priority. However, corruption is still widespread in the country, with numerous cases of political and bureaucratic corruption, public funds theft, fraudulent procurement practices, and judicial corruption. It is the abuse of authority and money by governments and individuals for personal gain, such as lobbying or diverting funds intended for public welfare into private sectors.
Corruption is a problem that, like a weed in a crop, threatens government transparency and citizen accountability. However, where there is a problem, there is also a solution: RTI.
Yes, Information is power but not by itself. Information, on the other hand, is an essential first step in the exercise of economic and political power. Changes in who can do what are brought about through opening up information channels.
In India, the government passed the landmark Right to Information Act in 2005 after a statewide movement driven by grassroots and civil society organizations. Since then, social activists, civil society organizations, and ordinary citizens have used the Act to effectively combat corruption and increase government transparency and accountability.
Right to Information laws give citizens the legal right to access information stored by their governments, bringing much-needed transparency to the government’s otherwise opaque operations. More than 80 countries have now passed such legislation, with the number expanding every year. The RTI Act of India is widely regarded as a robust and effective statute. Over the last six years, ordinary Indian residents have used the RTI to demand a wide range of information from their government.
The RTI Act of 2005 was enacted by the Government of India to provide transparency to an environment riddled with intrigue, secrecy, and corruption. This law has been used quite effectively by Indian citizens to bring about both large and little changes. The RTI Act has profoundly altered the power dynamic between the government and the governed, bringing together individuals who wield state authority in any form on the one hand, and millions of people who are impacted by the state’s decisions and operations on the other. No other law in India’s statute book allows citizens so much ability to question any public authority in the country in such a straightforward manner. And every citizen needs to take advantage of this power which is given to them by asking questions to their government by filing RTI requests, rather than assuming that they are answering us because it is their right to inquire.