A one-day National Symposium on Right to Information (RTI) awareness was held at Dr. B. R Ambedkar Auditorium, University of Hyderabad (UoH) on 18 October, 2014. Organised by UoH Officers’ Association, the event was attended by 150 participants from Nalsar Law School, English and Foreign Languages University, Osmania University and UoH. Mohd. Sadik Hussain, Convener for this symposium and President of the UoH Officers’ Association welcomed the participants and said that the idea of this symposium is to ensure that RTI Awareness reaches everyone.
The inaugural address was delivered by Konda Vishweshwar Reddy, Honourable Member of Parliament, Chevella. Speaking on the occasion, he said that RTI is the culmination of the wish and will of the person led by social activists. Citing autobiographical accounts, he explained how RTI was an area of his interest even when he was working as an engineer. RTI brought down the so called ‘Demi-Gods’ who were placed on a pedestal until now. With RTI, one could enquire the working of the system. He averred that India was a healthy democracy because of the presence of the feedback system. In system where there is feedback, transient is bound to be there. It is only after revolving around the transient stage that one can achieve the desired goal. Talking about the hassles with the act, he said that the combined Andhra Pradesh registered the least number of online RTI applications. A lot more needs to be in this regard, he reiterated. As only 13% of literate urban people are making use of RTI, it implies that more than 50% of the urban population is still to be educated about RTI. The situation of the poor people about RTI awareness is very poor, he said.
Prof. R. P Sharma, acting Vice Chancellor, voiced his concern as a citizen of the country. Earlier when one was aggrieved, one could only go to the courts. After that Public Interest Litigation (PIL) came into being, it instilled some fear into the government. So, RTI came into being as part of this social evolution. Talking about the symposium, he said that it was heartening to organize a one-day gathering on RTI awareness.
Prof. Sudarshan, Head of the Department, Political Science, UoH, said that RTI came as a major movement and because of the movement, the act came into being. It is part of the rights based approach where transparency is of utmost importance. Emphasizing that even after nine years of its implementation, nothing concrete has been done in the field.
V V Rao, Election Watch Forum Convener and social activist, said that without RTI the country would not have witnessed the major scams like the 2G scam and Jayalalitha case. He said that the event was an occasion to deliberate upon transparency and responsibility in the RTI act. The movement is picking up in the country and the Telangana government led by Chandrasekhar Rao introduced the path breaking ‘Sakala Survey’. He averred that section IV of act needs to be implemented in a better way as it constitutes the heart of the act. Stressing the importance of the act, he said that the seminar was aimed at making the students aware about the act.
Shri Srinivas Madhav, Legal Advisor to the Information Commissioners spoke on the Role of Information Commissioners and Mr. M Mahesh from Eenadu Mundadugu spoke on the Contributions of Media in spreading RTI awareness.
At the end of the symposium all participants reiterated that they will work for making RTI as a weapon for eradicating corruption in India.
-Saumya Painuli, MA-Communication