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Saturday, December 28, 2013

Open Letter to Rahul Gandhi

Dear Shri Rahuljee Gandhi,

You have announced that the Congress party is serious about fighting against corruption in India. The Congress party has brought several legislations and is in favor of bringing more legislation to fight corruption. I humbly bring to your notice that bringing good legislations alone does not help in fighting against corruption. Implementation of legislation is the key to fight corruption.

The Congress party takes credit for enacting the “Right to Information Act” (RTI). However what about its implementation? In Maharashtra, RTI is in a critical condition. Since last many years, more than half the posts of information commissioners are vacant because the Chief Minister has no time. Hence pendency of second appeals has piled up to 26000. People do not want to file RTI applications because they don’t get the information.

Official reports that 95 % RTI applicants get the desired information are cooked up because the scenario at ground level is exactly the opposite i.e. 95 % applicants do not get the information. There is no transparency in appointment of information commissioners. They are chosen arbitrarily.  The decisions of some information commissioners are so bad that the citizens wonder the information commissioners are appointed to implement the RTI properly or to kill it? The scenario all over India is no different.

Take another example of Maharashtra Prevention of Delay in Discharge of official Duties Act 2005. The act came into force in 2006.  However the rules were issued in this December 2013 i.e. seven years later! More to say, clause 8 in these rules says e-mails shall be acknowledged and the e-mails shall be forwarded to the concerned office or Department or Desk if they do not pertain to the addressee. The applicant is to be intimated accordingly by e-mail. However my e-mails to the chief minister and chief secretary of Maharashtra on their official e-mail IDs bounced! Now you imagine what will be the scenario while implementing this legislation.

State Governments all over India keep issuing numerous circulars. They are the same everywhere. Never implemented. It becomes a case of “you tell me the person and I shall tell you the circular”, thus putting into action only those circulars, which benefit the officers or their cronies. Others are thrown in the waste paper basket and none feels bad or sad about it. The circulars are cleverly drafted. If some issue is to be evaded, then the choice of words is so 'creative' as to abash even a litterateur. Perhaps these circulars would pass off as pieces of excellent literary talent.

Here’s how. Consider another the case of Maharashtra. Many circulars were issued from Mantralaya of Maharashtra since 1996 to express commitment to eradicate corruption and illegalities. So far, 11 circulars have been issued for action against those involved in corruption and illegalities. These circulars are well drafted comparable with the masterpieces in literary art! But there has been no action as a result of a single circular. If you query officers about any problem, they immediately draw attention to these thirteen circulars and boast about their commitment to eradicate corruption and illegalities.

Shakuntala Bhagat the first beneficiary in Maharashtra, who received health card for Rajiv Gandhi Jeevandayee Arogya Yojana from Smt. Sonia Gandhi, appeared to be a fake. I found major discrepancies in Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) Urban Poor health scheme and Contributory Health scheme. The Health Minister ordered an inquiry in this case after I reported the matter. However, when the inquiry team went to PMC, it was sent back because the orders for the inquiry came from the Health Minister and not from the Urban Development Department. The Urban development department is with Chief Minister and till today there is no order from the CM in this regard.

In nutshell, while bringing good legislation to fight against corruption succeeds only in fooling the public for some time, proper implementation alone will reveal your real intentions.