Published On: Wed, Mar 21st, 2012

Part-2 How RTI can help achieve GNH

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2. Time Use

Transparency legislations compel government departments to proactively disclose information that is essential for the citizen. It also requires them to effectively make public new sIt would cut down the time taken to access government information and services, and lessen the wait for government to respond or take action. Experiences elsewhere show that the implementation of transparency legislation resulted in fewer and shorter delays and reduced transactional time. Every citizen has to interact directly with the government at some point. However, the number of hours that the average citizen spends in interacting with government departments, essentially adding up to time wasted, could be dramatically reduced by the effective implementation of a transparency legislation.   RTI will also complement the Bhutan government’s G2C schemes designed to promote the on-line availability of services and information.chemes and policies specifying the rights and opportunities that the people enjoy. If information about the documents required to apply for a business license, for example, were widely available it would entail fewer trips to a trade office to ask questions, and cut down on the number of times people would have to be sent away because they didn’t have the correct documentation in place.

3. Community Vitality

Experiences with transparency legislation show that many requests for information dealt with issues that affected not just the

individual applicant, but entire communities. When battling powerful vested interests, communities tend to unite, releasing and

channeling the community’s vitality into a fight for a common good. Once mobilized, such communities develop strong bonds of trust, and transparency becomes a part of life.

A community where transparency is the norm is a much more secure and stable one. Neighbors and family members can be sure that they are not cheated by each other, community resources are openly distributed or allocated, and work is evenly allotted. It also helps foster understanding within a community. Clarity about the criteria for eligibility for government schemes would lessen tensions within different groups, where one group may have felt that another was being unfairly favoured by the government.

A community that is so empowered also becomes capable of ensuring its own well being. Its resources are less likely to be exploited by wealthy members and it is less vulnerable to institutional corruption. Once a community knows what is its due, and know how to get what is due, it will not allow itself to be oppressed.

 

4. Culture

The best custodians of culture and cultural traditions are communities themselves, and transparency legislation allows them to be directly involved in its protection,

and ultimately propagates cultural traditions and strengthens cultural identity.Experiences also attest to another interesting cultural development in relation to transparency legislation.   Many groups have found that the best way to spread the message of transparency is through traditional cultural mediums like theatre, dance and music. Some traditional performance art forms that were fading out have received a huge boost from their new and renewed use as a means of propagating awareness about the right to information.  In the Bhutanese context, RTI can be disseminated using traditional Bhutanese art and craft and giving RTI a uniquely Bhutanese character.

 

5. Health

The right to information has many uses within the health sector, starting with something as straightforward as mandatory proactive dissemination of crucial health

and safety information. This simple step can be a key to saving lives and helping raise awareness about health and hygiene issues.Transparency legislation is most powerful when the needs of the people and the government coincide, and they can work together. In this case, transparency legislation can be used to monitor pollution and other health hazards that are a byproduct of industry or municipal activity. If the rules and limitations that the industry is to follow are made widely available, then the public can help with the monitoring, making it incredibly difficult for companies to cut corners. The same applies to food adulteration.   RTI would also help improve the transparency of the procurement of drugs and medical equipment by Bhutan’s health system.

 

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- A reporters newspaper. Breaking News, Investigations, Analysis, Opinion, Business, Politics, Economy, GNH, Democracy, Gewogs, Dzongkhags, South Asia, World, Bhutan

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