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State PCS

Mains Marathon

  • 20 Jul 2022 GS Paper 2 Social Justice

    Day 10: “An open society in which information is shared is essential to building democracy.” Discuss the statement in the light of RTI Act.

    Approach
    • Introduce by explaining the need for an open society.
    • Mention Right to Information Act and its importance.
    • Conclude by stating the way forward.

    Answer

    A society characterized by a flexible structure, freedom of belief, and wide dissemination of information is called an open society. An open society allows the individual to change his role and to benefit from corresponding changes in status. An open society permits different social groups to vie for the same resources, so their relations are competitive. In an open society the rank that the individual attains for himself is more important than the ranking of his social group. In India, the concept of open society is promoted by Right to Information Act. The right to information gained power when Universal Declaration of Human Rights was adopted in 1948 providing everyone the right to seek, receive, information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.

    The basic object of the Right to Information Act is to empower the citizens, promote transparency and accountability in the working of the Government, contain corruption, and make our democracy work for the people in the real sense. It goes without saying that an informed citizen is better equipped to keep necessary vigil on the instruments of governance and make the government more accountable to the governed. The Act is a big step towards making the citizens informed about the activities of the Government.

    Genesis of RTI law started in 1986, through judgement of Supreme Court in Mr. Kulwal v/s Jaipur Municipal Corporation case, in which it directed that freedom of speech and expression provided under Article 19 of the Constitution clearly implies Right to Information, as without information the freedom of speech and expression cannot be fully used by the citizens.

    Importance of Right to information in strengthening democracy

    • Right to information has been seen as the key to strengthening participatory democracy and ushering in people centred governance.
    • Access to information can empower the poor and the weaker sections of society to demand and get information about public policies and actions, thereby leading to their welfare.
    • It showed an early promise by exposing wrongdoings at high places, such as in the organisation of the Commonwealth Games, and the allocation of 2G spectrum and coal blocks.
    • Right to information opens up government’s records to public scrutiny, thereby arming citizens with a vital tool to inform them about what the government does and how effectively, thus making the government more accountable.
    • Improves decision making by public authority by removing unnecessary secrecy.

    In an open society, RTI Act helps to achieve social justice, transparency and to make accountable government. A lot more needs to be done to usher in accountability in governance, including protection of whistleblowers, decentralization of power and fusion of authority with accountability at all levels. This law provides us a priceless opportunity to redesign the processes of governance, particularly at the grass roots level where the citizens’ interface is maximum.

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