Moneylife Events
RTI activist calls for reforming the culture of secrecy that breeds corruption

Bhaskar Prabhu, convenor of Mahiti Adhikar Manch, says the Right to Information movement must start from the home, through discussion and financial planning with all family members. He was addressing a Moneylife Foundation workshop on using the RTI Act effectively

“Nearly 70% of the Right to Information (RTI) applications are filed by government employees, seeking to know why they have not been promoted or why they have been transferred. Citizens should understand that the RTI is much more than that,” Bhaskar Prabhu, convenor of Mahiti Adhikar Manch said today. Mr Prabhu was speaking at a Moneylife Foundation workshop on ‘How to use the RTI Act effectively’.
Mr Prabhu gave the participants a crash course on the RTI Act, listing the history of its evolution, explaining in detail the salient features, the restrictions and exceptions, the rights of those seeking information and the process to file appeals and reviews.
“We have an inherent culture of secrecy, and it starts in our homes. If we start with our own homes, I think we will create an atmosphere of transparency that will reflect on our public authorities,” Mr Prabhu said. He asked participants how many people really discussed matters within their families before taking decisions, particularly financial decisions.
He described the nature of public information, the institutions that can be classified as public authorities and the forms in which information is available that can be applied for, like even being able to inspect official records.
Mr Prabhu gave numerous examples and tips on how to seek information through the RTI Act satisfactorily. But through the more than 90-minute presentation, he repeatedly underlined the importance of people to ACT on their issues, without which no legislation can work.
“It is the citizen’s right to demand that public authorities maintain records in a way which facilitates the RTI. Ask for a good record-keeping system,” Mr Prabhu said. He also said that in case someone opts for inspecting documents while seeking voluminous information, he must insist that the files/records be made available to him properly indexed and catalogued. “If the authorities resist, fight for it. They are bound to give you information in an accessible form.”
Mr Prabhu also outlined the hurdles that are put in the way of disseminating information and how one should counter them. He also talked about why public authorities should be proactive in disseminating information, and how public awareness can be spread about the legislation.
“Programmes should be conducted for the disadvantaged, to educate them on how to use the Act, suitable training material must be developed, public authorities must be asked to participate in training their public information officers and to sensitise them to voluntarily disclose required information in a cost effective and people-friendly manner,” he said.
Mr Prabhu’s presentation was the second programme on RTI conducted by Moneylife Foundation after the seminar on the ‘Proper and Responsible use of RTI’ addressed by eminent civic activist Ashok Ravat.
The RIT Act is being increasingly used by citizens to check on the progress of plans in their neighbourhood, allocation of funds for schemes and important decisions by the government and has helped in revealing mismanagement and corruption that public pressure can set right. It is key to transparent, accountable, efficient and corruption-free governance.
“If we need a transparent and corruption-free government, we should be proactive ourselves”, Mr Prabhu said. “We must stop bribing officials, and take up the RTI seriously to know about governance deficit. Then only can our grievances be addressed.”  




D Kirit

5 years ago

Agree with Mr. Prabhui fullly. Let us propogate RTI to have better corruption free India.

Chetan Bordawekar

5 years ago

With due respect to everyone at MoneyLIFE & Mr.Bhasker Prabhu, I was disappointed with the seminar. Mr.Prabhu explained How & Why to use RTI Act. But he didn't discussed the difficulties faced in getting information from Public Authorities. He didn't shared his own experience on RTI Act. I was surprised when he said, "I am not an Activist". Then Who is he? He also skipped many slides without informing what was it contained. He gave basic info like format of RTI application, which everyone knows. It could have been better if he would have allowed audiance to share their experience in short as this help others to take precaution while filing RTI application. Only plus point of seminar, was the small documentary in the begining, which was no doubt excellent. Overall a disappointing seminar.


5 years ago

Excellent views articulated by Mr.Prabhu. One must practice what one preaches.

Market might see minor gains: Weekly market report

The gains could fizzle out at 5,620-5,700 on the Nifty

It was a lacklustre week for the market despite positive domestic economic indicators.  The last two days displayed contrasting trends with the market witnessing a sharp fall on Thursday on global cues, whereas it recovered on Friday, cheering the electoral results in the four states and one Union Territory.

The market ended flat on the first three trading days of the week, fluctuating between positive and negative. It ended with a sharp cut of around 1.4% on Thursday, but recovered its losses on Friday and closed over 1% higher. Over the week, the market was flat with a mixed bias, as the Sensex added 12 points, while the Nifty shed seven points.

Among Sensex stocks, Hindustan Unilever (up 12%), DLF (up 6%), Bharti Airtel (up 5%), ITC (up 3%) and Jindal Steel & Power (up 2%) were the top gainers. On the other hand, Maruti Suzuki (down 4%), Mahindra & Mahindra, HDFC (down 3% each), HDFC Bank and Hindalco Industries (down 2% each) were the losers.

The BSE Realty index gained 4% and BSE TECk rose 1%, while BSE Bankex and BSE Capital Goods were down 1% each, in the sectoral space.

As the market tries to shrug off the downtrend, Friday’s gains could lead to a short-term rally that could fizzle out at 5,620-5,700.

In economic news, the Index of Industrial Production (IIP) for March stood at 7.3%, compared to 15.5% expansion in the same month a year ago. However, the performance in March was an improvement from the 3.6% growth registered in February this year. This apart, IIP growth for 2010-11 fell to 7.8% compared to 10.5% in the previous fiscal.

Food inflation dropped to 7.7% for the week ended 30th April, the lowest level in 18 months. The rate of price rise in food items was 8.53% in the previous week and 21.46% in the comparable period of 2010.

India’s exports grew by an annualised 34.4% to $23.9 billion in April, maintaining the tempo of the last financial year, despite a decline compared to the 44% growth in March. Imports for the opening month of fiscal 2011-12 were up 14.1% to $32.8 billion, leaving a trade gap of $8.9 billion.

The country’s total merchandise exports aggregated $246 billion, growing by an impressive 37.55% in the previous fiscal. Imports in the fiscal 2010-11 were $350 billion, down by 21.6%, and the trade deficit was $104 billion.

Chief economic advisor Kaushik Basu suggested that the finance ministry’s 9% growth projection for this fiscal may have to be revised on account of the high global commodity prices and the ongoing debt crisis in Europe.

He added that the country’s headline inflation is likely to be around 8.5% in April, below the 9% average projected by the Reserve Bank of India for the first half of 2011-12.

Echoing a harsher outlook, the International Monetary Fund (IMF) earlier in the week, revised downwards India’s growth outlook for 2011 to around 8% on the back of high inflation and the overall global economic outlook, clouded by rising commodity prices led by oil. The multilateral agency earlier also moderated the country’s growth projection to 8.2% from 8.4%.

Markets have been worried about high commodity prices, rising inflation, rising interest rates and a slowdown in consumer spending, together with the potential downward GDP growth forecasts, and the consensus is that this will determine the trend going ahead.

State-owned oil firms are likely to get the go-ahead to raise the price of petrol by up to Rs3 per litre, which they have not revised since January on informal ‘advice’ from the government in view of the recent state polls. The government is also considering a Rs3-Rs4 per litre hike in the price of diesel as well as the price of domestic LPG by Rs20-Rs25 per cylinder.

On the international front, the People’s Bank of China increased the banks’ reserve requirements by 50 basis points, the eighth time since October, in an attempt to ease inflationary pressures. The 0.5 percentage point increase in the reserve requirement ratio was announced Thursday, a day after China said inflation touched 5.3% in April, with food prices soaring at 11.5%. It’s the sixth straight month that food prices have risen at double-digit rates.

The Bank of Korea (BOK) left its key policy rate unchanged for a second month in a row. Most economists had expected the BOK to raise its policy rate by 0.25 percentage point this month, as part of an offensive against rising prices. It, however, suggested that it will resume tightening in the near future.


2G case: Court defers order on Kanimozhi’s bail plea to 20th May

Earlier, the court had on 7th May reserved its order on the bail pleas of Ms Kanimozhi and Sharad Kumar after hearing extensive arguments advanced by criminal lawyer Ram Jethmalani who, citing the charge-sheet, blamed former telecom minister A Raja for the offence attributed to Ms Kanimozhi

New Delhi: In a sort of anti-climax, a special court on Saturday prolonged the suspense on the bail application of DMK MP Kanimozhi in the second generation (2G) spectrum allocation case by deferring the pronouncement of its order till 20th May, reports PTI.

“The order is deferred to 20th May,” special Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) judge OP Saini said after marking the presence of all the accused including 43-year-old Kanimozhi, daughter of DMK chief M Karunanidhi.

Seeing a huge presence of journalists, judge Saini questioned as to why there were so many journalists and then simply passed the order.

CBI lawyer AK Singh told reporters outside the court that the only reason which the judge gave for not pronouncing the order was that it was not ready.

The court also adjourned its pronouncement of order till 20th May on the bail plea of Sharad Kumar, MD and CEO of Kalaignar TV.

Ms Kanimozhi was accompanied by her husband G Aravindan and DMK parliamentary party leader TR Baalu.

Earlier, the court had on 7th May reserved its order on the bail pleas of Ms Kanimozhi and Sharad Kumar after hearing extensive arguments advanced by criminal lawyer Ram Jethmalani who, citing the charge-sheet, blamed former telecom minister A Raja for the offence attributed to Ms Kanimozhi.

The special court, designated by the Supreme Court to deal exclusively with the 2G case, has to decide the fate of Ms Kanimozhi who has been accused of taking Rs200 crore bribe for Kalaignar TV from Shahid Usman Balwa’s firm DB Realty.

The CBI has accused her of conspiring with Mr Raja. She has also been charged under the Prevention of Corruption Act for taking bribe through Kalaignar TV—a channel run by the DMK—in which the bribe of the 2G scam was routed.

Speaking to reporters after the court deferred its order on bail pleas of Ms Kanimozhi and Sharad Kumar, Janata Party president Subramanian Swamy said Ms Kanimozhi is not going to escape from CBI’s clutches as more evidence against her is going to come up.

“I do not think she (Ms Kanimozhi) is going to escape as more evidence is going to come. I do not think this matter is in any way showing that she is going to be let off or that the CBI is going easy on her,” Mr Swamy said.

Ms Kanimozhi and Mr Kumar hold 20% stake each in Kalaignar TV while Karunanidhi’s wife Dayalu Ammal, who holds the remaining 60% share in the broadcasting channel, has been made a witness.

Ms Kanimozhi appeared before the court on 6th May in compliance with the summons issued after she was named in the second charge-sheet.

Pressing for Ms Kanimozhi’s bail, Mr Jethmalani had sought to blame Mr Raja and Sharad Kumar for the alleged offence saying she neither signed any documents nor handled affairs of the company.

“My misfortune is that I am Mr Karunanidhi’s daughter and an MP. I have 20% shares in Kalaignar TV. Show me one overt act of mine which relates to the offence,” she had said.

Mr Jethmalani had contended that apart from having 20% shares in Kalaignar TV, she does not have any role in running its day-to-day affairs.

CBI opposed her bail plea saying her ‘complicity” in the alleged bribe given to Kalaignar TV in the 2G scam was clear.

“The transactions (of Rs200 crore) are nothing but the transfer of bribe money to Kalaignar TV. Mr Kumar alone cannot be held responsible when a family is having the controlling shares,” special public prosecutor UU Lalit had argued.


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