“Journalism through RTI” by Shyamlal Yadav gives insights into the Right to Information Act, 2005. In it, the author (who has worked with the Indian Express) has tried to tell readers about the power of RTI by discussing some case studies in which he succeeded in exposing the corruption among ministers, bureaucrats and other officials.
Shyamlal also gives a brief overview of and facts regarding the development of RTI at the global level – some of which are worth mentioning. Sweden was the first country to introduce the concept of RTI in 1766. The idea of “Freedom of Information” was recognised by the UN after World War II. In India, the act became operational from October 12, 2005.
The author has also shared his experiences as an activist by discussing case studies comprehensively. Before that, however, he makes it clear that one should be well aware of those areas where RTI can be used as a tool.
As he was curious to know about the power of the RTI provisions, he filed around 59 RTI applications to know about the trips Union ministers made to foreign lands. It was shocking that within a span of two years after 2009, the ministers of the UPA government had made more than 700 trips abroad.
The story had a great impact on the government and brought significant changes in the system. After exposing the ministers, he filed RTI applications against civil servants, which revealed that the bureaucrats were misusing the trips that were allocated to the persons concerned.
In addition, it also revealed the fact that a significant number of the ministers did not declare their assets in public domain. Another big story which came to the light was that there were administrative officers who had were on leave for more than five years, but had not been suspended or dismissed.
Shyamlal also succeeded in revealing the corruption among the ministers responsible for cleaning rivers as well as among the NGOs that used to take grants from government and fill their own pockets.
If anyone wants to understand how the RTI Act works, this book is worth reading. It helps us to understand the nuances of the law. It is actually a tribute to the law every citizen of India should know – and the fact that they can shake the whole functioning of government through it.
Featured image used for representative purposes only.