Right to Information
FTII deadlock: Students on fast unto death, activists invoke RTI
With the government mum on the report submitted by the three-member committee appointed by the I&B Ministry, and students now taking the extreme step of fast unto death, RTI activist demands transparency
 
The 90-day old stir of students from the Film and Television Institute of India (FTII) demanding ouster of newly appointed chairman, Gajendra Singh and four other members of the Board, took a new turn today, with five students going on hunger strike unto death. 
 
In the meanwhile, a three-member Committee appointed by Ministry of Information and Broadcasting (I&B Ministry) and headed by AM Khan, Registrar of Newspaper of India, visited the FTII premises on 21 August 2015. The Committee is said to have submitted its report to the government, but the latter is silent over the same.
 
Some Pune-based journalists, who demanded access to the findings of the report, under Right to Information (RTI) Act, were denied information. RTI activist Vijay Kumbhar has now invoked Section 4 of the RTI Act and intimated to the Director of FTII, that he would like to inspect files under this section, to make matters more transparent, over this contentious issue.
 
In a letter to the director of FTII, seeking inspection of files, Kumbhar has demanded the following:
a) All the letters shared and communication between the FTII director and I&B Ministry, Registrar and the Ministry, Dean and the Ministry with respect to the strike.
b)  The minutes and video recordings of all the discussions held between the SM-Khan led three-member delegation and Director, Registrar, Faculty, students and staff on 21 August 2015, which was recorded by the FTII administration on the day. 
c) Details of the report submitted by the SM Khan-led delegation available with the FTII director.
d) All the documents in the file number 29012/2/2015-TS available with the Tutorial Section of the FTII.
 
Kumbhar says, “The information I have sought comes under Section 4 (1) (c) and 4 (1) (d) of the RTI Act, as the decision concerns and affects the citizens. And also Provision under 4 (1) (b) (v) of the Act incorporates rules, regulation the rules, regulations, instructions, manuals and records, held by it or under its control or used by its employees for discharging its functions.’’
 
Kumbhar, in the communication to the FTII Director, has pointed out the following, to inform why all the above information should be in the public domain and be made available on request under RTI. Here is what he wrote: 
 
1. Your kind attention is drawn to Section 4 of the Right to Information Act, 2005 under Chapter II on `Right to Information and Obligation of Public Authorities'.
 
2. As per the provision, it is obligatory for every public authority to publish certain categories of documents so as to make voluntary disclosure of information so that citizens have ‘minimum resort to the use of this Act to obtain information’.
 
3. Information covered by Section 4, in fact, should have been published on 12 October 2005 and disseminated widely in such form and manner which is easily accessible to the public and should have been updated at regular intervals later.
 
4. It is further explained in the provision that "disseminated" means making known or communicated' the information to the public through notice boards, newspapers, public announcements, media broadcasts, the internet or any other means, including inspection of offices of any public authority. I am enclosing here the full text of Section 4 as adopted by the Parliament of India for your reference.
 
5. Nevertheless, citizens have a right to inspect these documents in the office of the public authority, as explicitly mentioned in the provision under Section 4.
 
6. It may be noticed that a citizen desiring to inspect the documents containing information covered under Section 4 of the Right to Information Act, 2005, need not make any formal requisition under Section 6 of the Act because these documents should have already been published by the public authority so that citizens have ‘minimum resort to the use of this Act to obtain information’.
 
7. Provision under 4 (1) (b) (v) of the Act incorporates rules, regulation the rules, regulations, instructions, manuals and records, held by it or under its control or used by its employees for discharging its functions
 
8. The files come under section 4 (1) (c) and 4 (1) (d) of the RTI Act, as the decision concerns and affects the citizens.
 
9. Please note that it is not necessary for me under the Act to give such notice before inspection of documents covered under Section 4 of the Act. However, being a responsible citizen, I thought it appropriate to intimate you beforehand.
 
10. Implementation of this provision of the Act (under Section 4) is the direct responsibility of the head of the public authority. In this specific instance, it is your direct responsibility. Hence this letter is addressed to you and not to any public information officer (PIO) since no formal requisition is needed to be filed.
 
In the meanwhile, the issue got murkier with the government accusing some students of over-staying and not completing their projects. In 2010, the FTII appointed a Group of Experts (GoE) under former director of National Film Archives of India (NFAI), to prepare a Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the revitalisation of the Institute, in various areas including delay of students’ projects. The DPR proposed measures to help FTII to become a centre of excellence in the field of cinema and television. However, the report lies in neglect, Here is the link: 
 
(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, and also convener of the Pune Metro Jagruti Abhiyaan. She is the recipient of prestigious awards like the Statesman Award for Rural Reporting which she won twice in 1998 and 2005 and the Chameli Devi Jain award for outstanding media person for her investigation series on Dow Chemicals. She co-authored the book “To The Last Bullet - The Inspiring Story of A Braveheart - Ashok Kamte” with Vinita Kamte and is the author of “The Mighty Fall”.)

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Believe it! We are wired for laziness
While you burn calories at the gym or while running in the neighbourhood park, our brain constantly works the opposite, looking for shortest route or choose to sit rather than stand, researchers report.
 
A team from Simon Fraser University in Canada found that our nervous systems are remarkably adept in changing the way we move so as to expend the least amount of energy possible.
 
In other words, humans are wired for laziness.
 
“We found that people readily change the way they walk - including characteristics of their gait that have been established with millions of steps over the course of their lifetime - to save quite small amounts of energy,” explained lead researcher Max Donelan.
 
This is completely consistent with the sense that most of us have that we prefer to do things in the least effortful way, like when we choose the shortest walking path or choose to sit rather than stand.
 
“Even within a well-rehearsed movement like walking, the nervous system subconsciously monitors energy use and continuously re-optimises movement patterns in a constant quest to move as cheaply as possible,” Bonelan informed.
 
To reach this conclusion, the researchers asked people to walk while they wore a robotic exoskeleton.
 
This contraption allowed the researchers to discourage people from walking in their usual way by making it more costly to walk normally than to walk some other way.
 
More specifically, the researchers made it more difficult for participants to swing their legs by putting resistance on the knee during normal walking, whereas the researchers eased this resistance for other ways of walking.
 
This allowed the researchers to test whether people can sense and optimise the cost associated with their movements in real time.
 
The experiment revealed that people adapt their step frequency to converge on a new energetic optimum very quickly - within minutes.
 
What's more, people do this even when the energy savings is quite small: less than 5 percent.
 
There is a bright side to this.
 
“Sensing and optimising energy use that quickly and accurately is an impressive feat on the part of the nervous system. You have to be smart to be that lazy!” noted lead author Jessica Selinger.
 
The findings, which were made by studying the energetic costs of walking, apply to most of our movements.
 
The paper appeared in the Cell Press journal Current Biology.

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Common cancer drug from rare plant produced in laboratory
Scientists from Stanford University have found a way to produce a common cancer drug -- previously only available from an endangered Himalayan plant -- from an easily grown laboratory plant.
 
The scientists believe that the technique of shifting medicinal properties from rare plants to laboratory plants could be applied to a wide range of other plants and drugs, thereby leading to a more stable supply of drugs derived from rare plants.
 
Elizabeth Sattely, assistant professor of chemical engineering at Stanford, and colleagues identified the genes that enable the leafy Himalayan plant mayapple to produce the chemicals key to producing a widely used cancer-fighting drug called etoposide.
 
The team used a novel technique to identify proteins that work together in a molecular assembly line to produce the cancer drug. 
 
They then showed that the proteins could produce the compound outside the plant - in this case, they had put the machinery in a different plant.
 
"A big promise of synthetic biology is to be able to engineer pathways that occur in nature, but if we do not know what the proteins are, then we cannot even start on that endeavour," Sattely said.
 
The researchers believe that they would be able to eventually produce the drug in yeast which can be grown in large vats in the lab to better provide a stable source of drugs.
 
The findings were detailed in the journal Science.

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