RTI Cell, ATI, Kohima. Right to Information Act and the Role of Media. Information is regarded as the oxygen of democracy. It invigorates where it percolates. If people do not know what is happening in their society, if the actions of those who rule them are hidden, then they cannot take a meaningful part in the affairs of the society. Freedom of expression, free dissemination of ideas and access to information are vital to the functioning of a democratic government. Information is crucial for a vibrant democracy and good governance as it reflects and captures Government activities and processes. Access to information not only facilitates active participation of the people in the democratic governance process, but also promotes openness, transparency and accountability in administration. ‘Right to Information’ (RTI), the right of every citizen to access information held by or under the control of public authorities, can thus be an effective tool for ushering in good governance. The major characteristics of good governance are participation, rule of law, transparency, responsiveness, equity and inclusiveness, effectiveness, efficiency, accountability, strategic vision and consensus-orientation. Transparency means that decisions are taken openly and enforced as per rules and regulations. It requires that information is freely available and directly accessible to those who will be affected by such decisions and their enforcement. It also means that enough information is provided to all the stakeholders in easily understandable forms and media to enable their meaningful participation in decision making processes. Accountability means that public institutions and functionaries are answerable to the people and to their institutional stakeholders. In general, an organization or an institution should be accountable to those who will be affected by its decisions or actions. Accountability cannot be enforced without a regime of transparency. A direct relationship exists between right to Information, informed citizenry and good governance. The Right to Information provides citizens the opportunity of being informed of what the Government does for them, why and how it does it. Good governance provides a platform that enables government functionaries to operate efficiently, effectively and transparently and be accountable to the public for their actions. It aims to put an end to inconsistent government practices and helps in establishing a responsive State. Public participation in Government, respect for the rule of law, freedom of expression and association, transparency and accountability, legitimacy of Government, and the like, which are the core values of good governance, can be realised only if the right to information is implemented in the right spirit. Right to information is the hallmark of good governance. Media and Development The media can make a real difference to the lives of poor and disadvantaged people by: • making people more aware of their rights and entitlements; • enabling people to have access to government programmes, schemes and benefits; • making people more aware of political issues and options and helping to stimulate debate; • educating the public on social, economic and environmental issues; • drawing attention to institutional failings – corruption, fraud, waste, inefficiency, cronyism, nepotism, abuse of power and the like; • fostering exchange of best practices, knowledge resources, access to better technology, and to better choices;
RTI Cell, ATI, Kohima. • creating pressure for improved government performance, accountability and quality, for example in service delivery; and • providing a discursive space for citizens to dialogue with other actors in the governance process. The three main areas through which the media can make a significant impact on development and poverty reduction are: 1) Empowerment Media has a definite role to play in the empowerment of citizens. It gives voice to the needs...
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