One of the achievements of the IAC (India Against Corruption) was the passage of the RTI (Right to Information) Bill by the parliament in 2009. Central Government then gave assurance to Parliament that the RTI Act will not be amended without public consultation. Within five years, the center is introducing a bill to amend act to protect the interests of Political parties. “There has been no debate, inside or outside the parliament. Nobody even knows the exact wordings of the amendment. We feel that it should be opposed,” says Maja Daruwala of Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative (CHRI). Several NGOs and RTI activists are planning protests in Mumbai.
Thousands of lawyers with the Volunteer for a Better India (VBI) movement have started applying for RTI in parliamentary constituencies with a view to expose candidates with criminal records. Indian democracy is at a cross road with a third of its elected officials holding criminal records and corrupt money being deployed into buying vote banks. Already filed RTIs have started pulling out specifics about corruption. The recent order of the Central Information Commissioner (CIC) sided with the RTIs and stipulated that political parties are required to respond to them as well. Central government is silently set to check this trend.
The first voice against center’s move arose in the US according to Shailesh Gandhi, the former Central Information Commissioner. RTI activists in India followed suit and have started calling the opposition MPs as well. This shows the importance of NRI vigilance and patriotism in maintaining the democratic ethos in India today. Thousands of youth came out against corruption in India and supported the now defunct IAC (India Against Corruption) movement. Their numbers have grown and are now working as volunteers with the VBI movement. NRIs have a big role in channeling this energy positively, just as the single voice from the US started the opposition to center’s push to amend the RTI act.