ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Struggle of RTI Activists in Gujarat

The Right to Information activists and whistle-blowers in India constantly face risk of harassment, assault, and even murder. The attacks on them are explored, with a special focus on Gujarat, by taking into consideration the nature of the cases they have filed. Who the RTI activists are and the role that non-governmental organisations have played in popularising the RTI is looked at as a tool to question the state in the distant villages of Gujarat, and also among the marginalised—women, Dalits, and Adivasis. The most common issues raised by the activists, the lack of institutional support and follow-up in protecting the activists, and other issues that are eroding the effectiveness of the RTI Act are highlighted.

The Right to Information (RTI) Act, 2005, is undoubtedly one of the most empowering pieces of legislation inherited from the previous United Progressive Alliance (UPA) government’s era. In just over a decade, it has become one of the pillars of Indian democracy. Democracy implies transparency simply because information is power, and citizens can easily be manipulated if they do not know how the state is exercising its prerogatives. Not only has the RTI Act enabled citizens to expose the misdemeanours of the government, but it has also forced the bureaucracy to be more responsive. This is probably the law’s most significant achievement, in a country where the administration has traditionally been
insulated from society.1

Today, however, the RTI Act is threatened by various amendments and malpractices and those who use it on the ground—known as RTI activists—are, increasingly, under pressure. We have already addressed the first issue elsewhere (Jaffrelot and Nissa 2016, 2017); therefore, we will concentrate, here, on the second one.

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Updated On : 18th Aug, 2018

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