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VOLUME-2 ISSUE-12 DECEMBER 2007

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An e-journal from Centre for Public Policy Research

MINDTEXT
MINDTEXT is published by CENTRE FOR PUBLIC POLICY RESEARCH Nadakavu Post, Vaikom Road, Cochin Kerala, India - 682 307 Editors : Kalpana Sudheer & Lekha Pillai Design : Boby Kurian Layout Consultant: T.V.Vinu Advisory Board: Aneish.P.Rajan, D.Dhanuraj, Seppi Sebastian To Subscribe Please log on to: http://cppr.in/mind_text.html MINDTEXT is published each month and distributed free of cost. For subscription, written requests should be addressed to mindtext@gmail.com Articles or extracts from the CPPR material may be freely used elsewhere provided acknowledgment of their source is made. For other articles appearing in the journal, permission to republish other than for the use of review must be sought from the author. Views expressed in any signed article appearing in the MINDTEXT do not necessarily represent those of the Centre for Public Policy Research and CPPR accept no responsibility for them. Authors own responsibilty for their articles. Centre for Public Policy Research endeavours in areas like research promotion, knowledge dissemination, capacity building, grass roots initiatives etc. This, the Centre believes, would be a humble beginning towards its larger efforts aimed at the creation of an equitable, socially just and environmentally sound state enriched by democratic and secular principles. It is our firm belief that each citizen has a vital role to play towards the accomplishment of these tasks. The Centre has a pool of talents from various parts of the country. They are assisted by the experts and luminaries in the respective fields. The Centre acknowledges and appreciates the value of an individual in his own area of activity and commitment to the society at large. The Centre looks forward to the guidance and support from each individual to accomplish its mission.

Editorial Raw

Disabled People-To be a part or to be apart Take Care

Reality Check
Does Constitution Exist?

Reflections
Silver Blaze

Book Review
Difficult Daughters

RTI Corner
Right to Information: Transparency in Development

Sidelines Reverberations Dead End

EDITORIAL

December Nostalgia
The December issue of Mindtext encapsulates the lore of past and present and gives way to a
new year, the year 2008.This issue is a concoction of opinions, views and radical thoughts spewed across the templates. This month of festivities and warmth gives the glimpse of the year, which it was, and the reflection of the new year yet to come. Here we open the veil…
MINDTEXT | Volume-2 Issue-12 | December 2007

Praveen and Asit in the article, Does Constitution exist?, talk about the battle, which pits the world's largest mining companies against the indigenous people (the tribals) of Orissa. The article gives an essence of a battle between “development and the environment”. It describes how the steel and metal coglomerates have invaded the lives of the inhabitants of the state with 70% of the total mineral ore in India. In the book review on Difficult daughters written by Manju Kapoor, Mahima narrates the enchanting tale which speaks of numerous breakthroughs carried out by an Indian girl who she believes, is at the epitome of all reservations and suspicions. The book “Difficult daughters”, is a wonderful story revealing the identity of a woman in need of emancipation. In the article “Right to Information- Transparency in Development”, Manish and Sudheer reflect on how the Right to Information becomes a constitutional right, being an aspect of the right to free speech and expression which includes the right to receive and collect information. Take Care by Vipin rebounds the thought that the two words with the sense of concern are just used as an appendix by everyone, which looses its relevance when used just to acknowledge that the conversation is finally over. The poem “Silver Blaze”, is a beautiful attempt for a soulful experience by Vinu . CPPR envisions and successfully makes a major breakthrough on the international platter. Various reports by Roji, Dawson, Caroline and Boby give a wide and dynamic glimpse of the team crossing all boundaries. We wish our readers Merry Christmas and an eventful New year!! Lekha Pillai (Member, Editorial committee @ Mindtext)

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In the article, To be a part or to be Apart, Debika radiates and reflects on the hindrance created by the society at large for the disabled and the aged yet able-bodied population. She emphasizes on the 'productive capacities' they inherit as along with the disability for which they are almost treated as an outcast. She exemplifies and makes it more captivating by expressing the need to give the vulnerable yet resourceful lot an opportunity to pursue a more fulfilling life.

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DISABLED PEOPLE-TO BE A PART OR TO BE APART Debika Roy Chowdhury

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he degree of development of a society can be judged by its treatment of

disabled and aged people. Disability can be inherited or acquired. Children have no choice of choosing their parents and they come into the world helpless. It is needless to emphasize that disabled children deserve the fullest consideration from family and society out of basic compassion.

It is known that in Greek civilization disabled children were allowed to die because the social conditions then prevalent allowed it. Such practices prevailed in primitive societies also. A developed society has got the productive capacity to take care of its unfortunate citizens. Misfortune is a lot of mankind and must be treated with compassion. Consider the lot of lepers. A few decades back they were treated as complete outcastes. Modern medical progress can now cure such diseases and such people can become productive members of society. Think of the genius of Beethoven whose contribution to mankind could not have been possible if his disability threw him out of the society. Consider also the contributions of great scientists like Stephen Hawkins or the brilliant work of Helen Keller. Their contribution to human society has been immeasurable. It is not uncommon to find in many families, cases of paralysis in aged people. It reflects the development of civilized society that such persons are taken care of nowadays. It would be really barbaric if such people were not accepted as a part of society. We must give handicapped people more freedom in deciding what they enjoy. I think the greatest gift we can give them is a zest for living, a spirit of wonder and adventure and the confidence that the problems of life can be solved or endured. Debika is doing her MA Sociology from Delhi School of Economics, New Delhi

It is not by muscle, speed, or physical dexterity that great things are achieved, but by reflection, force of character, and judgment. Marcus Tullius Cicero

Take care

Vipin Vishnu

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f late I've started pondering over the exact meaning of these 2 words. At the end of each conversation , the person at the other end of the phone or computer(while having an e-chat) tells me to take care or tc. Does he/she mean it? I don't know or rather, I don't think so. Take care has lost its literal meaning and has gotten reduced to a mere farewell notation . When my mother rings me up, she gives me all sorts of advices and enquires each and everything about me ; whether I'm having good food, whether I'm taking care of my health, driving safe, following her instructions, etc. At the end of the conversation she asks me to take good care of myself and from the sound of these two words coming from her mouth I can make out the genuineness and affection with which she says those words . I don't tell anyone to take care until and unless they are in some bad state of health or affairs because I don't feel the need to. If what I really want to do is bid the person at the other end goodbye, I just say the usual byes and ask them to keep in touch as that is what I want them to do most of all. A person doesn't need to remind the other to take care but he definitely has to remind the other person to keep in touch with him, though even that would probably fall on deaf ears . So the next time you talk to another person, don't use these words unless it is essential at that particular moment as the significance of these words would be lost somewhere in the goodbyes. Vipin is a Marine Surveyor, J. B. Boda Surveyors Private Limited, Mumbai

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DOES CONSTITUTION EXIST ???

Praveen & Asit

rissa's rich mineral wealth is up for grabs, and all of it in the name of the so called development. The state government is happily selling off its mines, water, forest, electricity and agricultural land to Indian multinational companies.

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All most all the big names in mining are lining up to get a slice up orissa's mineral piePosco,Jindal,Utkal Alumina, Vedanta , Bhushan Steel, to name a few. The state's new Industrial policy has rolled the red carpet for these companies by exempting them from sale tax, entry tax, electricity tax and other taxes for 20 years. Indeed, according to some estimates, the next decade will witness the uprooting and fragmenting as much as 10 lakh people-Adivasi, farmers, dalit and the working mass-as a result of indiscriminate industrialization. Data of mineral resources 1998-99 estimate the state's bauxite reserves as 1733 million tonnes, or over 70 per cent of India's bauxite reserves. The state ranks 6 th in the country in terms of attracting for investing in the post-liberalization period and in the period 1992-97, attracted Rs.97,300 (US $20.5 billion) as foreign investment. The Orissa government instead of empowering the landless by offering them land is leasing out land to the corporate houses. Food subsidies are being cut at the behest of international financial institutions like-the World Bank and department for international development so as to create a new market for food grain export from the west. Kasipur block in southern part of orissa's Rayagada district is a part of one of the poorest agroecological zones that includes the dist. of Kalahandi, Koraput and Bolangir infamous for starvation death and mass migration. The area is largely inhabited by Adivasis-Kondhs, Jhodias, Parajas, bondasand Pengas, who comprises nearly 70-80% of the population. They live in small villages around the Baphlimali hills and depend on subsistence agriculture (mostly slash or buring, or small plot in some cases).Kashipur falls under the v schedule Are and is governed by panchayat extension to schedule Area Act that provide constitutional guarantees to Adivasi's sovereignty over their land, water and forest. About the company:Utkal Alumina International limited (UAIL), is a joint venture Company in which 55% equity is held by Indal (a subsidiary of Hinadal co., an Aditya birla group) while 45% is held by Alcan of Canada .Utkal Alumina is proposed to set up alumina refinery plant in Doraguda, in Kashipur, in the Rayagada dist. of Orissa, to produce 3 millions per annum of alumina, sourcing bauxite from Baphlimali, in Kashipur, Orissa. It's a 100% alumina Export oriented project that resulting the relocation of 24 villages in the Kashipur block of Rayagada dist., southern orissa. Large portion of the Project affected people will be Adivasi and dalit. Also it would lead to destruction of their fertile land, forest, mountains, hillocks and perennial water streams in the region. Directly 2500 villagers of 82 villages and indirectly near about 8000 people of 240 villages will be displaced from their homestead, sustainable livelihood and good living. People's resistance:The resistance to bauxite mining has been going on for over a decade and half (since 1992).The tribal and dalit of Kashipur are opposing the establishment of the proposed Alumina plant of the UAIL under the banner of Prakritik Sampada Surakshya Parisad(PSSP), which was formally formed at a mass meeting in feb.1996.So many rally, road blockade, demonstration have been organised to stop the the project. In 16th Dec, 2000, when a local meeting PSSP was organized, police gun downed, wherein 3 Adivasi (Damodar jhodia, Raghunath jhodia and Abhilash Jhodia) and injured 8 others by firing rounds of bullets at unarmed people in Maikanch. In protesting against this incident an "oath march" from maikanch to Kashipur was organized."We are not afraid to die, we will not leave our land"-taking this oath 10,000 people with their traditional weapons went on a march to kashipur to give a befitting reply to the killer government. State Response:The Orissa government has been making heinous efforts to over come the people's struggle. The police machinery has been used in a number of instances to brand the protest as law and order problem and quell the protest.

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On 16th, December, 2000, Orissa police in a provoked firing kill three adivasi and injured 8 others, which witnessed the barbaric face of Indian state as well as Orissa and added a new page in orissa's history, in the village maikanch. The police used to come allegedly to arrest the leader and the Aam Aadmi, those who opposed the Utkal Alumina project. The state government has unleashed repression on the anti-mining struggle of kashipur.Six people were injured during the protest against the police at Karol in December, 2004.,which was widely seen as an attempted to suppress resistance against the proposed mine and palant.10/20 platoons of paramilitary and Arm forces have been deployed in every 20km in the area regularly flag march into the village and visit weekly market to beat and threaten those who are raising the voice as a fundamental right of our constitutionals state and district administration have violated the provision of the panchay t (Extension to schedule Area )Act,1996. Violation Constitutional of laws by utkal Alumina:As explained that entire Kashipur is totally seized by paramilitary forces and state police for over more than one year and half and is facing severe repression by state machinery because of movement for protecting the life and livelihood and culture of the adivasi and dalit from the onslaughts of UAIL.Most recently, one year back UAIL strated its construction work (though the project was signed in1993) illegally and the state government is rolling the red carpet to do so and providing all the state machinery. The UAIL is violating the constitutional laws. Following are the some of the violationsMINDTEXT | Volume-2 Issue-12 | December 2007

1) There is no environmental clearance both for mining as well as for refinery plant and captive power plant from the government of India. The UAIL had obtained the environmental clearance (EC) from ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) to produce 1.0 MTPA alumina in the refinery plant vide letter number J-11011/76/94-IA.II (I) dated 27th September, 1995 and 50 MW captive power plant vide letter number 14356/SPCB/BBSR/IND/II/NOC/355 dated 19th June, 1995.Similar environment clearance was obtained for bauxite mine dated 25th Sept, 1995. 2) As per the rules under EIA notification s.o.60 i.e. its clearly stipulated that the clearance started to any project is valid for a period of five years. It is clear from the site that till 2000, no construction had started. There is there fore, UAIL has no environmental clearance of the project. 3) No mining and forest clearance-: The Orissa Mining Corporation, a state body, was granted a prosecutions license by the govt. for 2059sqkm in Kashipur in 1992 on the condition to grant subsequent lease to interested corporation. In 1994, OMC(Orissa Mining Corporation) granted UAIL a mining lease for there lands under the condition that lease would be expired within two years if UAIL fail to commence its mining op[aeration during the period. Since the project did not begin in 1996, it appears there its lease has expired (Report of IPT by Justice S.N. Bhargav, Rtrd).UAIL would use 209 acre of forest land for its refinery plant and got forest clearance for the proposed site on 19th April, 1999 but it is unclear that when in the state forest Act prohibit the use of forest land for commercial purposes. HOW DID THEY GET FOREST CLEARANCE? 4) Orissa Legislative assembly interim report of house committee on environment, 2005-06 says the environment of clearance of UAIL has expired in 2000, and hasn't received a renewal environment clearance from MoEF and GoI, but has gone ahead with construction, violation of the provision of the provision of environmental protection Act, 1985. 5) Samata judgement; According to fifth schedule of the constitutions and the Orissa schedule Area Transfer of immovable property (by schedule tribe0, Regulation 1956, protect tribal from non-tribal entities. All the land of tribal which is being handed over to the corporate body, wherein samata judge speaks that the state and the corporate body are non-tribal. Now question is that is there law exist in India? If yes, so where is our constitutional law? Do we have any sorts of right? Does democracy exist in India? Praveen and Asit are Delhi University students

Silver Blaze
You came into my life
Like never before, I felt the light. When you were with me I never knew, day or night. You smiled at me Like never before, I felt life. When you held me tight I never knew, death or life. You showed me the way Like never before, I felt a friend. When you lead me I never knew, beginning or end. You went through my heart You went through my life Setting the trail ablaze You…Silver Blaze

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Vinu Thammanam

Vinu is an intern with CPPR

DIFFICULT DAUGHTERS
Reviewed by Mahima Vasishth

Manju Kapur

et around the time of partition and written with absorbing intelligence and sympathy, this novel is the story of a woman torn between family duty, the desire for education and illicit love. Virmati, a young woman born in Amritsar is the eldest of a batch of eleven kids. The novel arouses the reader's interest to know how a girl reacts to the constant comments from her aunt, how she fights her family and convinces them to let her pursue higher studies getting inspired by an elder cousin. The family moves to a new house which has more light, is more airy. A part of the house is rented out to the family of a Professor, an Oxford returned English Literature man who as a child was married to an illiterate woman whose main aim in life is to cook food to feed her family. The Professor gradually falls in love with Virmati who is immensely interested in studies. The rest of the book talks of their affair.

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The Professor gains control over her mind and writes love letters to her. Side by side, Virmati's family finds a man for her but she refused to marry him and tried to commit suicide, but is saved and is sent off to Lahore to study further. The affair continues as the Professor visits her, talks of his undying love for Virmati but never talks of marriage and gets her into all sorts of problems including getting her pregnant. He becomes the cause of her being rejected by her family and loosing her job. Finally they marry and the Professor takes her to his house where his mother, the illiterate wife and her children live. Virmati is still not satisfied as she's treated as an outsider in her husband's home. Towards the end, Virmati realizes that the battle for her own independence has created irrevocable lines of partition and pain around her. Manju Kapur did a commendable job, throwing light on the plethora of problems which are faced by the girls who are open to moral attacks, criticism, temptations, belonging to the orthodox Indian families-the girl yearning for love, for freedom, longing to be understood by her family, by her husband; wishing to get out of her dilemmas of uncertainties and indecisiveness. This indeed made the piece of work an award winning one. Mahima Vasishth is an eleventh standard student from St. Francis DeSales School, Delhi

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RTI CORNER
RIGHT TO INFORMATION- TRANSPARENCY IN DEVELOPMENT Shashank Manish and Sudhir
INTRODUCTION ndia got Independence in 1947 and proclaimed itself a Republic in 1950, with a great Constitution. However, in practice, brown elite replaced the white masters and Swaraj never came. Mahatma Gandhi had said, “Real Swaraj will come not by the acquisition of authority by a few but by the acquisition of capacity to resist authority when abused.” A few did acquire the authority and retained it, but the capacity to resist misuse of authority eluded the average Citizen of India. Right to Information (RTI) now empowers him to do that. The Right to Information is derived from our fundamental right of expression under Article 19 of the Constitution of India. If we do not have information on how our Government and Public Institutions function, we cannot express any informed opinion on it. This has been clearly stated by various Supreme Court judgments, since 1977. We accept that the freedom of the press is an essential element for a democracy to function. It is worthwhile to understand the underlying assumption in this well entrenched belief. Why is the freedom of the media considered as one of the essential features for a democracy? Democracy revolves around the basic idea of Citizens being at the center of governance and rule of the people.

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We need to define the importance of the concept of freedom of the press from this fundamental premise. It is obvious that the main reason for a free press is to ensure that Citizens are informed. If this be one of the main reasons for the primacy given to the freedom of the press, it clearly flows from this, that the Citizens Right to Know is paramount. Also, since the Government is run on behalf of the people, they are the rightful owners who have a right to be informed directly. Justice Mathew ruled in the Raj Narain case, “In a government of responsibility like ours, where all the agents of the public must be responsible for their conduct, there can be but few secrets. The people of this country have a right to know every public act, everything that is done in a public way by their public functionaries. They are entitled to know the particulars of every public transaction in all its bearing. Their right to know, which is derived from the concept of freedom of speech, though not absolute, is a factor which should make one wary when secrecy is claimed for transactions which can at any rate have no repercussion on public security.” Mazdoor Kisan Shakti Sangathan (MKSS) in the rural areas of Rajasthan first brought the RTI on the agenda of the Nation. Nine States had enacted the Right to Information Acts across India. On 11 and 12 May, 2005, the two houses of Parliament passed the Right to Information Act as Act 22 of 2005. This has now become operational from 12 October, 2005 - significantly Vijayadashmi. Right to Information (RTI) existed since the day the Constitution of India was framed. The present Act only gives procedures.
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An Act to provide for setting out the practical regime of right to information for citizens to secure access to information under the control of public authorities, in order to promote transparency and accountability in the working of every public authority, the constitution of a Central Information Commission and State Information Commissions and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. The need for transparency in Government functioning is obviously a basic tenet of democratic governance. It is thus quite natural that the citizen should have the right to information, to know the details of how the Government functions and whether the decisions taken are in public interest. As early as 1948, the UNDHR had pointed out that "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; the right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers . The Right to Information (RTI) became a fundamental right much later in the day because we were obsessed with the British legacy. Several Articles of our Constitution indicate citizen's rights to know but each Article includes one or more Clauses which give an overwhelming authority to the state to abridge, distort and deny the right. The reasons for such denial include public order, public morality, incitement etc. It may be mentioned here that the Right to Information existed in Sweden as early as 1766. SOME PROBLEMS AND SUGGESTIONS RELATED TO THE IMPLEMENTATION OF THE RTI ACT 2005 1).There is a lot of confusion about the appointment of Assistant Public Information Officers (APIOs), both at the central and state levels. The RTI Act says: “…every public authority shall designate an officer….at each sub divisional level or other sub-district level as a Central Assistant Public Information Officer or a State Assistant Public Information Officer, as the case may be, to receive the applications for information or appeals under this Act….” However, in many states and in some central departments, APIOs are being appointed in the same offices where the PIOs are already located.

In these cases APIOs should immediately be appointed at all the sub district level. Where PIOs are already stationed or ought to be stationed, there should be no insistence to receive application by an APIO, and the subsequent additional 5 days time for reply. 2)It has also been reported that various ministries and departments of the Government of India are either insisting that they will only accept the specific forms that they have designed, or are demanding information or documentation that is specifically prohibited by the law (the Ministry of Home Affairs, for example, demands proof of residence with applications). The Concerned Authority should clarify that applications under the RTI Act do not require any form and that people are free to apply on plain paper, as long as all the required information is included. They should also caution the various public authorities against insisting on applicants providing information that is specifically barred under section 6(2). 3)The RTI act requires that every public authority suo moto publish, within one hundred and twenty days from the enactment of the Act, the particulars of its organization, functions and duties, the powers and duties of its officers and employees, the procedure followed in the decision making process, including channels of supervision and accountability along with a great deal more information (section 4. (1) (b)). However, many state and central public authorities have taken little or no action so far.
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The Concerned Authority should write to the central public authorities/state governments seeking their urgent compliance with this provision.Some awards can be instituted, and public authorities that have most effectively complied with this provision can be awarded each year . 4)Though the RTI Act specifies that “A person, who desires to obtain any information under this Act, shall make a request in writing or through electronic means in English or Hindi or in the official language of the area in which the application is being made, accompanying such fee as may be prescribed….” The corresponding rules specify that fee can be paid by cash, demand draft or bankers cheque. However, this does not facilitate the filing of applications through electronic means and is generally expensive and somewhat restrictive. There are also technological possibilities of paying the fee through electronic means, especially through credit or cash cards, or through telephone and SIM cards . The Concerned Authority may kindly consider revising the rules in order to specifically allow payment through revenue stamps or non-judicial stamps and also add a provision that each public authority can also devise, in addition to these, any other methods possible in order to facilitate the payment of prescribed fees. They should also initiate a process by which payment of fees could be made through various electronic means. 5)There is confusion about what would qualify as proof for considering a family to be below poverty line (BPL) and thereby entitled to free information. The GOI needs to urgently issue orders specifying, for example, that a self verified ration card should be treated as proof of BPL status under the RTI Act. 6)There are widespread complaints of threats against applicants of information, especially from affected government functionaries and other vested interests. As the right to information is a fundamental right, the Authorities may consider making threats against applicants for information a cognizable offence, through appropriate amendments in the relevant laws. They may also consider requesting the Home Ministry to send out instructions to Police, asking them to take serious note of such complaints.

RTI ON TELEPHONE

Bihar

on 29th January, 2007, became the first state in the country to open a call center, ‘Jankari’, for facilitating use of the Right to Information by People. Since a large chunk of rural population is unable to read and write, the call centre would prove a boon for them as it would virtually write application on behalf of the complainants. A sum of Rs. 10 as fees (under the RTI provisions) would automatically be charged in the caller’s telephone bill. The call center’s number is 155331.

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This is an excellent step taken by the state government to establish transparency in the executive and the benefits of this can also be entertained by rural as well urban people. CONCLUSION It is a principle of administrative law that the cabinet decisions and debates should be revealed to the people, unless they disclose any sensitive and security information. Government should understand that the secrecy or classification of information must be confined to security interests, privacy issues, and trade related rights, and no more than that. In fact, the information is generated for the people as those files pile up on the initiative of a representation or complaint or requirement. A file in public authority is not compilation of documents containing trade secret or pieces of poetry copyrightable to the writer. It is the data generated, opinions sought, precedents analyzed, pros and cons discussed and impact on public exchequer examined, for advancing the public interest or answering a vociferous public demand, etc. Furthermore, in any democracy the discussion should precede the decision. The information on the file and its notings is neither the property of the officers who express opinion based on their experience and performance of a legal obligation, nor the property of the government. If the cabinet has preferred not to decide on a particular item of agenda, why should it not reveal the reasons for deferring the decision? Why not let the people know who said what on that vital issue connected to the welfare and development of the people? The character of state and sovereignty is manifest in three important wings- Executive, Legislature and Judiciary. As the open trial is the basic norm of judicial enquiry, the courts always function in public, while every aspect of proceedings in legislature is reported in media or recorded and made available to all. Most of the legislative proceedings are now being telecast live. The only wing that runs in secrecy is the Executive. The decisions at the Council of Ministers level or secretary level are not easily available to common people, which lead to absence of accountability of decision makers. Even if the decisions are made available by spokesperson of the cabinet, the reasons for decision, and different opinions expressed before they arrived at that particular decision are usually beyond access. This has been our Executive's culture, and seen from this vantage point, the RTI law of 2005 was a path-breaking legislation that gave people the power to demand information that is rightfully theirs.

In sum, the promotion of "transparency and accountability" in the working of public authorities the stated object of the landmark RTI legislation - does not stop merely with making the decisions of government public. It also lies - and critically - in making it possible for people to know on what grounds these decisions were taken. Access to file notings by officials is necessary to evaluate the process of decision-making, to understand such things as which options were considered, which were not, and why some were rejected. It is not proper to close the doors before they are fully opened and the 'enlightenment' transformed into empowerment. Shashank Manish and Sudhir Kumar are law students at Gujarat National Law University, Ahmedabad

Workshop on “Liberal Cooperative Law” at Mariarani Center Thiruvananthapuram

Kerala, is a state in India known for its wide network of co-operative societies that
controls majority of marketing and business sectors of the state. However, the lack of proper administrative and legal support, this sector is now facing serious challenges. Exploring the possibilities of enacting the Liberal Co-operative Law in Kerala, CENTRE FOR PUBLIC POLICY RESEARCH (CPPR) in association with Cooperative Development Foundation (CDF) conducted a two days workshop at the state Capital on 8th and 9 th December 2007. Workshop started with the address by Mr.D.Dhanuraj, Chairman, CPPR. Twenty-five delegates including young political leaders, Director Board members of District and State cooperative banks, academicians and representatives of media actively participated in the various rounds of discussions that followed. All the participants shared the necessity of altering the present laws and enacting a legal system that would make the sector largely independent of the government control. An informal interactive session over dinner with luminaries from different fields and the meeting with media personals were helpful in taking the message forward to the larger public. Workshop decided to form a task force to carry forward the matter. Regional and local level meetings involving leaders at the respective areas have been proposed. Participants appreciated the initiatives taken by CPPR and expressed the confidence that CPPR would lead the movement for a liberal Co-operative law in Kerala.
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International Seminar organized by FNF, Germany

Antony Dawson and C. Caroline of Centre
from Public Policy Research, Kochi represented India at a Seminar organized by FNF, Germany. The key theme of their p r e s e n ta t i o n w a s f o c u s e d o n l o c a l development in India. 24 participants from 14 countries participated in the Seminar.

Antony Dawson at the Seminar

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C.Caroline taking part in the discussions

A Week In Gummersbuch with Local Governance!
Carolin. C. Neriamparambil

An international Seminar on “Local Government and Civil Society” was organized By Friedrich
Neumann Foundation, Germany. The key objective of the seminar was to discuss the issues of local governance in different parts of the world and to create an international working network. The programme was held from November 23 to 29 in GummersBach, Germany. The process of the seminar included an online seminar with 88 participants from all over the world. During that phase participants were asked to exchange ideas to fellow participants online for three weeks, submit essays etc. 24 participants were finally selected. In the second phase the selected candidates were prepared for the seminar in Germany. In this, the participants were asked to prepare a regional presentation as part of a group exercise and also had to prepare individual essays on the local development of the representing country. The final phase was a one-week seminar in Germany.

Team CPPR got the chance to represent India in this international Seminar .Mr. Antony Dawson D'silva, Research Scholar of CPPR and Ms. Caroline C. Neriamparampil, Project Coordinator; Livelihoods represented CPPR in this international seminar. There were 24 participants from 14 countries. Monika (Germany) & Kylie (South Africa) were the moderators for the programme. The inputs given before the discussions and the exercise helped to give the contributions effectively. The group work exercises were in consideration with all the participants, so that every body in the seminar got an opportunity. The moderators were there to help the participants. Along with the moderators, the contribution of the director, Ms. Brigit Lamm, who moderated a few sessions; Alex, who were coordinating the whole programme very conveniently and the interpreters who translated the entire programme to English and Spanish at the same time have to be mentioned. In the regional representation the participants were asked to prepare in advance. It helped the participants to get an overview of all regions specifically with the issues discussed. Mostly all the participants were associated with the similar kind of activities at the career level. It all added to the productive output of the programme. The programme began on 23rd evening around 6.30 pm. With the introduction, which was lead by Dr. Brigit Lamm, Director, and IAF, the group dispersed.
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The technical sessions started on 24th, November. First there was an introduction on FNF and the world liberal club, of which the participants will be the members after the seminar. The review of online seminar was really nice. Almost all the concerns of the participants were discussed well. The difficulty to respond through post was an issue of concern for all participants. The session on the “prerequisites for a functional local government” was indeed a nice beginning. It brainstormed the ideas and expectations of participants in regard to local government. Maintaining of transparency and accountability, the extent of the necessity for a legal frame work, powerful participation of the citizens were the key issues. The session on “privatization and competition: Improvement for local Governments” was an interesting and debating session. It revolved around the practicality of the privatization to be adopted as a strategy for the improvement of local governments. The challenges and the issues of the same were discussed. Privatization and competition will definitely bring improvement in performance. Questions on how far the state's property could be privatised were discussed and debated. It was a big question to all, especially to the developing countries. A full fledged privatization may not be a good approach to adopt. However a good balance is needed, especially in the developing countries, where people needs support; particularly financial support. The regional presentation began with the presentation of the South African team. It helped participants to have a general learning on the local development context of the South Africa. It was interesting to learn their socio economic structures, political developments and the culture and traditions. The day ended with that session. Day 2, Jan 25 began with “New Public Management”, a session that saw highly focused discussions. The session was handled by Dr. Monika Bellin. The concept of customer orientation (citizens), the scope for the transparency and accountability, scope for more effective public participation etc fascinated the participants and it was followed by a good productive discussion moderated by Ms. Kyle. The issues of responsibility, information transparency, control, task and competency, budget etc were discussed well. The presentations Of Christopher Dammerman (chairman of Liberal Parliamentary Group, Werne) were an opportunity to learn the structure of German local government and its functioning. It was really interesting to learn about the tax system, political system etc. The ideas of “dog tax “and the “entertainment tax “etc were new to at least some of the participants.

The Role play was very interesting. The participants were divided into groups and each group presented a model council meeting. The theme was whether decentralization, privatization and New Public Management provided answers to a country's problems. It was really an opportunity to reflect on how clear participants were about these approaches. With the regional presentation of Latin American and Middle East team, the programme for the day came to a close. 26 November began with a session on Local government funding. After the session, the participants were divided into groups in the afternoon for a discussion on the same and there were presentations in common also. The participants discussed the types and sources of taxes, revenues and other means for local government funding. The session helped to get a global overview and also focused on good innovations. It is a fact that taxes and revenues are a source of funding for local government. So we can't abolish it wholly. But the issue lays on the introduction of customer friendly tax systems. The presentation on Euro Mediterranean and South Asian group brought an end to the exercises of the day. 27, November was indeed a good day which the participants had the opportunity for a good visit. The participants enjoyed the German city along with the scheduled programmes. The visit to Mr. Uwe Uffer, (Mayor Huckeswagen), Mr. Joachim Hoffmann, (CEO City Council Cologne) was an opportunity to learn the structure of German local government and its functioning. The interaction with the independent mayor Mr. Uwe Uffer really encouraged the participants to learn about the commitment of a leader, while the Formation of association and the programmes of the association in Cologne were meditative with regard to development work going in the political sphere of a local government. After that the participants had the opportunity for sight seeing. The cathedral, chocolate museum etc was very interesting indeed. The inauguration of Christmas market was really a joyful experience. 28 November was an important day for the seminar as it discussed some of the most important themes of local government functioning. The evaluation of the out house experience provided the room for further clarifications especially on the visit to the council mayors. The discussion on “the local political actors” was an enthusiastic experience. It listed out the major actors in local politics and clarified their roles too. It helped to identify the various groups / change agents to be channelised for bringing change. The session on local development challenges brought out the crucial issues of all the countries and it also reflected on the participant's knowledge on affairs of their country. The session on the impact of liberalism produced a good discussion on the media's role and functioning and its present status too. The session on “participation and self-administration” and the group work exercise followed by the role play were really interesting as it helped to show the evolution of good strategies and propagandas and their importance in political sphere. The evaluation post lunch was enriching indeed. The group work methodology really helped to evaluate the positives and weaknesses of the seminar. It also reflected the issues on which participants needed to work on further. The evaluations was strategically planned to reflect all the participants viewpoints. The one week seminar ended with a good farewell with delicious Italian dishes. Thus the one week seminar was really a success. As majority of participants were associated with political, administrative and development fields in their home country, this seminar really helped to create a good network of people to act with for betterment in their respective countries and this indeed was the expected key outcome of the seminar. Carolin is working as Project Coordinator (livelihood) with CPPR

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CPPR attends YLDA AGM in Jakarta

CPPR was privileged to attend the Young Liberals and Democrats of Asia (YLDA) Annual General
Meeting and workshop on “Engaging Citizens for Responsible and Effective Governance” in Jakarta, Indonesia from the 22nd to 26th of November 2007. Twenty-five participants from eight countries of Asia participated in the event in which Mr. Roji M. John, Program Manager of CPPR, represented India. Workshop offered a learning experience as participants discussed the existing good governance practices in their respective countries. Workshop also succeeded in introducing to the participants the niceties of party politics, attempts of democratization through local government bodies and the partially transformed bureaucratic state of Indonesia. Interaction with various political leaders including H. E. KH Abdurrahman Wahid, Former President of Indonesia, was the highlight of the workshop. As an exponent of liberal ideology he explained how democracy can be effective with citizen participation. He also appealed to the youth to take lead in political activity of their respective counties and strive for change. Participants also visited various party offices and local administrative bodies, and held discussions with people’s representatives at various levels. YLDA Annual General Meeting evaluated the programs implemented in the last one year and also discussed the plans of action for the year 2008. The new executive committee headed by Mr. Rajendra Mulmi as President and Mr. Jan Argy Tolentino as General Secretary, was elected into office. It was also decided in the meeting that Liberal Youth South Asia (LYSA) shall be the regional platform of YLDA in South Asia.

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The event was made possible by the generous support of the Friedrich Naumann Foundation and the hospitality and assistance of YLDAlocal partner PKB-Garda Bangsa of PKB in cooperation with Partai Demokrasi Indonesia Perjuangan (PDIP).

Comments by Dhanuraj, Chairman, CPPR on The Topic “The Simmering Dissent in the Indian Countryside: The Story of Special Economic Zones” (MT. October)

I agree with the writer that SEZ are not good economic policies. Wherever it happens, the way it
is done shall be condemned. There shall not be any role for the Government to decide on acquisition of land (the writer says that land lordism was abolished by Nehruvian era, then what is this? Isnit it the State the land lord here??? Who gives the authority to the Government to decide on the ownership of a particular land on a fine morning? I have disagreement on the idea of self reliance. Is there any one on this earth who is self reliant? The author continues to share that 'at the mercy of market' that seems to be so uncanny. We need to think why the agriculture has been put in the burner? I don't think it is because of the globalization (look at the figures of mid 80s)in fact, the government has failed to use globalization as a tool to revive agriculture if to say. What is the remedy to the agrarian crisis? Is the corporate/ cooperative farming more harmful? I am still learning on the impact but surely would have been benefited if the author had spelt the scenario in detail. Another curiosity is on the NELP of the Government (it is mentioned that the mineral base will be exhausted within a few decades). My view is that the local community has also a significant right over the natural resources and at the same time I am confused on the side of the marketing of the minerals. The middle east has become rich by selling oil and studies show that the oil respository will be over by 2040. My readings say that they do not depend any more on oil market hence after as they already have scaled up their economy in a big way.

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