Monday, September 28, 2009

Guess how CPI(M) leader Brinda Karat obtained details of what additional secretary Arvind Mayaram said in an internal meeting?

USING the tool of Right To Information (RTI) Act, CPI(M) politburo member Brinda Karat has alleged that a section of bureaucrats might delay the implementing the Centre’s announcement that real wages under the flagship National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) would now be raised to Rs 100. Most states pay less than Rs 100 per day to a labourer under the Central scheme. What could probably be the first such instance of a senior politician getting the details of an internal meeting of officers by filing an RTI application, Ms Karat obtained the minutes of a meeting called on July 10, 2009 to discuss the policy of revising the wage rates where additional secretary and financial advisor of rural development ministry Arvind Mayaram reportedly interpreted what finance minister Pranab Mukherjee said about the hike of NREGS wages during the General Budget. As was shared with a section of media by the CPI(M) about the findings of the RTI, Mr Mayaram pointed out that the finance minister in his announcement had merely said that “we are committed” to provide rural wages of Rs 100, but never said “we shall provide” it. The meeting, attended by officers from Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), finance ministry, rural development ministry and the ministry of labour, decided that the issue of raising the wages to Rs 100 would be taken up only if states approach the Centre. Ms Karat later wrote to rural development minister C P Joshi that it was an attempt by senior officers to sabotage the promised wage increase. In fact, it’s now possible to get details of file noting of bureaucrats, in addition to minutes of inter-departmental meetings, by filing an RTI. Mr Mayaram is a 1978 batch IAS from Rajasthan cadre who had earlier worked as a joint secretary in the ministry of finance and had made an immense contribution to fledging public private partnership (PPP) initiatives in India. Also Read DoPT’s online course on RTI (September 8, 2009) Oxford Scholar’s understanding of Indian RTI (August 29, 2009) 200 officers face music under RTI (July 30, 2009)


  1. Being the financial advisor, I feel, Mr Mayaram has done his duties. He needs to see whether the government has enough resources to dole out more money on NREGS which is politician's favourite. Netas will always try to find faults in bureaucracy...
    A civil servant

  2. An internal meeting, which is what the report refers to, is meant for discussions where various views are put forward. To call this "sabotage" is willful distortion and reflects a woeful lack of knowledge of how government functions. The decision, if we understand your report correctly, was taken at an inter-minis terial meeting where PMO had representatives. An FA's views are only advisory and taken into consideration by the competent decision-making authority. Hence, if Mayaram's views were accepted, they must have made sense.