World of India!: Right to Information? Yes, but.... e

World of India!

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Right to Information? Yes, but....

Express India reports that the Home Ministry has refused to part with documents pertaining to Netaji Subashchandra Bose's disappearance, under the Right to Information act, because "The matter happened more than 20 years from the date of request..."

Attempts by the Government to muzzle the power of the RTI are nothing new. Its rather disappointing that a usually sensible and progressive P.M, like Manmohan Singh, has become a willing participant in this attempt. One way in which the Government tried to do this was to suppress the publication of the notings made by bureaucrats,ministers and other officials on files. The notings often are crucial to understand the nub of the problem and therefore suppressing the publication of this information is akin to rendering the entire act a toothless tiger. It was under relentless pressure from social activists and NGO's that the Government has had to finally buckle down.

And now this! If anything, the Home Ministry needs to publish the documents concerning Netaji immediately because they are so old! In many countries round the world there is a deadline, after which all confidential documents automatically become available to the public at large. The U.S.A for instance has this limit set at 25 yrs. On Dec 31st 2006, for instance, millions of pages of documents including those belonging to the FBI will be declassified. This requirement to automatically declassify documents after 25 yrs was created by Clinton but has been implemented by Bush, much to the surprise of many watchers. The New York Times writes "Gearing up to review aging records to meet the deadline, agencies have declassified more than one billion pages, shedding light on the Cuban missile crisis, the Vietnam War and the network of Soviet agents in the American government.Gearing up to revieyw aging records to meet the deadline, agencies have declassified more than one billion pages, shedding light on the Cuban missile crisis, the Vietnam War and the network of Soviet agents in the American government."

Ms. Nelson , a historian at American University is quoted in this report as saying- " “Americans need to know this history, and the history is in those document.”

Our sarkari babus obviously don't believe that we Indians need to know of our history. After all, who knows what skeletons might come tumbling out of the closet!

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