Friday, 20 September 2013

Wall Paintings of India

- By Vijaya Lakshmi (Student of

Painting is one of the most delicate forms of art giving expression to human thoughts and feelings through the media of line and color.
Below are some of the eminent mural paintings of Ancient and Medieval India.

EraName of the SiteCharacteristics
Ancient India
  • Ajanta Caves, Maharashtra
  • Bagh caves, Madhya Pradesh
  • Badami caves, Karnataka
  • Sittannavasal, Tamil Nadu
  • Jatakas, collection of stories, recording the previous births of the Lord Buddha.
  • Principal characters in heroic proportions.
  • Stories illustrated are continuous and elaborate.
  • Religious painting of Brahma, Shiva, etc.,
  • Ceiling Decoration with flora and fauna.
Medieval India Ellora Caves , Maharashtra
  • Epitome of Indian rock-cut architecture
  • Hindu, Buddhist and Jain temples
  • Rectangular panels with thick borders.
  • Figures represent twist of the head, painted angular bents of the arms, the concave curve of the close limbs,the sharp projected nose and the long drawn open eyes
  • Fresco- secco method of painting
Medieval India Rajarajeshwara temple, Tanjore, Tamil Nadu
  • Figures are full of movement and throbbing with vitality (Dancers)
  • Portray Shiva in action, destroying demonic forts, dancing etc.
  • Done in a fresco method over the surface of the rock.
Late Medieval painting Veerabhadra Temple, Andhra Pradesh
  • Paintings are pressed within broad friezes and illustrate Shivaite and secular themes
  • Two-dimensional painting
  • Fresco-secco method of painting

Common Characteristics
  • Most of the colors’ were locally available.
  • Brushes were made up from the hair of animals, such as goat, camel, mongoose, etc.
  • The principal colors’ in use were red ochre, vivid red (vermilion), yellow ochre, indigo blue, lapis lazuli, lamp black (Kajjal), chalk white, terraverte and green.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Women's Reservation, An Illusion!

To all the people who were hopeful that we will have a constitutional provision to improve the position of women in our democracy, things are looking a bit gloomy for now. When the Women's reservation bill was passed in the Rajya Sabha amid trans-party cooperation, Sonia Gandhi, Sushma Swaraj and Brinda Karat coming together to get justice for womanhood, there was light at the end of the tunnel.Women have never had such dominating presence in the echelons of power with a President, Opposition Leader, the Guiding force behind the ruling party and more from the weaker sex. With maverick politicians in the regional parties out in the open protesting the bill in its original form and recommending watering down amendments, the bill looks a distant dream.

The history of women's reservation dates back to the Panchayati Raj Act of 1992 which provides for 33% reservation in local self-governance. Then the Deva Gowda Govt in 1996 proposed women’s reservation in a similar form, which was followed by another ambitious attempt by IK Gujaral which was all stalled at its birth. The women’s reservation bill proposes to provide reservation of 33 % in the parliament, state legislature and local bodies. The reserved seats for women will be rotated in every two terms and the SC/ST reservation will mandate 33 % reservation for women within its fold. The proposal is only for a pilot period of 15 years.

Why do we need women’s reservation? The arguments for and against are various but one aspect that can be quiet compelling is our relative performance with regard to gender empowerment. You will be surprised to hear that women in India is far behind their equals in Pakistan and Bangladesh and is ahead of only countries like Yemen and Saudi Arabia. We consider ourselves modern when the representation of women in the parliament, in higher education, in the corporate sector is abysmal. The number of women who die during pregnancy and girls who do not complete schooling is alarming.

So is reservation a panacea to all the ills that the women in the country is suffering from, not likely but it could be a good start. Better representation will pave way for more sensible law making, more empowerment and more development to the country. But there are inherent flaws in the current proposal which is ambiguous in terms of reservation for women from backward classes; it will lead to proxy candidates in the form of politician’s kith and kin contesting. The proposal to rotate seats after two terms will not let to develop a relationship between the candidate and the constituency. The fate of the pilot period could be similar to the 10 year threshold kept for SC/ST reservation which continues even today.

Another alternative to the cumbersome Women’s reservation bill is to bring changes in the people representation act making it compulsory of political parties to yield 33% percentage of its candidate, women to maintain the party’s registration. There has to be some amendments to the structure of the houses as the current strength of 545 members in the parliament is based on the 1971 population which is actually half of the current population. More representation will let us yield more people which will to certain extend thwart the opposition put forward by the dissidents. The opposition is mainly arising out of fear of losing sitting seats and lack of future opportunities to contest.

Let’s further look at the case of Pakistan, they have reserved 60 seats for women in the 360-member National Assembly and 17 in the 100-member Senate with a view to empower women. According to a report, 42 percent of private member bills, 27 percent of questions and 24 percent of resolutions in parliament came from women parliamentarians. If this can happen in the socially medieval (as perceived by most of us) so what’s stopping us from taking the plunge.

At least like what someone said “If all the countries in the world were ruled by women, we wouldn't have any war, just a bunch of countries who don't speak to each other” It might lead to an end of the boisterous cacophony and all the drama prevalent in our parliament.

Ps. The post was written in June 2011, and some of the examples used in context are based on that time frame.

Monday, 5 August 2013

How 11 Indians Pulled off The Impossible! A Book Review

Book: Making Breakthrough Innovations Happen
Author: Porus Munshi
Genre: Business/Innovation/Entrepreneurship

This is another interesting book that you may find compelling to read. A collection of case studies, well analysed and presented.

Few of the Case studies which really caught my fancy are
  • Transformation of Surat from the filthiest city into the second cleanest town within two years, reducing the number of malaria deaths from 20,000 to 0 in just twenty months, a case of miracle urban transformation.
  • Trichy Police implementing community policing and reducing crime rates by an astounding 60% and managing a city of 3 million people with 260 constables, a case study on how the police can manage community with friendliness rather than force.
  • How titan beat the Swiss in their own field of expertise by developing the thinnest watch Titan Edge.
    The rest are about ITC, CavinKare Su-kam etc. The book has good flow to it bringing out interesting details and how the same can be used by us in ordinary situation. This is a must read for The few us who still believe we can change, we can make things happen and that nothing is impossible as such.
The book is very inspiring and can give you some good case studies to substantiate your arguments.

Friday, 2 August 2013

Contemporary Relevance of Gandhian Doctrines

- By Abraham Cyril

“Generations to come, it may well be, scarce believe that such a man as this one ever in flesh and blood walked upon this Earth.” - Albert Einstein on Gandhi

During the tumultuous period of the first half of the previous century, where power mainly relied on violence and its sustenance, Gandhiji had an old fashioned respect for his own calling. He knew what it was he was doing. Another Gandhijayanti has passed with not much of attention being given, but the ever increasing relevance of Mahatma and his doctrines both inside and outside the country has forced the author to go for a re-visit and contemporary analysis of the Gandhian doctrines. Gandhi never believed in the establishment of any "ism" in his name. Yet, Gandhian core values of what Kripalani has termed the "Gandhian Way" stands out as a distinct ideology of non-violence and peace. Lech Walesa, leader of the Solidarity movement and later President of Poland, observed during his visit to New Delhi that when we fought with violence we failed, but when we fought with non-violence we succeeded.

The unfettered commitment towards the religious scriptures had paved way for Gandhiji in developing his universal concepts of Satyagraha and non-violence. Gandhiji was much prophetical in declaring that unity in diversity is not a theoretical proposition but a practical reality. Respect for each nation; be it USA or Libya, China or Pakistan, respect for each language; displayed by the diversities within the country, respect for each political system - all these are the lessons of Indian democracy. Cooperation and coexistence are what the world needs today. He suggested that all human activities in the administrative domain should be need-centric and not greed-centric. This has direct link to Sustainable development - the need of the hour. Gandhi laid out an important foundational principle in defining the recently much talked about concept of Governance, where he emphasized on the sovereignty of the people over the sovereignty of the state by establishing Swaraj; which was totally people centric and participation centric. The existing governance setup is so complex that a common man will always require a support system just to approach the government or administration. In his framework of governance, the village will be managed by a panchayat which will be a living political entity. These panchayats will be voluntarily associated by an ever widening circle of such village republics. It is not an apex sustained by the bottom, but an oceanic circle where the centre will be the individual always ready to perish for the circle of villages and so on. In this dynamic process, the individual must move from consuming to conserving, spending to saving and depleting resources to sustaining them.

In the world scenario as mentioned Gandhism or the modern Gandhigiri can be the real problem solver. Conflicts between the nations can be resolved by Gandhian methods; new institutional arrangements or by altering behaviour of the concerned states, initiation of Confidence Building Measures, use of Track-II diplomacy, etc which can open new vistas for durable peace. Trusteeship system envisaged by Gandhiji wherein the rich could contribute for the wellbeing of the deprived sections of humanity. This can also mitigate the demand of a New International Economic Order. Further, Gandhism believes in unilateral disarmament. Change in the perception of terrorism, i.e, seeing it as a socio-psychological problem and changing the attributional errors of the fundamentalist and transforming such individuals is inevitable.

Having discussed the international relevance it will be highly unfair if we ignore the recent upsurge of Gandhian values and methodology in India during the movement, India against corruption or better known as Anna Hazare movement. If we apply Gandhian conception of democracy and freedom, all criticisms against Anna's movements would seem most unfair and unjust. After all, by democracy Gandhi never meant once every five years phenomenon; he regarded it as a continuous process of people's active involvement in all spheres of decision-making, though it necessarily won't give a freehand for making a mockery of Gandhian methodology of Satyagraha and extending it to Fast(s)-unto death in terms of hours or days at best. Corruption being a inimical menace; what was seen was the cathartic release of pent-up feelings of the people of both the emerging India and the protesting Bharat. Time will say the degree of Gandhian nature of Hazare movement, as some of late deviations are already being observed. Any visible change to eradicate corruption in the country will be a tribute to Gandhiji whether it is Anna Hazare movement or the ruling establishment's timely response to the cause. But, the fact of the matter is that Gandhism portrays the real Zeitgeist.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Should a moratorium be imposed on all fresh mining in tribal areas of the country?

- By Nishi Tigga (Student of

“The hill is our god and the earth our Goddess. Between the two, we have the rains and water. Those wanting to mine here will slowly take over all this. Where will we go then?”
This is very a simple question of Dongria Kondh man from Lakpaddar, Niyamgiri Hills but do we have answer to this question?

Scientist all over the world believe that the world exists because nature adheres to the principles of symbiotic relation.  A symbiotic relationship as defined by the ecologists is a relationship between two entities and which is mutually beneficial for the participants of the relationship. If one of them suffers the other is bound to get affected by it. Don’t we see   the principle of symbiosis between the tribals and the forests? Will they not be subject to   destruction if they are separated from each other suddenly?

History of tribals dates back to where history of India starts. The first Five year Plan for 1951 to 1956 had a positive policy for assisting the tribals. The first  plan  clearly  mentioned that  we have to assist the  tribals to  develop  their  natural  resources  and  to  evoke  a  productive economic life wherein they will enjoy the fruits of their own labour and will not be exploited by more organized economic forces from outside. But after 66 years of independence have we been able to keep our promises or have we become the very reason threatening the very aspect of their existence?

The mining projects both by government and private sectors since independence have displaced about 60 million tribals. This has   resulted in landlessness, joblessness, homelessness, marginalization, food insecurity, increased morbidity and mortality, loss to access to common property resources, social disarticulation, differential risk identities and risks to also host population. Mining displaced thousands of people from their traditional sources of sustenance. One can imagine the plight of innocent people whose communities were shattered along with their meager sources of livelihood as a consequence of their forced displacement under mega irrigation, mining, industrial or infrastructure projects. The infrastructure projects though increases productivity and production to a great extent, are not unmixed blessings. They give rise to involuntary displacement thereby creating untold miseries for the ousted as has been experienced in the completed and ongoing projects.

The mining industry's growth is inextricably linked to environmental and human right violations.  Several million adivasis and dalits have already been evicted to accommodate mines and related industries, and several more have been impacted due to land degradation and environmental imbalances caused by mining.  Mining has destroyed the water balance in drought-prone states like Orissa, Gujarat and Rajasthan.  In areas like Kashipur, Orissa, new mining projects threaten indigenous populations and forests in the watershed that are critical in replenishing the fresh water resources of the country.  In other areas such as in the coal mines of Jharkhand or the mica mines of Southern Andhra Pradesh, mining has polluted the air and water over vast areas leading to a noticeable decline in the health of people living there

We have many examples in our country that describes the unbroken history of broken promises. Jharkhand is one of   state where tribals have been the worst affected. On 15 November 2000, when Jharkhand came into being, a long standing demand for separate statehood was fulfilled, not merely to establish a distinct identity but also to do away with the centuries of injustice. “Development” for the sake of urban lifestyle became synonymous to up-rooting poor Tribals from their traditional land and lifestyle.  The political-corporate nexus became active to grab the Tribals’ land, minerals, and other resources became apparent when over 42 MOUs were signed soon after the state was formed. Reports of Indian People’s Tribunal on Environment and Human Rights indicate that a total number of 6.54 million people have so far been displaced in Jharkhand in the name of development.

A similar situation exists in Chhattisgarh as well. Seven percent of the country’s bauxite, about 198 million tones, is available in the Sarguja, Jashpur, Kawardha, Kanker and Bastar districts. It is being mined at present in Sarguja by the now privatized Sterlite and the Hindalco companies. Hundreds of adivasi families have lost their lands. In the name of employment one person from the affected family were employed as lowly paid contract labor. Discontent is rife among these landless adivasi miners. Sixteen percent of the country’s coal (39,545 million tons) is to be found in the Raigarh, Sarguja, Koriya and Korba districts of northern Chhattisgarh. In 2007, the adivasis of Khamariya Village, raising objections to giving up their lands to the Jindal Coal Mines, were beaten up during in a public hearing arranged by the district administration.

In Madhya Pradesh the foundations of illegal mining operations are laid down by benami land deals. In the Satpura Forest Range of the Betul district, illegal mining operations are carried out on patta lands given to tribal people for farming under the Forest Rights Act. It has been reported that families of high profile politicians own many mining companies that carry out illegal operations in mineral rich areas like Sehore and Betul.  Similar illegal mining operations are rampant in Andhra Pradesh also. The bauxite mining in the Araku Valley has been going on in the lands of small tribal farmers. In many cases the Andhra Pradesh Mineral Development Corporation acted as a front for private companies and took over lands of small farmers.

Throughout India, Adivasis have become increasingly conscious and have organized dozens of grassroots movements to oppose further land-grabs and displacement and they have been asking only one question as to whose country is it anyway? Can stakeholder agreements and promises to share mining profits with Adivasi communities help settle these conflicts?  The Indian Supreme Court on 18 April 2013 rejected an appeal to allow the company to mine the Niyamgiri Hills. Instead, it has said that local tribal councils themselves should decide within the next three months whether or not the project should go ahead. This certainly is a landmark victory in recognizing indigenous rights in India but the final result has yet to come.

Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh Sunday mooted 20-year moratorium on mining in tribal areas of Andhra Pradesh. The Union Development Minister also strongly believed that unregulated mining have resulted to Maoist problem.  We cannot deny this fact that in the recent past we have seen an extreme growth in the number of Maoists. Mining sector has proved to be devastating for tribal but we cannot deny the fact that India’s mining industry is an increasingly important part of the economy, employing hundreds of thousands of people and contributing to broader economic growth. Roughly 70% of India’s power generation currently comes from coal. As India's economy shows signs of slowing, mining remains one of the bright spots on its horizon. India is the world's third largest producer of coal and the fourth largest of iron ore. Its mining industry is predicted to grow to $36.2bn by 2016.The geological survey of India estimates that the country has around 277 billion tons of coal reserves and the consumption of coal is expected to increase by around 1500 million tons per year by 2031.

It is impossible to close down mines but the best possible solution is to take a middle path and impose moratoriums on fresh mining in the tribal areas. These moratoriums can be used to stop mining in India’s forests until proper environmental and social assessments are carried out. Millions of people in India live near or within forests, and rely on them for their livelihoods. According to the Centre for Science and Environment around 26000 hectares of forested land have been diverted for coal mining since 2007. Any new mine will also need the infrastructure around it, including power plants, roads and rail – requiring even more land. Therefore keeping the present conditions of mining sector in mind moratoriums in fresh mining areas is one of the way out   to deal with these issues. Moratorium on developmental projects in tribal territories, will prevent land acquisition and displacement of tribal communities. The moratorium period can be also used as a transition phase where a particular tribal society is first developed by providing them basic need like school; hospital road facility connecting them to cities; good and healthy living conditions. The government could also start various skill development program in the village. The government should actively put more meaningful governance in place for the whole sector.

The government should conduct a study and demarcate those areas only where mining can be done in a sustainable manner and auction it to the highest bidder. The government should recover money that has been lost from the illegal mining carried out all over the country. The government should take necessary action against those who have violated the law by terminating all leases and making up for loss suffered by the State. A positive step towards safeguarding tribals’ rights is the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Bill, 2011. The Bill has been prepared after several rounds of consultation and workshop with all Stakeholders .It seeks a complete and holistic reform in the mining sector with provisions to address issues relating to sustainable mining and local area development, benefit sharing mechanism to the people affected by mining operations.

Mining firms in India employ hundreds of thousands of people and are seen as a center of rapid economic growth. But mining can be a uniquely destructive industry if it is not properly regulated. Irresponsibly run mining operations can damage health, environment and livelihoods of the same local residents who are meant to benefit from mining. Every level of social structure is damaged when a mine or metals factory takes over indigenous people’s  land, their ecologically-attuned economy, strongly egalitarian power structure, material culture and cultivation systems based on self-sufficiency, and an identity based on rootedness to the land that often seems very hard for non-tribals. Imposing moratorium in fresh mining areas will definitely give them some relief.   Indian Government should take the condition of the tribal seriously. Let’s not mine them out of existence but stretch our   helping hands and save them   and their culture which they have preserved from times immemorial.

“Only after the last tree has been cut down. Only after the last river has been poisoned. Only after the last fish has been caught. Only then will you find that money cannot be eaten.”

Monday, 22 July 2013

Political Parties and RTI

This article is just a collection of views from various sources, some of whom speak for the motion and vice-versa.

“Good for others not for me"

This has been the tag line for transparency laws in India. Recently, there has been a lot of debate over the CIC’s order of bringing in the Political parties under the ambit of RTI.  The 54 page judgment given by CIC on 3rd June describes Political Parties as Public Authorities. This judgment was given after providing ample opportunity to the representative of various Political Parties to respond on the issue and have taken inputs from the Election Commission's and Income Tax Department. The Commission argues that the judgment is based on the basic need to bring in transparency into the management and funding of   Political Parties.

·     Directs all national parties to appoint information officers and provide information sought under the act within six weeks.
·     To comply with the provisions of the RTI Act by way of making voluntary disclosures.

1.     Political parties are substantially financed indirectly by the central government through concessional land allotments, tax exemptions etc, and thus they are held to be public authorities under Section 2(h) of the RTI Act.
2.     The criticality of the role played by political parties in our democratic set-up and the nature of duties performed by them also point towards their public character, bringing them under the ambit of section 2(h). i.e., the performance of public duty by political parties which “in spite of being non-governmental wield or directly or indirectly influence exercise of governmental power” to “affect the lives of citizens in every conceivable way”

Demands by CIC
·     Enable anyone to ask for internal deliberations of a party including inter-party discussions.  
·     Disclose basis for selection of candidates.
·     Divulge details on money raised and funding of political parties.

 Association for Democratic Reforms (ADR) views
·     Lack of scrutiny had led to parties being able to accumulate unexplained wealth running into hundreds of crores of rupees.
·     Political parties must be treated as public authorities because they receive substantial government support in the form of free air time on Doordarshan and All India Radio during elections, discounted rents for party offices and large income-tax exemptions.

Views in support
1.     Political parties have lost their legitimacy due to opaque financing, leaders with a criminal background, subversion of institutions, exposés of bipartisan scams and abuse of power.
2.     State power works through institutionalized channels. The powers and functions of each and every state organ are defined through well-defined processes; state functionaries are held accountable not for outcomes, but adherence to due process. The government bodies are constitutionally liable to treat all citizens equally, except where permissible in law. Even the apex court had already ruled before the advent of the RTI Act that citizens have a right to know about the assets and criminal records of those who stand for elections.
3.     Section 2 (h) of the act states that a non-government organization substantially financed, directly or indirectly by funds provided by the appropriate government, is included in the definition of a public authority. The commission looked at the figures of funds and these appeared to show that crores of rupees of government money had indeed been given to the political parties and could be considered “substantial funding”. Thus should be, willing to part with information to citizens as per the law. There have been a number of court judgments that have confirmed this.
4.     There have been cases where private organizations have been declared as public authority by the respective high courts eg: CWG, Benglaru Airport authority, Delhi Sikh Gurudwara Sikh management committee etc.,
5.     The order doesn’t interfere with the decision making process of the parties. Sec 8(d) of the act states “information  including  commercial  confidence,   trade  secrets  or  intellectual  property,   the disclosure  of  which would  harm  the  competitive  position  of   a  third  party,   unless  the  competent authority  is  satisfied  that   larger  public  interest   warrants  the  disclosure  of   such  information”. Here political party can refuse to provide information demanded.
6.     As per Sec 8(j) , any information which relates  to  personal  information  the  disclosure  of   which  has  no  relationship  to any  public  activity  or  interest ,or which would  cause  unwarranted  invasion  of   the  privacy  of   the individual, can be denied unless  it is in public interest. Thus, in case the parties do not want to disclose the name of the donors, the same can be done under this clause.
7.     In the face of a disobedient political class, the order has also provided a grip to force transparency and a little of accountability on political parties.
8.    It is important to note that political parties exist in a framework of unequal distribution of formal and informal power individually and collectively, and different power combinations assert themselves at different times to affect decision-making. It is useful to evaluate the notion of transparency and accountability of political parties against this backdrop.
9.     Citizens will become more aware, which may influence their votes, and perhaps the way political parties work. It will uncover records — or the fact that there are no records — kept by them. These will slowly change the government, and institutions will become more accountable as currently there is no law which mandates the political parties to maintain books of records. Even if some embarrassing information is revealed, it would lead to improvements in their functioning.

Views Against
1.     Political parties are not governmental organizations or state-funded entities. There was no constitutional provision for a political party. A political party is an association of citizens who come together voluntarily to form a party on the basis of an ideology, programme and leadership.
2.     The political parties allege that they are not substantially funded by the government rather by their supporters including people, corporate houses etc.
3.     Under the present law, every recognized political party had to submit its annual statement of accounts and finances to the Income Tax Department and to the Election Commission. The Election Commission had been providing information about political parties’ audited accounts and finances to anyone who applied for it under the RTI Act.
4.     The political party concerned can move for their disqualification. This has been cited to accord political parties a statutory status. This is obfuscation. The relevant issue is to stop defection by elected representatives who betray the mandate given to them. It applies to members of legislative bodies but does not apply to other members of parties who are free to leave a party and join another. But this disqualification of a member can be done only by the presiding officer of the House and not by a political party.
5.     Under the law currently, parties are already accountable to the income tax authorities, the Election Commission and, in their political performance, the people. There is already a mechanism for accountability available. The RTI Act envisages that information on record must be furnished to any citizen, unless the entity is exempt as per the provisions of Section 8 or 9.  The information commission comes into the picture only when there is a dispute between the citizen and a PIO on the issue of providing information. Essentially, CIC has done now is that it has made political parties accountable to the information commission under the garb of making them accountable to people. The RTI is a citizen empowerment tool, not a commission empowerment one.
6.     Approach to regulation is not normative. It is instrumental. It is a function of our gut instincts of trust and distrust. Since we distrust political parties at the moment, we assume they ought to be regulated more tightly.
7.     The CIC adduces that “in spirit these political parties can be said to have been constituted by their registration by the election commission of India, a fact akin to establishment or constitution of a body or an institution by an appropriate government”. But, even a marriage is valid only when recognized by a public authority; it does not mean public authority institutes the marriage. Merely registration doesn’t makes it public authority and accountable.
8.     There is a case for disclosing funding sources. It jeopardizes freedom of association if we think all internal decisions of parties should be subject to some form of legal or public scrutiny. The order may pave the way for far-reaching interference in the internal affairs of parties.

Difficulties in Implementation
The decision of the CIC, if implemented, will have far-reaching implications for containing corruption. This is, however, not likely to happen for the following reasons:
1.     In the case of political parties, there is limited scope for the enforcement of the penalty clauses as per Section 20 (1 and 2) of the RTI Act, through which the CIC imposes monetary penalty and recommends disciplinary action against the public information officer (PIO). It would be difficult to recover compensation from parties, if awarded to information seekers under Section 19 (8)(b) of the act, on grounds of perpetual harassment for obtaining information. It is alleged that a few office bearers of parties have dubious character and criminal records. If such persons are appointed PIOs, who will dare approach them for accessing information, by putting himself in danger?
2.     The organizational structure of government bodies and that of voluntary associations like political parties is totally different. The RTI Act has been adopted keeping in view government servants, who plan and execute policies and programmes for the welfare of the people.

Therefore, a large part of the act, mainly Section 4 that deals with the maximum disclosure of information about a public authority, and Section 8 that deals with exemptions from disclosure, are entirely irrelevant for political parties.

Similarly, there are provisions, such as Section 2(j), which require the public authority to allow scrutiny of the day-to-day affairs and activities. This may not, however, be desirable due to the voluntary nature of such functions. Clearly, the CIC cannot afford to be oblivious to the role of a political party in a democratic country.

Other options
·     Section 2(h) of the act has been defined such that public authorities could be easily identified. Those bodies not covered in the definition of public authorities could be asked to furnish the information under Section 2(f), which stipulates that a citizen can seek any "information relating to any private body which can be accessed by a public authority under any other law for the time being in force".
·     In view of this, instead of holding political parties as public authorities, irrespective of the functions they perform, the CIC could have asked the EC to obtain the desired information under Section 2(f) from the concerned parties and that information could be shared with the requester.
·     Such an order could have served the twin purpose of putting details of political funding in the public domain and avoiding unnecessary legal controversy on whether political parties could be brought within the ambit of the RTI Act as public authorities.

-     Vijay Laxmi Merita (Student of

Additional Readings