Monday, November 25, 2013

Folk Lyrics to Spread Information: Centre’s guideline enlists innovative RTI disclosure practices

Road Ahead: Proactive Disclosure at local level
THE use of folk lyrics as a medium of disseminating information and allowing Gram Sabha proceedings to be reported in local newspapers are some of the innovative practices enlisted in the latest Central government Guideline for states to facilitate proactive disclosure at district and Panchayat levels. DoPT secretary SK Sarkar in a letter dated November 21, 2013 to all…
state chief secretaries, enclosed the Guideline with templates on how to disclose information on public distribution systems, Panchayats, MGNERGA, and primary and secondary schools etc.
The Guideline, however, has not mentioned the names of the states where those best practices were spotted. For example, it talks about a “Y” state. “In a particular district in ‘Y’ state, during the RTI campaign for pro-active disclosure, it was observed that the use of multimedia vehicle for dissemination of information was widely accepted. The pamphlets and guidelines of various schemes, including forms, were disseminated by “RTI on Wheels” - a multimedia vehicle. Films and case studies of the use of information for achieving transparency in governance were screened,” the Guideline says.
In another state, it has been a regular practice that details of the proceedings of Gram Sabhas are reported in local newspapers. There are instances where benefits of schemes, budgets expenditure, MGNREGA works, payments etc. in the Gram Sabha are all read out by local functionaries.
Then, there was an instance where even before the RTI Act was in place, folk lyrics as a medium of disseminating information used in a particular district. “In her/(his) Gram Sabha, she/(he) talks about various schemes by connecting them to incidents in the village and sings a folk song highlighting the specific characteristics of a scheme. Her/(his) Gram Sabhas are frequented by large numbers of residents on a regular basis,” the Guideline says.
On proactive disclosure under RTI, the Guideline adds that considerable information at the Panchayat level can be “painted on walls”. But all information painted on walls should also be kept ready for perusal in a “RTI Proactive Disclosure File”. “This file should also contain details of all the money received and all the guidelines which are sent to Panchayats by various government authorities for implementation of schemes,” the Guideline adds.

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