We talk about transparency in everything, including governance and politics. What do we mean by this? What is transparency? Is it honesty? Is it divulging all matters to the public? Is it in the public interest?
For example when the RTI was implemented a section of the people also wanted, that if given some particular marks for an examination, they had a right to see the answer scripts, even in public examinations controlled by the government. But this was not strictly allowed on the premise that there is provision for re-checking, re-evaluation in some examinations. I think a student has to know why he got a certain grade, and what went wrong, otherwise the entire issue of teaching and learning, which unfortunately culminates in a three hour examination will be defeated. Anyway, that is transparency for you, we are left at the whims and mercies of the examiners and their subjectivity.
But, what about transparency in governance. We must know for example the people who have money stashed away in foreign banks. That is transparency for you!
We must know the exact legacy of the Coalgate scandal, the anomalies there, and the details of the CAG report, and what action plan the government is contemplating on this. We must know the situation in the Maoist belt, what methods the Government is taking or has taken to address the problem. Just calling them criminals and disgruntled elements will not do. Also, the exact status and progress of the Naga and Assam peace talks.
A democracy must have self defined matters on transparency, otherwise democracy will be on paper. The people of the country should know, the roads taking us to the pathways of violence and or, peace. Then only transparency and democracy will work at tandem. Also, we must be told about the the RTE, what has been done, how many children have been enrolled till date, is there a cohesion between the state and central governments - the SSA for example, what benefits have accrued to each state. Simply passing legislation, and recording them in minutes of meetings is self defeating.
Further there must be accord on these issues between the Centre and the State. There must be clear directives to state governments on these and larger issues affecting the society. Education is, and must be a priority.
Transparency is the corner stone of democracy so that the recalcitrant watch dogs are also satisfied, otherwise their reluctance can cause problems to a monolithic structure of a democratic set up. That is why you have so many activists, and some of them have their own axe to grind. Transparency is all about a clean governance. We must insist on it, as we insist on all our rights.
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Ananya S Guha
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