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Path to Information - RTI Act


With the celebrating reverberations of the 4th anniversary of the Right to Information Act being heard across the country there’s much more to hype on. The RTI Act which came into effect on 12th October, 2005 allowing every citizen to question the government, politicians and government officials was deemed to be one of the most effective instruments in our democracy. For setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens so as to secure access to information under the control of public authorities and also in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority the Central and State Information Commissions were constituted.
Under the RTI Act the responsibility of a public authority and its public information officers (PlO) is not confined to furnish the information asked for; but they also have to provide necessary help to the information seeker wherever necessary. While providing information or rendering help to a person, it is important to be courteous to the information seeker and to respect his dignity. This way RTI was meant to sweep the cobwebs of corruption away from India’s opaque governance bringing transparency and accountability.
But under the so called pompous Indian officialdom’s ability to camouflage things within itself it would not be a news of great surprise that as per a study of National Right to Information Awards Secretariat a person has only a 39 percent chance of getting information sought under the highly glorified Right to Information Act (RTI). Various reasons tantamount to fabrication are often cited for not revealing the information by those who feel that their reputation could be sullied by the RTI Act.
As the Public Information Officer (PIO) and the First Appellate Authority are from the same public authority and there isn’t much difference in the echelon of the designations therefore the chances of getting the information in a prevaricated manner can’t be ruled out.
The much hyped RTI Act has no doubt some flaws within. The maximum time limit of 30 days each given to the Public Information Officer (PIO) and the First Appellate Authority leaves the information seeker with Hobson’s choice of waiting for the reply till the stipulated period expires. The concerned officers who are bound to provide the information under the RTI Act but do not do same or who reply in a prevaricated manner are rarely penalised as per the Act.
Another reason which hampers the RTI Act to unleash its effect is that around 60% of the Public Information Officers have had no training in RTI and also there is lack of awareness of RTI Act among the public.
The Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Government of India (GoI) has launched an 'Online Certificate Course on RTI' for various stakeholders on, both, the demand and supply sides of the RTI implementation regime. This Online Certificate Course on RTI is launched in association with the Centre for Good Governance, Hyderabad. This Online Certificate Course is aimed at Public Information Officers (PIOs), Assistant Public Information Officers (APIOs), Appellate Authorities, Officials assisting the above designated officers or other public officials, Citizens, Representative of Civil Society Organisations (including Media Organisations), any other person(s) who could be a direct / indirect stakeholder. The objectives of this course are to reach out to those who have not had an opportunity to participate in any training / sensitisation initiatives on RTI Act 2005, bringing greater clarity on RTI among designated implementing officials (i.e. APIOs / PIOs / FAOs), ensuring appreciation for RTI Act 2005 and its mandate among the officials designated under it and also among the citizens, facilitating timely delivery of information by PIO and having better informed citizens, civil society and other stakeholders.
The proposed outcome of this course are a sound knowledge of the provisions of the RTI Act 2005 among the people taking this course, good understanding of the roles and responsibilities of organisations / persons concerned with implementing the law and with enforcing the rights under this law, proper appreciation of rights / obligations – as applicable – for effective use of this right, reliable guidance on following the right process / procedure to implement the provisions of this Act and to benefit from this Act, good understanding of remedies available when an implementing organisation fails to comply with this Act, testing the understanding of 'Information Providers' and 'Information Seekers' using this tool for implementing this Act or exercising their right under it. A certificate for learners of this course on its successful completion is also awarded as an incentive.
The initiative taken by the Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT), Ministry of Personnel, Public Grievances and Pensions, Government of India (GoI) to create awareness of RTI Act among the nationals of India is being seen as a step of mutation to immaculate corruption.
The government must realise that eventually it will have no other option than to bring transparency in its system.

Labour Day


Most countries across the world celebrated Labour Day on May 1, also known as May Day and International Workers' Day. Where on one side the Labour Day is being predominantly celebrated across the world the other side many of us are still ignorant of the significance of this day. The day originates with the labor movements in early 19th century, when work hours were not fixed. On this day several labor unions went on strikes, demanding a standard work day of eight hours in a day. After a long struggle, eight hours in a day became a norm in many countries across the globe. Since then 1st May is celebrated as Labor Day.

But the lament thing is that the Labor laws failed to bring one of the preponderant sections of the labour community from the morass of exploitation to the state of euphoria. This section which is tagged as “Child Labour” is still the preference amongst the labour class.
Child labor is a punishable crime in India and many other countries. Indian Govt. has imposed complete ban on child labor. Article 24 of the Indian Constitution clearly states that “No Child below the age of 14 shall be employed to work in any factory or mines or employed in any hazardous employment. Recently domestic work and hospitality industries are also covered in this Act.

But still there are myriads of children who are working on roadside food stalls, factories, cleaning shops/garage, hospitals, hotels, restaurants, dhabas and as domestic work. Despite a complete ban by the Indian government on the working of children below 14 years of age as domestic servants, the abysmal thing is that still this practice is not being brought to an end.
One of the basic reasons is; such children belong to the families who are facing penury hence they prove to be worthy in generating extra income for their families. They are the first choice of the employer as it’s quite easy to exploit them. These children don’t demand high wages and are ready to perpetually work for long hours and that too without protesting as compared to a skilled worker. Moreover they don’t switch over to other jobs easily. According to a study, about 200,000 child workers are estimated to be working as domestic servants and other activities. It’s not only shocking news but it also represents an abysmal picture of the improper functioning of the Government bodies related to social welfare.

Government has launched several programmes to eradicate Child labor but these programmes render little help. The Child labor (Prohibition & Regulation) ACT 1986 is one such a step in this direction. But these laws are being enforced only on papers and have no impact in the real life; the situation is totally different at ground levels. There are many flaws in these Acts and due to these flaws the employers find a way to escape from the grasp of law. There is provision in Act that, “No child below the age of 14 shall be employed to work.” But what if they are working willingly?

When asked from the domestic employers, the employers repudiate the statement of employing a child for domestic help. They are very well aware of the fact that engaging child labor is a cognizable offense hence hesitates in accepting the fact. They add that when these children are working willingly what can they do? They haven’t forced these children to work.
But on contrary in some cases the parents force their children to work. These children are bereft for their basic right of education by their parents.

Myriads of children spend their midday sweat, their midnight oil; they tire the night in thoughts, their day in toil. What do these children want from us? They want more schoolhouses and less jails; more books and less arsenals; more learning and less vice; more leisure and less greed; more justice and less revenge; in fact, more of the opportunities to cultivate their better natures.

The problem of child labor is broadening equally in all parts of our country. It’s not limited up to urban areas; rural areas are also beneath its hold. The most exploitative form of child labor includes child prostitution. The situation of girl child laborer is far worse in such cases. The agents of these children allure the parents to send their child with them for the sake of money. And after that these children are thrust into Prostitution work. It’s in fact the most shameful act that these unfortunate children have been treated as commodities.
Begging is yet another dark face of child labor. Agent’s picks children form slum areas and force them to work as beggars.

So what is the significance of Labor Day to these deprived child workers? Nothing is the most appropriate answer to this. Government must establish a National Trust to help these poor children financially, as poverty is the root cause of child labor. We also have to cut down the role of illiteracy. Education reduces the chance of being prone to exploitation. Govt. must have to take stern actions against those who rupture these Acts. Govt. is trying to remove child labor on its part. But the help of every individual is awaited. Every citizen must have to work with Government in this direction. Only by entrusting responsibilities to Government doesn’t solve the matter. We too have to understand our onus.

No one can abolish this evil in overnight, single handed. Only the joint efforts by Government and individuals can eradicate this evil, not only from our nation but also from the world.
From each point of view, child labor is not at all justified. It is said that Children are the backbone and the future of nation. If given an opportunity, these child labors too can outshine as Doctors, Engineers and Architects and can serve the nation in a better way. Only our joint & constant effort can eliminate Child labor.

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Devendra Lingwal

Devendra Lingwal
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A result oriented writer with a flair to write for books, magazines, newspapers, newsletters, and web publications for technical, business, and general audiences. Able to conceive, design, plan, and manage all phases of editorial projects; not afraid to dig in and create any single editorial element or group of elements. That's me:

As a Citizen Journalist have won awards for 4 of my articles, ‘Time to have a re-look at blacklisted sikhs’, ‘Killing for honour kills human honour’, ‘Gandhi, youth and globalisation’ and ‘Growing pains of the youth’ as the 'best articles'.

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