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NGOs under RTI: Intelligent or amateur move?


SAUMYA PRIYADARSHI | New Delhi, May 7, 2012 19:11
Tags : non government organisation | ngo in rti ambit | foreign funds |

With the Planning Commission of India recently suggesting that the voluntary sector should also fall under the ambit of Right to Information (RTI), a new question has come to the fore, whether NGOs should come under RTI or not. NGOs or the voluntary services as it is known by many, has been under the scanner for quite some time.

The panel also suggested that a code of conduct should also be developed to ensure 'greater transparency and accountability' on the part of NGOs.

Though NGOs were there under RTI earlier as well but it encompassed only those who received public funds for their working but now the Government is deciding to bring all the NGOs under the umbrella of RTI. Since its announcement, the topic has gained some divided opinions from different sections of the society. While some believe that it is an amateur decision, some believe the opposite.

"The inclusion of NGOs under RTI is not a good move because the authorities can harass the NGOs working against them, tweaking it for their purposes." said Anuj Castelino, an advocate by profession. He said that providing information is not wrong but the misuse of information can be a big problem later especially when the government officials are involved.

While Namrata Yadav, a social activist and an anthropologist at Free A Child organisation, differs on this issue. She says, "What is the point of creating an air of mystery?" asks Yadav. "If an NGO is working properly and honestly then there should be no qualms on their part to release the information." said Namrata. She also added that it is only fair on the part of Government if it wants to keep a check on NGOs because NGOs also do the vice versa.

According to Rahul Verma, Co-Founder Uday Foundation, only large NGOs and the NGOs registered under FCRA, i.e. who are entitled to take foreign grants, should come under RTI. He said that large and medium NGOs have the man power and budget to handle RTIs, where in case of small NGOs who are mainly dependent on their volunteers, it will affect their working and budget.

Megha Shukla, a student of School of Social Sciences (JNU), believes that bringing NGOs under RTI can swing both ways. “If used properly the decision will help the NGOs itself because it will bring disparity in their working system but if used wrongly it can create the nuisance for the organisation.” said Megha.

Though, the verdict is not yet out and it still remains to be seen whether the move will affect the NGOs or not, but one can say that as of now it still a long road to be crossed. There are a lot of issues to be resolved before any final judgment is chalked out. Till then it remains to be seen whether the move receives appreciation or brickbats.

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Issue Dated: Feb 5, 2017