Right to Information
Students have no Right to Know about RTI in Rajasthan!
The lesson in the 8th standard text book on Social Sciences of Rajasthan State Board schools was titled `Kanuno ki samajh’ (knowledge of Laws) and the lesson was about the citizens’ historic movement to bring in the Right to Information (RTI) legislation in Rajasthan. Led by Aruna Roy, the Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) in village Devdungri of Rajasthan had sowed the seeds of an era of transparency and right to information, inspiring enough, for Rajasthan’s education committee to include it in the Social Sciences curriculum.
 
The Rajasthan government, however, seems to think that this knowledge would empower citizens of tomorrow, who may demand accountability from the rulers and thus may have decided to nip this education, in the bud. RTI has been removed from the Rajasthan text books. Activists across Rajasthan are piqued with this decision and are demanding an explanation from the state government.
 
 
Aruna Roy, in a letter dated 15 May 2016, to CS Rajan, Chief Secretary of Rajasthan, writes, “In the hurry to re-write history and manipulate textbooks for political reasons, the government is hurting the sentiments of ordinary people, burying the truth and actually attempting to obliterate acknowledgement of a contribution that should be of pride to the whole state.”
 
Roy demanded that “the changes to the text book be put on hold and an open dialogue be established to determine if there is any need for amending text books, and if so, what these amendments should be.”
 
An RTI application has been filed by Kamal Tank, a citizen, on 10th May to the Primary School Department seeking copies of decision of the proposal to remove the chapter, report of the Committee, if it has been instituted for this purpose and copy of the decision of the fate of the second hand books, in case the chapter gets deleted.
 
The Suchna Evum Rojgar Ka Adhikar Abhiyan, in a press note, has stated that, this seems to be political motive and this decision has hurt the sentiments of the citizens, who are very proud of this historic campaign. The organisation protests against keeping people in the dark, before making an outrageous decision.
 
Noted RTI activist, Subhash Chandra Agrawal, states, “It is definitely a step in reverse direction. Rather Department of Personnel & Training (DoPT) should co-ordinate with Union Ministry of Human Resource Development (MoHRD) to ensure incorporating chapters on RTI in school text-books of all the states to develop student from schools to become informed citizens for not only availing their rights through RTI Act but also performing their duty to use the transparency-Act in larger national and public good.”
 
Agrawal suggested that the central government should modify RTI rules for copying charges to ensure that first 20 copied pages are part of basic RTI fees (say Rs50) but uniformly for all public-authorities and states with no provision for any more fees payable at stage of first or second appeals. “Attractive RTI stamps in denominations of Rs2, Rs10 and Rs50 can be introduced along the lines of erstwhile radio and TV license fees stamps not only to save funds on handling postal-orders (handling cost rupees Rs37.45 per postal-order) but also to popularise the Act,” he says.
 
It may be recalled that in the late 2000s, Maharashtra government had taken up the issue of including RTI lesson in the secondary school curriculum. However, after much media hype, the proposal went into oblivion.
 
Roy rightly reminds the government that, “I do not need to remind the government about the fundamental role played by ordinary people and peoples’ movements in Rajasthan, in fashioning the RTI for the whole country. This contribution is acknowledged and is part of many curricula the world over, including the Kennedy School of Governance in Harvard and in eminent universities in Europe and the Americas…We would like to know what was objectionable to warrant blacking it out.”
 
Sure, the government needs to provide a lot of explanation for removing RTI chapters from school textbooks.
 
(Vinita Deshmukh is consulting editor of Moneylife, an RTI activist and 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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COMMENTS

B. Yerram Raju

9 months ago

More essential for students up to 10th class to learn is the lessons on spirit of oneness, nationalism, loyalty and the moral fabric of India. Several states have sacrificed this content. Learning in law should commence from the 11th class. Civics used to be an important subject in the past right from 8th standard. Today civics has become a matter of history. When civics is taught with civic sense, behavioural dynamics of youth will engage in useful societal activities with a spirit of voluntarism. Reading the Acts and understanding them would become a habit thereafter. It is time the activists turn their attention on kindling the enthusiasm of the youth into productive activities for a healthy society.

GLN Prasad

9 months ago

With due respects to the great activists, it is not proper to think that because it was removed from syllabus, RTI Act interest is sacrificed. There are many laws which are more relevant to students but are not included in syllabus. It is also not proper to conclude because it is not prescribed in 8th class text book, those students who care more general awareness miss the utility of RTI Act. It makes no difference and all this is much ado about nothing. How many of us remember and recollect those lessons studied in 8th class ? In how many cases such RTI Act help students in 8th class ?

Tata Communications sells majority stake in 17 data centres for $630 mn
Tata Communications on Thursday announced a "strategic partnership" in its 17 data centres in India and Singapore with the Singapore Technologies Telemedia, to whom it is selling 74% stake in the business for around $630 million.
 
Tata Communications will continue to hold remaining 26% stake, a company statement said.
 
The joint venture include Tata Communications' 14 data centres in key cities across India and three in Singapore. The data centres currently service a highly-diversified customer base, including blue chip enterprises in Asia, e-commerce platforms and global multi-national corporations, the statement said.
 
A regulatory filing by the company stated that the deal includes sale of a 74% stake in the company's 14 data centres in India for Rs.31.1 billion ($462.66 million), and similar stake sale in its three Singapore data centres for Singapore $232.4 million ($168.37 million).
 
“This new joint venture partnership will now allow us to hone our strategic focus on advanced services within the data centre that enable digital transformation for our customers, in addition to infrastructure services.
 
"Our new partnership also gives us the opportunity to redeploy capital behind other areas of our business, to further broaden the portfolio of services we can offer to meet our customers’ current and future requirements," said Tata Communications managing director and chief executive, Vinod Kumar.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

 

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Trinamool, AIADMK retain power, BJP takes Assam, Left Kerala
West Bengal's ruling Trinamool Congress on Thursday crushed the opposition and Tamil Nadu's AIADMK proved exit polls wrong by retaining power in assembly elections, the biggest popularity test after the 2014 Lok Sabha polls. The BJP stormed to power in Assam while the Left made a comeback in Kerala amid a washout in West Bengal.
 
The Congress was the worst hit in the five-state election, losing power both in Assam, which it had ruled for 15 long years, and Kerala, where it was confident of winning its second term. The Congress-DMK alliance was, however, ahead of the ruling All India N.R. Congress in Puducherry.
 
The Bharatiya Janata Party also made history in Kerala where its veteran O. Rajagopal, 86, was elected from Nemom in Thiruvananthapuram. He will be the first ever BJP member in the Kerala assembly. 
 
Prime Minister Narendra Modi promptly congratulated West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and her Tamil Nadu counterpart J. Jayalalithaa. 
 
"Across India, people are placing their faith in (the) BJP and see it as the party that can usher in all-round and inclusive development," he tweeted.
 
Riding on the development plank, Banerjee led the Trinamool to a landslide win, leading in 214 or more than two-thirds of the seats in the 294-member Bengal assembly.
 
The Congress-Left combine, which had hoped to unseat Banerjee, was left gasping. The Congress was poised to win 44 seats while the Left, headed by the CPI-M, just 30 seats, a far cry from the times it had vice-like grip over West Bengal.
 
As Trinamool supporters celebrated wildly, Banerjee said a campaign of slander and lies led to her party's sweeping win. "People do not like such campaigns. There were all sorts of alliances against us. But people have ultimately made their choice.
 
"This is for the first time in 49 years that such a massive mandate has been given to a single party," said Banerjee, whose party hopes to win a whopping 212 seats.
 
Tamil Nadu produced a spectacular result. The AIADMK was set to grab 126 of the 234 seats, leaving the DMK-Congress combine with 102 seats, but far more than what it won in 2011. Almost all other parties were wiped out. 
 
An elated Jayalalithaa said: "There are not enough words in dictionary to adequately express my feelings of gratitude to the people of Tamil Nadu."
 
Most exit polls had predicted that the AIADMK would be unseated.
 
There were noisy celebrations outside Jayalalithaa's residence in Chennai. Holding her portraits, supporters danced to music and burst firecrackers.
 
But Chennai, battered by floods in December, dumped the AIADMK. Its candidates trailed in 12 of the 16 constituencies. Jayalalithaa, however, was set to win from Radhakrishnan Nagar in the city.
 
In a much-awaited victory, the BJP was poised to take power in Assam, with its candidates and allies leading in 85 of the 126 seats. 
 
The stunning performance buried the Congress, which is set to win only 24 seats. The All India United Democratic Front (AIUDF), which had hoped to play the kingmaker if there was a hung verdict, led in 13 constituencies.
 
A beaming Sarbananda Sonowal, who will be Assam's chief minister, said that sealing the winding India-Bangladesh border to end infiltration would be his government's major challenge.
 
Keeping alive Kerala's tradition of ousting the government in every election, the Congress-led UDF suffered a stunning rout, which its leader and Chief Minister Oommen Chandy said he had never expected.
 
The Left Democratic Front (LDF) was leading in 91 of the 140 seats and the UDF in 47. 
 
"This is a vote against the corrupt and those who failed to protect the dignity of women," said CPI-M leader and former chief minister V.S. Achuthanandan.
 
An independent was also on the winning track.
 
An apparently shattered Congress vice president Rahul Gandhi said the party will work "harder" to gain the trust of the people. "We will work harder till we win the confidence and trust of the people," he tweeted after the Congress was voted out in Assam and Kerala.
 
Disclaimer: Information, facts or opinions expressed in this news article are presented as sourced from IANS and do not reflect views of Moneylife and hence Moneylife is not responsible or liable for the same. As a source and news provider, IANS is responsible for accuracy, completeness, suitability and validity of any information in this article.

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COMMENTS

D S Ranga Rao

9 months ago

The results of the polls indicate that the people in the respective states are left with no choice but to choose either the Tweedledee or the Tweedledum because of the absence of a viable and pragmatic third alternative for which, of course, people do not have time and patience to build up but prefer to content with a few more apparent freebies that may be showered on them now and then. After all, the people get the government they deserve!

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