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How about an RTI Club on Praja?

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148 users have liked.
Praja related

Wanted to float a suggestion, just to check on feasibility and response from other users on this e-community. Many discussions, as well as projects here get into a situation where we need official records or status from local government or public agencies. In few cases, we get such information by just asking for it (email to BMTC, BMRCL etc). But in many cases, we end up with needs for RTI (Right to Information) applications. Almost every project here on Praja too needs support in terms of RTI filings.

How about we create an RTI Club here on Praja? Members of this club would basically "assembly line" the RTI filing process in domain neutral way. Let me list the mechanics:

  • Any user on this website can just create an RTI request (think a menu item, create -> RTI request, then fill questions, who to send them to, want to send it in your name or Praja.in etc etc)
  • Requests go to a queue
  • RTI Club watches this queue and clears it
  • Volunteers of RTI club will have the freedom to decide which RTIs are worth filing or not (accept or deny). They get this right in return for volunteering their time. If they like, they may pick and amend some requests to increase the chances of getting proper reply.
  • RTI Club volunteers could organize themselves into 2 or 3 groups
    • Editors - amend the questions to increase chances, and add the correct address for application. This can be all done online
    • Filers - pick what editors give, just mail the applications. Can be done twice a month
    • Scanners - just scan the response, upload them.
  • There would be some measures to prevent misuse of this Club (volunteer enthu and energy)
    • RTI Club decides what to pick and what to leave. Give them this right in return for their time
    • Allow RTI requests only from Projects, meaning, don't take RTI requests unless they are part of a project
    • Can also think of free and paid RTI requests. Paid ones get priority and guarantee of filing.

Some logistics need to be thought through, but are all addressable:

  • What return address to give for responses? All RTIs can be sent as Praja.in
  • Who will cover the costs? Apart from volunteer time, only costs is 10 Rs per RTI. Not much, we can easily find sponsors. Let me raise my hands here itself for 50 RTI apps per month (Rs 500)
  • Paid RTIs - who should members make payments to? Make them to Praja.in (undergoing registration as a Society), can cover for website hosting and operations costs etc.

Can certainly tune and improve the proposal, but hope I conveyed the concept  clearly enough - create an RTI "assembly line" supported by online tools (request feature, queue system, scanned image upload feature - via fax or phone camera, online payments if doing paid applications, some way of storing requests/replies in structured way).

How does it sound? Doable!?

Comments

vmenon's picture

rti club

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97 users have liked.

Looks good. U need also an RTI expert. one who has done this many times, to advice on filing RTI and the processes after that.

but one thing to be thot thro.RTI is not just a filing or email task.

There is "physical viewing of papers"  ,escalating to next level etc.

So it a very much real world excercise, of spendng oddles of time with the information officer of concerned govrenment body and some more.

I believe there are outfits which do this as  service out there( quasi legal firms)

 

vmenon

 

 

dvsquare's picture

Great idea

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108 users have liked.

We should go ahead with this.

For the inspection of the papers, they can be got in CD or somehow the ways can be found.

We can also get some support/guidance/suggestions from the CIVIC also.

Naveen's picture

RTI thro' Praja's weight - A great Idea

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104 users have liked.

Hats off to you SB! This is one of those things that we should have considered a long time ago & should have been doing as a matter of course by now.

As regards costs for application - they are too minor & can be met by individuals easily. The real costs are for follow up on an RTI through to it's logical conclusion - needing patience & timely action. When I had filed an RTI with BMRC (2008), I had no problems & replies had been received in a matter of a fortnight, but earlier (2006), when RTI was new & when I had tried to file for information about the SIDA sponsored BRTS for Bangalore, I had run into a wall of bureaucracy, with no tangible results. It's much later that I got to read in newspapers that SIDA had pulled out since the state govt had not abided by their recommendations (ie. they had not created dedicated lanes, etc).

You mentioned - Allow RTI requests only from Projects, meaning, don't take RTI requests unless they are part of a project

This may be fine for a start, but as we move along, I think we would need to reconsider this since there will be many topics that we might seek information about that might not necessarily involve a project in progress.

Rithesh's picture

Count me in

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92 users have liked.
I can manage a few sections of the assembly line :)
kbsyed61's picture

Count me in!

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78 users have liked.

Count me in for any drafting work or any other work that can be done remotely including finding right RTI authority to file the application.

silkboard's picture

Great, let us spec this out then

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92 users have liked.

Let us create the club here then. Slowly, those who want to "do something", but have limited time on hands will find "Praja RTI Club" to be a very practical and easy avenue to help the projects and members of this community.

So let us spec out how this will work.

  1. A separate section (RTIClub.praja.in), will be like a "group" with members.
  2. Create a new "type of content", (like we have "blog", "event" today), call it "RTI Request".
  3. Any user on the website can post an "RTI Requst". However, save some misuse by not allowing fresh/new Praja users (those who have not posted a few posts and comments) to post RTI requests.
  4. "RTI Request" posts will have an associated flag or attribute, call it status.
  5. A time-sequenced queue of all RTI Requestss will be visible to all
  6. Members of "RTI Club" will have special rights to change the status of "RTI Request"
  7. RTI Club members interact with RTI Requester via comments etc.

Now, here is the life Cycle of an RTI Request:

  • New (default, when it gets created)
  • Rejected -> RTI Club will not take this up, reason may be provided.
  • Accepted -> if RTI request is part of a project, doesn't seem frivolous etc.
  • Prepared -> RTI Application has been drafted, rady to be mailed
  • Mailed -> Application mailed, waiting to hear back
  • Replied -> Answers received
  • Uploaded -> Answers scanned and uploaded back to on the "RTI Rewuest"

Let us make it transparent, and as easy and labour-split friendly as possible. Any new user who signs up on Praja.in should be able to just join RTI Club and get going with the queue.

Logistics:

  1. Return address to use for all Applications -> Send as "praja.in", use Society's registered address.
  2. Cost - we will share, assuming maximum 20-30 RTIs a month, we are talking 200-300 Rs worth postal orders, not a problem.
  3. Technical / legal help with important but complicated Requests -> Will sign up with some RTI specialists (CN Kumar types?) for help. But let us do this later, only after we begin and prove to ourselves and others that we can do this in this community driven way over Internet.
  4. Storing and indeing all replies -> Will bring back "Gyaan", will use simple tags to describe and store all RTIs on Gyaan.

Look forward to more people expressing their support for this first truly open, community driven and Internet based RTI Club.

silkboard's picture

Just to bring this back up

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94 users have liked.

So, shall we begin then? Any more raise of hands for support here?

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