Sunday, 2 December 2012

Wanted: One more RTI

Government of India, Act 1: THE RIGHT OF CHILDREN TO FREE AND COMPULSORY EDUCATION ACT, 2009
Chapter II, Section 3 (i) states: "Every child of the age of six to fourteen years shall have a right to free and compulsory education in a neighbourhood school till completion of elementary education."
Chakkarpur Village is in the heart of Gurgaon, surrounded by
malls, five-star hotels, and gated condominiums
Reality Check: In the urban village of Chakkarpur, embedded in the heart of the sub-metropolis of Gurgaon, and home to thousands of migrants from Bengal and Bihar, at least 1000 children of school-going age do not attend school. This, despite the existence of a large government school in Chakkarpur. Since most of these children are from Bengal, they are unable to adjust to the school environment, are forced to drop out, and the authority's apathy ensures they stay away.




Government of India, Act 2: THE NATIONAL RURAL EMPLOYMENT GUARANTEE ACT, 2005 (NREGA)

Chapter II, Section 3 (1) states: "Save as otherwise provided, the State Government shall, in such rural area in the State as may be notified by the Central Government, provide to every household whose adult members volunteer to do unskilled manual work not less than one hundred days of such work in a financial year in accordance with the Scheme made under this Act."
Reality Check: Hundreds of able-bodied workers from the districts of Nagaur, Jalor, and Pali in Rajasthan are forced to migrate to a place called Balotra in the Jodhpur district, seeking employment in the textile industry in the region. The region has several units for mercerization of cotton, a process of treatment of cotton fabric that provides luster and strength to the fabric. As part of this process, workers are required to stand waist-deep in tank-full of a concentrated caustic soda solution, with completely inadequate protective gear, leading to severe and long-lasting damage to their health, particularly their skin. These workers are aware of NREGA, aware of how the funds sanctioned under the scheme are usurped by the Sarpanch and his henchmen in the village.

There stories from the ground are just two examples of the inadequacy of the Government to implement well-intended ideas...even a cursory visit to the other side of India would tell you how miserable this inadequacy is, across the board. Who really ends up benefiting from these schemes is anybody's guess.

The just-announced scheme related to direct cash transfers to rural households - ambitiously targeting to cover the entire country by end-2013 - will end up being one more instance of a good scheme going nowhere. Whoever said that the "Road to Hell is paved with Good Intentions" must have known India very well!

What the country - the 1,000,000,000-plus aam aadmis of India - really needs today is a new RTI: the RIGHT TO IMPLEMENTATION. The Absolute Right that Ensures that whatever the Government Promises to its Citizens, Gets Delivered. Come What May.