Skip to main content

80 RTI activists killed since 2014, yet Modi govt 'refuses' to implement whistleblowers Act

By Our Representative
Ever since Prime Minister Narendra Modi took over power in 2014 at the Centre, more than 80 have been killed “in their quest for information and accountability” through the Right to Information (RTI) Act, a public hearing in Delhi has been told. Senior politicians from opposition parties, including Congress and Left, heard people express their anguish over the manner in which the government was treating the RTI Act, even as refusing to operationalise the Whistleblower Protection Act, passed in 2014.
Participated by over 200 people from across Delhi, the Jan Manch was organized by the National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information (NCPRI) in collaboration with the National Alliance of Peoples Movements (NAPM), the National Federation of Indian Women (NFIW), the Right to Food Campaign, he Common Cause and the Satark Nagrik Sangathan (SNS).
Rajeev Gowda of the Congress said that when the then Finance Minister Arun Jaitley announced the electoral bond scheme, he claimed that it would usher in transparency in political funding. He added, revelations through the RTI Act have now shown how the electoral bonds scheme was brought in despite the objections raised by the Election Commission of India, RBI, Law Ministry.
He said, while BJP claimed that donors would remain anonymous, information accessed by RTI activists had shown that the State Bank of India (SBI) knows the details of purchasers and as each bond has a unique serial number, the government can effectively get details about who purchased the bonds and track them.
This, he said, means that only the funding being given to the ruling party is anonymous, as the opposition and people don’t know the source of funds and therefore its not surprising that the BJP has been the biggest beneficiary of the scheme, cornering over 90% of the known donations. He added, the stand of the Congress was that the electoral bonds scheme should be scrapped and the names of all donors should be in the public domain.
Underlining the importance of the RTI Act, he said, it was only due to dogged RTI queries that the details of electoral bonds were emerging, promising, the Congress will oppose the regressive RTI rules made by the BJP following the amendments to the law and will take up the issue in the appropriate Parliamentary forum.
CPI(M) general secretary Sitaram Yechury said, following the petition he has filed in the Supreme Court seeking scrapping of the “anti-democratic” Electoral Bonds Scheme, there should be a collective fight both within and outside Parliament. He added, the BJP government was selling all the resources of the country, and schemes like electoral bonds encouraged crony capitalism.
Congress wants electoral bonds scheme should be scrapped and the names of all donors should be in the public domain
CPI general secretary D Raja said that the BJP government is “not interested” in issues impacting common people or in strengthening their rights and was only focussed on dividing the country on the basis of who is and who isn’t a citizen.
He said that schemes like the Electoral Bonds were completely skewing the political scenario and that the challenge ahead is to fight money power in politics. He added, free and fair elections cannot be ensured without ensuring a level playing field between parties in terms of resources and funding.
Criticising the government for amending the RTI Act in order to control the functioning of information commissions, Raja said that the government is against transparency as it does not want people to question the government.
Speaking at the public hearing, Urmila, a resident of Kusumpur Pahadi basti pointed out how the RTI Act has empowered people, especially women, to demand accountability of the government and because people are asking tough questions of the government in terms of delivering on promises of job creation, poverty alleviation, the government was stifling the RTI Act.
Mithudas, a resident of Malviya Nagar, said that when the government wanted each person to account for their income and switch to digital payments, why were political parties not disclosing details of who was funding them. She said that parties work for those who fund them and, therefore, the list of donors must be known.
People spoke about how the government put them through hardships during demonetisation in the name of fighting corruption while pushing electoral bonds which is an instrument for money laundering.
Anjali Bhardwaj and Venkatesh Nayak of NCPRI shared details of the information obtained under the RTI Act regarding the electoral bonds scheme which showed how the government had misled Parliament and the Reserva Bank of India (RBI). Nikhil Dey raised concerns that the Data Protection Bill, which was introduced in Parliament on December 11, must not dilute the RTI Act.
Human rights activist Harsh Mander and Dr Ghulam Rasool Shaikh from the Jammu & Kashmir RTI movement were among those who spoke at the Jan Manch.

Comments

TRENDING

Buddhist shrines were 'massively destroyed' by Brahmanical rulers: Historian DN Jha

Nalanda mahavihara By Our Representative Prominent historian DN Jha, an expert in India's ancient and medieval past, in his new book , "Against the Grain: Notes on Identity, Intolerance and History", in a sharp critique of "Hindutva ideologues", who look at the ancient period of Indian history as "a golden age marked by social harmony, devoid of any religious violence", has said, "Demolition and desecration of rival religious establishments, and the appropriation of their idols, was not uncommon in India before the advent of Islam".

Examples of support to Hindu temples, scriptures, saints by 'Muslim' rulers galore

Siya Ram coin issued by Akbar By Bharat Dogra* At a time when the country as well as the world are passing through very difficult times leading to more urgent need for strengthening national unity for meeting several big challenges ahead, unfortunately disputes relating to religious places have been allowed to raise their ugly head once again. It is well-realized by now by many people that it is not historical facts but narrow considerations of political gain and spreading of fanatic ideas of intolerance which are behind such mischief, but due to the increasing threat of mob violence and patronage available at higher levels to groups spreading intolerance many people are reluctant to openly and fearlessly express their views. Hence there is urgent need for broad-based peace committees with wider social support to spread the message of communal harmony and to appeal against the dangers of spreading false messages regarding places of worship which can ultimate

Gyanvapi case: Use of 'illegal' lawfare to keep the communal pot simmering

By Venkatesh Narayanan, Bobby Ramakant, Manoj Sarang* With a steady drumbeat of bad news for the lives of ordinary citizens --  inflation at a multi-year high , rupee at an all-time low , negative job creation and when all forward indicators as seen by industry leaders point to recessionary clouds on the horizon , what’s a serially-incompetent government to do?  Dust out their time-tested-citizen-distraction playbook. The Gyanvapi-Masjid case is all of this -- as a weapon of mass distraction. This zeitgeist of our times is best captured by a recent opinion piece : "The idea is to keep the pot on a perpetual boil, simmering at the top, whirling feverishly beneath. A restless society forever living precariously on the precipice arouses distrst, uneasiness, fear and discomfort, That is a toxic panoply for manufacturing rage, which can then be effortlessly mobilized at short notice. BJP is creating an eco-system of real-time instant delivery of hate-mongers. That is how we are sudde

Targeting mosques, churches: 'Roadmap' for 2025, RSS' centenary year?

416 years old Our Lady of Health Church, Sancoale, Goa  By Fr Cedric Prakash SJ*  Fascists use manipulative strategies aimed at whipping up sympathy and support from the majority community, to which they normally ‘belong’. They do so in a variety of insidious and subtle ways. In the past few months, they have gone overboard in their efforts to denigrate and demonize minorities in India, particularly Muslims and Christians. They have spewed hate and divisiveness through their venomous speeches; incited people to violence and have effectively used officialdom to further their vested interests. The results are there for all to see: greater polarisation of the majority community in a country which prided itself for its pluralism and diversity. Their meticulously planned agenda is in order to gain absolute power of the country in the 2024 national elections. More so it is also a roadmap towards 2025 when the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS) will complete one hundred years of its existence.

Upholding labour rights, Nehruvian scientific temper, Rajni Patel opposed Emergency

By Harsh Thakor*  Rajni Patel, who died 40 years ago, whatever his flaws, had one great quality: his human touch to offer selfless service and ability to galvanise or influence human beings from all walks of life. Few people would ever go out of the way to help someone or serve as selflessly without aim of personal gain. Rajni championed Nehruvian secular ideas and scientific temper. As a master in public relations he revealed utmost humility. As a barrister, he never appeared against the trade unions or workers. A Fabien Socialist he opposed liberal capitalism and radical socialism. Unlike most lawyers, he did not succumb to the lure of amassing wealth. Rajni was born in Sirsa, in Gujarat, on the very day Gandhi set foot on Indian soil, on 9th January, 1915. He gained his baptism through one of Gandhi's speeches calling for the boycott of foreign goods, which was the virtual turning point of his life. Rajni toed Gandhi to organise boycott of foreign goods. Rajni was able to cros

This varsity succumbed to extra-academic mobocracy, 'ignored' Hindutva archives

By Shamsul Islam* Open letter to Sharda University vice-chancellor Sub: Discarding a Question on Linkages of Hindutva with Nazism/Fascism is blatant Academic Dishonesty! Dear Professor Sibaram Khara Saheb, Namaskaar! According to your esteemed University’s portal: “The name of University, 'Sharda' is synonymous to 'Goddess of knowledge and learning-Saraswati'. She is identified with 'veena', an Indian musical instrument and the ‘lotus’, where she resides. The lotus in our logo symbolizes the seat of learning that the University is created for.  "Variety of colours signify the variety of disciplines the university offers and the overlap between petals creating new colours demonstrate the ethos of collaboration between students and teachers of different programme, nationality, creed and colour working towards creating new knowledge…the University's cherished mission to provide education beyond boundaries and to facilitate the students and faculty to achie

Whither climate goal? Increasing reliance on coal 'likely to worsen' India's power crisis

By Shankar Sharma*  Recent news articles, How to shock-proof India’s power sector and Power minister points finger at states for worsening electricity crisis , have highlighted a few current problems for the ongoing power sector issues as in April 2022. However, there is a lot more to it than a few temporary solutions as indicated in the articles. It should also be emphasised that it is techno-economically impossible to completely shock-proof a highly complex and geographically wide-spread vast power network, such as the one in India, which is only getting more and more complex with the passage of each year due to some irrational policies/ practices in the sector. A business-as-usual (BAU) scenario, wherein more and more of conventional technology power plants, including coal power plants, will be added in the near future, will also necessitate the increased complexity in the integrated national grid, and as a result the instances of power shortage/ disruptions can only escalate for

Swami Vivekananda's views on caste and sexuality were 'painfully' regressive

By Bhaskar Sur* Swami Vivekananda now belongs more to the modern Hindu mythology than reality. It makes a daunting job to discover the real human being who knew unemployment, humiliation of losing a teaching job for 'incompetence', longed in vain for the bliss of a happy conjugal life only to suffer the consequent frustration.

A former Modi ally, Prashant Kishor wanted to enter Congress 'on contract, as trader'

By Anand Sahay*  The Congress Party and the election campaigns specialist Prashant Kishor, whose company has done strategic communications for a host of political parties across ideology, should both count themselves lucky that they could not reach an agreement for Kishor to join the party. News reports suggest that the Congress rejected Kishor’s terms. This is not wholly unexpected. People join a party because they are attracted to it, and wish to serve it in any capacity that the party may see fit. But that isn’t Kishor at all. He gave the impression of entering into a contract, as a trader might. If news reports are to be believed, he sought freedom to report directly to party chief Sonia Gandhi, and sought untrammeled control over party communications. When such ideas did not find favour, the consultant withdrew. It is clear he has no particular love for the Congress, and its ideas, ideology and politics. In contrast, look at the key personae in G-23. They

Haven't done a good deed, inner soul is cursing me as sinner: Aurangzeb's last 'will'

Counterview Desk The Tomb of Aurangzeb, the last of the strong Mughal emperors, located in Khuldabad, Aurangabad district, Maharashtra, has this epitaph inscribed on it: "Az tila o nuqreh gar saazand gumbad aghniyaa! Bar mazaar e maa ghareebaan gumbad e gardun bas ast" (the rich may well construct domes of gold and silver on their graves. For the poor folks like me, the sky is enough to shelter my grave).