Saturday, October 31, 2009

If DoPT dumps another Chief CIC on us, let us shave our heads in shame!

There is a saying: “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me!” If tomorrow’s newspaper announces that former DoPT Secretary A N Tiwari – or anybody else – has been abruptly appointed as Chief Central Information Commissioner, let us shave our heads in shame.

It is wrong to arbitrarily select Central and State Information Commissioners in closed-door meetings. But such political appointments happen repeatedly, and we take it lying down. In a blatant show of patronage, Omita Paul came into CIC and went in a flash, and there wasn’t even a feeble squeak of protest! Tainted bureaucrats, darbarijournalists and total non-entities are appointed in different states every few months, and what do we do? We grumble and exchange angry emails, and… that’s it. What is wrong with us?!

Some years earlier, when the first crop of bureaucrats like Wajahat Habibullah was inducted wholesale into Information Commissions, we activists and citizens were not wide awake. Maybe we were not aware of our rights and duties vis-à-vis transparent selection of CICs and SICs. Or maybe, we were not sufficiently networked and had not formed an opinion.

But today we all know our mind. We know that there should be an open selection procedure, where people like you and I can apply. We know that the best brains from all over India – MBAs, IIT graduates, PhDs etc. -- should be invited to compete for these jobs. So why aren’t we raising a public outcry to protect our precious right?

Please, please raise an outcry NOW. Send phonograms:

Sign and circulate online petitions:

But don’t rest with doing only this. Please let us organize protests, dharnas, agitations and marches in all cities. Let us ask DoPT to immediately set up a mechanism so that henceforth, the posts of Information Commissioners are filled up through nationwide invitation of candidates from all walks of life, rigorous training of candidates and transparent common-entrance exams. Until such time, let CCIC’s post remain vacant!

If we keep letting the government take us for granted every time, then we have no one to blame for our plight except ourselves, our collective lack of guts and our collective inability to mobilize public opinion.

GRI Columnist-

Krishnaraj Rao

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