Polling campaigns should focus on voters
The results of the recently concluded assembly elections in Delhi turned out to be a low-key affair for national parties. Of late, the trend of regional parties to set a surprise comeback in assembly polls is emerging, while obtaining a clear majority otherwise in Assembly polls remains a challenge even for popular national parties. The voters on the other hand only look forward for any government only to come back on its toes at the earliest.
Polling campaigns should extensively focus on voters as a priority by promising a better governance for the next five years. A deep focus on specific issues in Delhi on curbing air pollution and resolving traffic woes is highly essential for the newly elected government.
Logic of notification issued about new one-rupee note
It refers to Gazette Notification GSR 95(E) dated February 7, 2020 -printing of one rupee currency notes rules, 2020- issued by Union Finance Ministry regarding further issue of yet another new one-rupee note, even though the earlier one issued on March 6, 2015 with several re-prints have never been in actual circulation, and its packs of 100 are mostly available at heavy premium multiple times face-value of the pack. Interesting fact remains that one-rupee note discontinued long back about quarter-century ago subsequently later with those of rupees two and five because of their high printing cost and low life with coins in these circulations having become popular.
One-rupee note is issued evidently because of bureaucratic craze of printing their signatures. Notes of rupees two and five were not introduced after once discontinued to be printed because notes of these denominations bore signatures of Governor of Reserve Bank of India (RBI) like the one that exists on notes of rest other denominations.
Even majority of bank-employees have not seen re-issued one-rupee notes being issued ever since March 6, 2015. System should be that either note or coin may be issued in any of the denomination. Moreover guidelines should be changed so that one-rupee note may also bear signature of RBI governor to avoid huge wastage of public-money on printing one-rupee notes only because of bureaucratic craze of printing signature of Secretary to Government of India on these one-rupee notes.
RTI fees and payment-mode should be uniform in entire country
It refers to reports about Madhya Pradesh government raising RTI fees from present Rs 10 to Rs 100 with additional raised fees for filing First Appeals and Second Appeals at Rs 500 and Rs 1000.
But RTI fees cannot be more than Rs 50 according to court-verdict. Rather Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT) should notify that RTI fees and payment-mode should be uniform for all states and Competent Authorities. Earlier several Competent Authorities and states had fixed abnormally high RTI fees at Rs 500 according to power given to them under sections 27 and 28 of RTI Act. But negligible RTI fees of just Rs 10 fixed long back in the year 2005 by DoPT has lost relevance being one of the reasons for misuse of RTI Act.
Uniform RTI fees of Rs 50 inclusive of copying charges for first 20 copied pages should be there for all public-authorities and states. It will save man-hours and postal-charges for both public-authorities and RTI applicants in demanding and remitting copying charges. But additional RTI fees for First Appeals and Second Appeals must not be there.
It is senseless to burden postal-department and banking-system with excessively high handling cost of about Rs 50 for postal-department alone for a postal-order worth Rs 10 submitted as RTI fees, DoPT should ask postal-department to abide by repeated CIC-directives to issue special RTI stamps in denominations of Rs 2, 10 and 50 like erstwhile stamps issued for TV and radios.
However facility to submit post-free RTI applications addressed to central public-authorities can be made available at all about 160000 post-offices of the country rather than present just about 4500 post-offices. Fake RTI applications should be prevented by abiding with verdict of Punjab-Haryana High Court to make it compulsory to file ID proof with every RTI application, First Appeal and Second Appeal.
Subhash Chandra Agrawal
(The views expressed by the author in the article are his/her own.)