Fifth Estate Concept

There are four estates of democracy. These are: The Legislature, Executive, The Judiciary and The Press (now called, Media).

The legislature is the people’s representative body, elected by the people. The legislature legislates, lays down the law.

The Executive implements the law and provides government services.

The Judiciary ensures Executive compliance with the Constitution and laws.

The Press is to be a watchdog over the other three.

Unfortunately, the Press have become presstitutes, available to the highest bidder.

Hence, is the need for a Fifth Estate.

Movements, such as the “Arab Spring”, “Occupy Wall Street” are extreme examples of the Fifth Estate take over, sometimes successfully and sometimes not so well, the role of the Fourth Estate.

In this website which, is meant to encourage an active role for the Fifth Estate in governance, you will find views and constructive suggestions for action.

Visitors may post articles, comments, participate in chats, organize chat sessions, set up and take part in Forums and discussions therein. All this absolutely free. 

This is a tool for all those interested in how they are governed and how they may make the other estates of democracy accountable to them.

You would also find useful information on solution to problems people face due to deficiency in governance and other services.

All are invited to join the Fifth Estate to bring into India and other parts of the World, governments that are truly, of, by and for the people.

How to use RTI

How to USE RTI?

In the editorial on Friday, 29 April 2016, I had pointed out how there is a move afoot to scuttle the RTI Act, which has become a thorn to most politicians. 

While people would certainly thwart any such machinations, it is also necessary to know how to use RTI most effectively. It is indeed the most powerful tool in the hands of the people to rein in their representatives as the latter strut around like rulers.

RTI shines the torchlight of transparency into dark corners where conspiracies are hatched for swindles and scandals of public monies. The argument advanced by some that RTI could and is used by certain applicants for blackmail is rather silly. Blackmailers could use any information regarding transgressions of any law, say, the mining regulations, for blackmail. In fact, some silence is often bought without the potential blackmailer's effort.

To use RTI for improving governance one must know firstly, the RTI Act thoroughly and then know what to look for in which are of government and what the objective is. 

The RTI Act has several provisions that one must be familiar with. The definition of "Information" must be clearly understood. The objective of the Act should be appreciated. It is to make Government transparent. It should also be anticipated that officials will attempt to delay and deny information, not only when they are corrupt, but also because the very act of seeking information sets them up to take a position of "We vs They". 

It is always useful to ask for copies of documents and request inspection of files. 

Most people are unaware that reasons for government decisions may sought. Sec 4 (1) (c) and (d) provide for this. These two clauses are the essence of RTI. 

Now, look at the objective of filing RTI applications.

First, the objective. For example, one could set up an objective as ensuring proper implementation of the Right to Food Act (RTF); or preventing corruption in building sanctions by Municipalities.

Once the aim is clear, the next step is to study the laws, regulations and rules applicable to the department and activity. Next, one examines the processes to see where corruption or inefficiency could lurk. For instance, in RTF, it could be in denial of BPL ration cards or delays in issuing these. 

One should ask for processes, responsibilities, manuals or laid down procedures, time stipulations, status of sample applications etc. One could ask for statistical information which would reveal efficiency or the lack of it. 

One could have the application in a tabular format to facilitate ease of reply as well as monitoring validity / completeness of replies.

RTI is sometimes like a cross-examination with adamant officials who are bent upon denial of information. It is a prolonged process and needs perseverance and meticulous follow up.

Lobby your MP, MLA and Municipal Council / Panchayat members, trade unions and associations against UID

The NO2UID Campaign is non-political and non-ideological. It affects everyone, rich and poor, influential and marginalised, those in government and those outside it. Most people are ignorant of the evils of a database state. Many imagine that IT could be used for anything and everything. Some think that it would eliminate corruption.

 

People do not know that a database with information about you, about all people, under the control of corrupt politicians and bureaucrats, could be used against people. If the poor could be “Targeted” to provide them with “welfare benefits” using a database, the same database could be used to “target” anyone else for any other purpose.

 

The causes of leakages of welfare funds are not because the beneficiaries are not properly identified. The causes are corruption and inefficiency. Corruption is in decision-making – decisions on eligibility for welfare, in fixing Minimum Support Prices (MSP) for procuring PDS grains, in procurement, in storage, in transportation, in appointing ration shops, NREGS contractors etc.

 

Databases and unique identification could never prevent illegal migrants from entering the country. Only better border policing and control would do that.
How could anyone decide from a person’s fingerprints, whether he / she is an Indian or foreigner or an illegal migrant?,/p>

Politicians, bureaucrats, the rich and powerful in business imagine that they could circumvent any system through bribes and hence, databases and surveillance systems would not affect them. Some would like to use the business opportunity by tapping into government spending on setting up and maintaining such IT systems.

 

Politicians, bureaucrats and businesspersons, who see personal pecuniary and other advantages in such systems, use the fear of terrorism to induce people to accept these methods. People foolishly believe such theories. People do not realise that the underlying assumption is that everyone, other than those in control, is a potential terrorist and needs to be watched.

 

Who will watch the watchers?
We should tell our MPs, MLA, and other elected reps and organized associations the truth about database control. They should know how it would affect them, as much as it affects everyone else.

Should you need any assistance for contacting your local reps, please email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

The link here will take you to the Lok Sabha webpage with names, constituency and contact details of all Members of Parliament. Please use this to send appeals to them and engage them to scrap the UID Scheme.

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