India tries but fails to curb corruption, say activists

RTI has played a major role in exposing BMC Authorities’ mischief of clandestinely deviating the Road Line (RL), to usurp Church Land belonging to St. Anthony Church, Malwani; Though SOUL – SAVE OUR LAND succeeded in its efforts, it has been a difficult task with authorities reluctant in parting with the information – GREG

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Despite special laws, officials are unwilling to probe graft complaints.

New Delhi: 

Despite being introduced nine years ago, India’s Right to Information Act has not been able to curb rampant corruption in the country, political activists say.

“Though we have got the right to question government functionaries, the act does not do more than that,” Nutan Thakur, an activist from Uttar Pradesh in northern India, told ucanews.com on Thursday.

According to Transparency International, an NGO that monitors corporate and political corruption, graft is on the rise in India and other South Asia countries and has been an obstacle to development. Among the findings in its Fighting Corruption in South Asia report released on Wednesday, were that South Asian governments did not effectively respond to citizens’ requests for information and that there was little legal protection for whistleblowers in the region.

Thakur said problems persist once a petitioner seeks to question government officials concerning any irregularities found in government documents.

“Your complaint is not entertained properly and you are accused of having malicious intentions towards the person you have filed the complaint of corruption against,” she said.

“Officials often tell me that this is not my concern as I am not related to the issue at all,” she said.

Thakur said government workers are uncomfortable answering to the public. Before the Right to Information Act was passed, they answered only to their superiors.

“Now if the public questions them, they cannot take it in their stride. They give the information but are mostly reluctant to follow any complaint or initiate an inquiry,” she said.

The reluctance to divulge information by government departments and initiate inquiries into corruption often poses a threat to the life of Indian political activists. An activist in Uttar Pradesh was found dead in early May under mysterious circumstances.

Chandra Mohan was found dead in his car in Noida in Uttar Pradesh. His family alleged that he was murdered after he received several threatening calls from organized crime operatives whom he exposed through the Right to Information Act.

“The corrupt are a united force. They have friends in every place. But activists have no friends. Even the media is not interested in supporting us,” Gopalakrishnan Velu, a political activist in Chennai in Tamil Nadu, told ucanews.com.

Velu said he has has filed numerous Right to Information Act applications that exposed the corrupt practices of government officials and judges in Tamil Nadu.

Velu, an engineer by trade, was threatened and eventually fired from his job with a private company.

“I suffered for my spirit of activism. But I’m not lost. I filed a series of applications to expose corruption in the judiciary and government. They stalled all my attempts and put me in most difficult position. But I could expose many,” Velu said.

Similarly, K M Abraham, former director of the Securities and Exchange Board of India, was investigated by a top private investigating agency for exposing corruption.

Abraham was known for dealing with violators with stern hands and never allowing political interference while discharging his duties. As a reward, the Indian government released him from his position as head of the regulatory agency and opened a corruption probe against him, said Sebastian Paul, a political activist who filed hundreds of information act petitions on behalf of Abraham.

“His story tells the sad fate of whistleblowers and honest officials in governments,” Paul told ucanews.com.

Source: ucanews.com

 

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