'Scribes use RTI less'

Journalist Rishikesh Bhadur Desai lamented the measly use of Right to Information (RTI) Act by scribes, at a state-level workshop on Right to Information (RTI) and Media, here on Saturday.

Desai blamed ‘lack of patience and delay in availing information via RTI Act’ as a few reasons for journalists not deriving the benefits of the Act. “The urge of journalists to collect information is absent in the  attempt to collect accurate information using the Act,” he said.

In a critical talk, where he aimed his ire at the media for misusing the trust of people , he advised that media should take up the role of educating people, rather than bombarding them with information that they cannot be benefited from.

Speaking on the drawbacks of the Act, he pointed out that the term ‘public institution’ was not clearly defined in the law. The law is not amended as per the recent judgements about RTI Act by the Supreme Court.

Delay in disposing of RTI queries, absence of a provision to compulsorily acknowledge that a query has been made and absence of information officers in several departments are also the shortcomings for effective use of the Act, he noted.

“The ‘Information Revolution’, following the implementation of the Act along with Comptroller Auditor General of India were responsible for bringing out several scams in the country,” he said. Journalist N A M Ismail acquainted the gathering with ‘data journalism’ that thrived on data analysis after accumulating data, either by making use of the Act or other sources.

“The data thus collected can be analysed using Microsoft Excel or other statistical softwares to discover interesting trends,” he said. Though the government was keen on e-governance, large chunks of data are not available on the web. Despite the concept of ‘voluntary disclosure’ of information of government bodies, he said the format for disclosure was improper, as the data thus released was beyond the reach of the general public.

He stressed on a need to create public pressure on the administration to release all necessary data on the public domain.

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