We contacted NITI Ayog with the problems with Right to Information Systems in India detailing the problems and seeking help on any kind of interventions they can make.
Why we contacted NITI Ayog?
As a background NITI Ayog is a nodal agency to monitor and implement Sustainable Development goals including Strong Institutions & Justice, processes around it. As a strong nodal agency they can actively intervene with policy suggestions to enable a strong, seamless and working right to information system around the RTI Act 2005.
NITI Aayog works on the concept of collaborative federalism between center and states, their role is not just to collect data around sustainable goals but pro-actively work to fructify and maintain the highest standards in implementation. Their work involves active collaboration with ministry of statistics and program implementations (MosPI) to develop indicators for sustainable development goals and targets of critical importance to humanity and the planet.
A digitized Right to Information can develop such indicators around how the information was asked, the abuses both by citizens and governments, how the information was disseminated, where are the bottlenecks and evolve processes around it.
With current systems its not possible to do so, considering most of the state agencies don't report their data on right to information pro-actively or re-actively. Its still on papers distributed across departments without any mean to actually quantify any aspect of it.
Which is a huge problem by first hand experiences.
What was NITI Ayog's Response?
We got a response from NITI Ayog
Subject: Reply to your email dated 28/09/2015.
I am directed to say that NITI Aayog is not mandated to consider your request for fixing RTS System in India. You may like to approach the Central Information Commission (cic.gov.in) in this regard.
Its good that they responded, the response was cold, knee jerk and incomplete. After doing months long research we do understand that central Information commission is the nodal central agency for central ministries and agencies, there are totally independent state level agencies handling right to information from state ministries and agencies. The problems around this whole system was detailed fully with all the inefficiencies presented with evidences, still NITI Ayog simply knee jerked the issue. Which doesn't inspire confidence considering they are supposed to be at the cutting edge of creativity and out of box thinking around such issues.
Also NITI Aayog is definitely mandated to make right interventions around such issues, we were not fooling around when our team spent so much time with various PIOs, SPIOs, standing in line collecting money orders, creating RTIs, Sending them out all manually, and then following up with all the 34 states, waiting on phone, going back and forth with their individual demands, just to collect right evidences so NITI Aayog or someone with right intentions and authority can act.
Are we mandated to do this?
We are doing this as a concerned citizen whose tax money, freedom and future depends on a working implementation of this very important law, which was fought for so long to get notified.
This kind of response from people actually mandated to do their job is simply disheartening, and can throw any well meaning citizen into a state of defeated apathy which is the country is right now.