Friday, December 17, 2010

An Idea

today, when I was just scanning the papers and fruitlessly trying to remember exactly how many dozen multi-thousand crore scams were uncovered in the past few weeks, this idea struck me. I don't know whether someone has already though of this and is already being implemented, but i thought it worth to put in down in writing before it slips my mind.

It is no secret that RTI queries is one of the important reasons for uncovering scams. However, I constantly see news where people complain that RTI awareness is still abysmally low in India ( 23% according to one report, if I remember correctly). We can easily blame the government and people for not being "aware" and let the matter at rest. But then I thought, "how many times have I used RTI?" , the answer, a paltry two times since that act was passed in 2005. You see, its very easy to blame others. Then I thought, if I have this power of asking questions and demanding information, why don't I use it more often? the answer is because, I DON'T KNOW WHAT QUESTIONS TO ASK!. As a common man, what are my needs to fight corruption? I should at least have knowledge where the corruption is going on, if I am to think of fighting it.In India, only handful activists and/or NGOs know how to use RTI as a weapon.

The idea which struck me is based upon the model of outsourcing which is currently followed by most companies. You break your job into small pieces and assign each piece to a diffeerent entity or individual. Currently, these NGOs are working as islands against corruption.The idea is to connect them, starting from a city, a state and then the country. What these NGOs would do is put up a list of RTI queries they want to make on a website. Any common man could have a look, choose any one question file an RTI application and submit the answer to the NGO which would analyze it and put a new question, based upon the answer it receives. So the intention is to make all people RTI activists, may be only one day a month..

This could also be useful for preventing the attack on RTI activists. With so many people filing queries, it would be a tough task to hunt them all down, and no party or organization can silence people on such a large scale. This could possibly create a sort of Open source RTI application website, where you can choose to plug a gap in information at your own convenience and citizens across the country would know what questions to ask, keeping a constant tab on shady areas, for example real estate allocation. This site could also encourage whistleblowers within the government to anonymously bring a matter to notice, so that people can start filing RTI applications to dig out the truth..

This is obviously a half-baked idea, with many factors unconsidered, but I though it was worth to share...